James Arness, who played Marshal Matt Dillon on Gunsmoke, eventually became CBS’s most important actor overall. He did an outstanding job in the lead role of U.S. Marshal Matt Dillon on the popular Western series that aired for a then-record 20 seasons on television. Since this was so important to Arness, he decided to leave a note for his longstanding Gunsmoke followers to read after his passing, which no doubt deepened their already profound admiration for him.
How Did James Arness Die?
Reuters reports that Arness passed away in Los Angeles, California, on June 3, 2011, at the age of 88, for unspecified reasons. According to Ginny Fazer, who handles his business affairs, he is in good health but has “simply been fading.” Nothing wrong with him medically; he just grew tired, I suppose.
Arness was born to businessman Rolf Cirkler Aurness and writer Ruth Duesler on May 26, 1923, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. When he was drafted into the U.S. Army during World War II, he wanted to become a naval fighter pilot but couldn’t because of his poor eyesight and excessive height. For his service, Arness was awarded the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, and several other medals. However, he had a lifelong disability from an injury to his right leg sustained in the Battle of Anzio.
He pursued acting as a profession, but most leading males refused to work with him due to his towering stature. However, legendary Western actor John Wayne thought he had star potential. As a result, he played a role in getting Arness to accept the role of Matt on Gunsmoke, the show that would prove to be the pinnacle of his career.
Who Is James Arness?
James Arness played law-abiding Marshal Matt Dillon on “Gunsmoke” (CBS, 1955-1975), the longest-running drama in television history, and became one of the most well-known actors of the 1950s through the 1970s. World War II soldier turned actor James Arness had trouble finding meaty roles due to his height; his greatest was as the title monster in “The Thing from Another World” before the show premiered (1951).
In the early 1960s, John Wayne took an interest in Arness and was instrumental in getting him cast in “Gunsmoke,” the show that would ultimately define his career for the next two decades. He went on to star in a few more Western-themed programs after Dodge City was canceled, but he eventually made his way back to the role of Dillon in a series of television movies released in the early ’90s. Arness could rest easy knowing that he will forever be associated with the Wild West thanks to the show’s lasting rerun success.
James Arness Net Worth
The $8 million net worth of American actor James Arness. James Arness was born in May 1923 in Minneapolis, and he passed away in June 2011. From 1955 through 1975, he was widely recognized as Matt Dillon in the Western drama Gunsmoke.
In addition to the 1987 film Gunsmoke: Return to Dodge, he also appeared in four further television movies set in the 1990s in which he repeated the character. From 1976 to 1979, Arness played on television in the role of Zeb Macahan in the series How the West Was Won. He played Detective Jim McClain on the TV show McClain’s Law for two seasons, 1981 and 1982. The Farmer’s Daughter, Iron Man, Hondo, The Sea Chase, The First Traveling Saleslady, and many others all featured Arness in lead roles.
In 1960, he had a star placed in honor of him at 1751 Vine Street on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Furthermore, Gunsmoke earned him three nominations for the Primetime Emmys. As of June 3, 2011, James Arness’s life had ended at the age of 88. Peter Graves, who played Solomon Lane in Mission: Impossible, was James’ older brother.
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Gunsmoke Star James Arness Was Married 2 Times
In 1948, a few years before the premiere of Gunsmoke on television, Arness married his first wife, Virginia Chapman. Together with her adopted son, Craig, they created a family. Having been married for 15 years, they finally parted ways in 1963. When Arness’s entertainment career took off, he struggled to maintain a healthy balance between work and family life. Sadly, Chapman passed away in 1977 after a heroin overdose.
Thordis Brandt, who was also an actress, was the actor’s longtime lover. They had been together for six years. Yet, they went their separate ways in the end. In 1978, Arness wed Janet Surtees for the second time.
James Arness Wife Claims That On Their Very First Date, They Stumbled Into A Gunsmoke Advertisement
Janet described meeting Arness after he had already begun filming Gunsmoke in an interview with A Word on Westerns. She was nervous about having dinner with the actor, but they ended up getting along great. The next day he called her and asked if she wanted to go to Mammoth Lakes, and she said yes.
Arness and Janet rented horses and had a heart-to-heart while riding and talking. Since she was already familiar with his profession, she decided to talk about her own. However, their first date took an odd turn when they saw an advertisement for Gunsmoke that featured Matt and Miss Kitty.
To start, we went to a food store,” Janet explained. Jim used to enjoy going to this grocery store and spending money. He had an insatiable appetite. Many delicious foods and drinks were provided, including cheese, crackers, bread, wine, and much more. At that time, a life-size billboard depicting Jim smoking stood in the marketplace. Oh my God, I agree with him! (Humorous pause)
Despite this, Janet and Arness had a great day as they strolled by a beautiful waterfall. Arness escorted her somewhere alone for lunch, clearly knowing exactly where he was heading. His unexpected act of generosity left a lasting impression on her.
Janet remarked, “After we were through, what had truly struck me about Jim was he stood up and he picked up all the trash that had been left on the ground by people who had camped there before and he put it in his saddlebag.” “He tidied up the entire area, and I thought, ‘Now, that’s a cool man.'”