Yesterday actor James Arness passed away. Most will remember him for playing Marshal Matt Dillon on Gunsmoke for 20 years. His younger brother was actor Peter Graves, who passed away on March 14, 2010.
Mr. Arness was a decorated World War 2 Veteran. His award included the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with three bronze battle stars, the World War II Victory Medal and the Combat Infantryman Badge. He served as a rifleman with the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division, and was severely wounded during Operation Shingle, at Anzio, Italy.
John Wayne recommended Arness for the part of Matt Dillon in the longtime favorite television show Gunsmoke. Wayne introduced Arness in a prologue to the first episode of Gunsmoke. Gunsmoke would run for two decades, the longest running drama series in U.S. television history (tied with Law & Order). It made Arness world-famous.
He was also the monster in 1951's 'The Thing'.
Known for his good humor and easy laugh, Shooting on the Gunsmoke set was often suspended because the 6 feet 7 inch Arness got a case of the uncontrollable giggles.
James Arness avoided publicity and banned reporters from the Gunsmoke set. He was said to be a shy and sensitive man who enjoyed horseback riding, sailboat racing, and surfing.
On the 50th anniversary of television in 1989 in the United States, People Magazine chose the top 25 television stars of all time. Arness was number 6.
Rest well sir, I wish more of todays 'stars' were like you.
Dan Emplit WBFD