James Arness

James Arness (originally Aurness) (born May 26, 1923 in Minneapolis, Minnesota) is an actor best known for portraying Marshal Matt Dillon on Gunsmoke, a role he played for 20 years, to this day the longest any actor has played the same role on the same show in prime time. He is the brother of Peter Graves.

Though primarily identified with Westerns, he also is remembered for appearing in two science fiction films, The Thing from Another World and Them!

James Arness served in the United States Army during World War II and was severely wounded at the Battle of Anzio. He was a close personal friend of John Wayne's and co-starred in a film with him called Big Jim McClain. In fact, Wayne recommended Arness for the role of Matt Dillon.

Since Gunsmoke ended, Arness has continued to perform primarily in western-themed movies and television series, including How the West Was Won, and five made-for-television Gunsmoke reunion movies between 1987 and 1994. A notable exception was a brief turn as a big city policeman in the short-lived 1981 series, McClain's Law.


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A notable exception was a brief turn as a big city policeman in the short-lived 1981 series, McClain's Law. In particular The Stanley Baxter Show on BBC and The Stanley Baxter Picture Show on ITV ran from 1963 to 1985. Since Gunsmoke ended, Arness has continued to perform primarily in western-themed movies and television series, including How the West Was Won, and five made-for-television Gunsmoke reunion movies between 1987 and 1994. Stanley Baxter, born 1926 May 24 in Scotland, is a comic actor most well known for his UK TV shows. In fact, Wayne recommended Arness for the role of Matt Dillon. He was a close personal friend of John Wayne's and co-starred in a film with him called Big Jim McClain.

James Arness served in the United States Army during World War II and was severely wounded at the Battle of Anzio. Though primarily identified with Westerns, he also is remembered for appearing in two science fiction films, The Thing from Another World and Them!. He is the brother of Peter Graves. James Arness (originally Aurness) (born May 26, 1923 in Minneapolis, Minnesota) is an actor best known for portraying Marshal Matt Dillon on Gunsmoke, a role he played for 20 years, to this day the longest any actor has played the same role on the same show in prime time.

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