James Arness And “GunSmoke” Trivia

th gunsmoke

Okay, so I was in conversation with some age related peeps who are relevant to this post and we began reminiscing about how they just don’t make movies and television shows like they used to back in the day (op-ed) when our parents were young and we were growing up.

I know those were the days my friend. lol. Anyhew, the subject of Westerns came up, along with our sharing our favorite series. Some of our favorite ride ’em up cowboys came to mind that hadn’t been thought of in years, along with a few juicy tidbits about these larger than life characters that many folks just wasn’t made aware of. I mean who knew that Ms. Kitty smoked like a chimney in real life?!

Well, considering how long ago these Westerns came into play, I thought why not give a shout out to some of the best viewing in television history and bring awareness to the young folks? But, don’t be fooled, some of these ‘cowboy’ insights this g-mogul never knew until I’d done my research. Since there were so many Westerns made during the 50s and 60s during the wild west era, I’ve decided to do a series of sorts on some of my favorites, starting with James Arness and “GUNSMOKE.”

James Arness was Marshal Dillon for 20 years in the popular Western series, Gunsmoke where he played the amicable but serious sheriff who kept the town of Dodge in Kansas safe, along with his supposed love interest, Ms. Kitty, the proprietor of the Long Branch Saloon. Hmm, it always seemed strange that the two characters never kissed. Now I have a credible theory on that one- to be shared in a later post. 🙂

Well, James Arness was recommended for the role of his lifetime and, a role he couldn’t shake, by none other than John Wayne who reportedly turned down the role and became instrumental in getting Arness the job. The 6’6″ actor and brother of Peter Graves, also an actor, is said to have threatened many times to quit Gunsmoke, but each time was given a bigger salary and share in the residuals. He was married twice and the father of three, along with an adopted son from one of his marriages. The actor’s daughter committed suicide in 1975 and a son passed in 2004.

James Arness said about writing his autobiography in 2001,”If I was going to write a book…I’d better do it cause I’m not getting any younger. He also wrote in a letter read after his death.

“I had a wonderful life and was blessed with many loving people and great friends.”

More Trivia:
James Arness served in World War 11 and was severely wounded in the right leg and foot, thus the reason for slight limp.

His last ride as Matt Dillon was in the 1992 release of Gunsmoke: One Man’s Justice.
He had poor eyesight and died of natural causes.
In 1996 TV Guide ranked James Arness # 20 in its 50 Greatest Tv stars of all times. The actor won numerous awards and acted in several series during his lifetime.

How many of y’all remember Gunsmoke? Who was your favorite character? Beside Matt Dillon, I sorta liked ole Festus. Just sayin’

Anyhew, my next post will be about Ken Curtis aka Festus and boy have I got something to tell y’all 🙂



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