James Arness was an American actor, best known for his portrayal of Marshall Matt Dillon on "Gunsmoke" for over two decades. He was also notable for his height, being one of the tallest actors in Hollywood at 6 feet, 7 inches.Continue Reading
James Arness was born on May 26, 1923, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to Rolf, a businessman, and Ruth, a journalist. The family's real name was Aurness, but James changed his last name to Arness when he started acting. Arness's younger brother was actor Peter Graves, who also achieved fame as an actor for his role on "Mission: Impossible" and the classic comedy "Airplane!" In his early career, Arness appeared in films such as "The Thing From Another World" and "Horizons West."
In 1955, Arness was cast as Marshall Matt Dillon on "Gunsmoke," which would go on to become one of the most famous roles in TV history. Arness played the character for 20 years, and still holds the record for the longest consecutive portrayal of a character on TV as of 2015. Arness also reprised the character in a series of "Gunsmoke" TV movies in the early 1990s, such as "Gunsmoke: Return to Dodge," "Gunsmoke: The Last Apache" and "Gunsmoke: One Man's Justice." Arness died at the age of 88 on June 3, 2011, in Los Angeles.Learn more about Art & Literature