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James Arness, Marshal on ‘Gunsmoke,’ Dies at 88
New York Times ^ | 6/3/11 | Robert McFadden

Posted on 06/03/2011 4:27:58 PM PDT by Evil Slayer

James Arness, who burnished the legend of America’s epic West as Marshal Matt Dillon, the laconic peacemaker of Dodge City on “Gunsmoke,” one of the longest-running dramatic series in television history, died on Friday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 88.

A family spokeswoman, Ginny Fazer, confirmed the death. Mr. Arness was terribly shy and had almost no training as an actor. A wartime leg wound made it painful for him to mount a horse. But he became the best-known tin star of his era, portraying the towering, weathered marshal for 20 years, from 1955 to 1975. He also made some 50 films and television movies, mostly westerns, in a career that stretched across five decades.

To a generation of television viewers, Mr. Arness and “Gunsmoke” embodied a new, more adult vision of the mythic Old West: a quiet, vulnerable lawman facing not stereotyped villains and clichéd situations but a chaotic frontier freighted with moral judgments and occasional failure. He might be too late to stop a killing. He could save a girl from kidnappers, but not from her father’s brutality.

(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: dodgecity; gunsmoke; jamesarness; marshaldillon; mattdillon; mattdillondodgecity

1 posted on 06/03/2011 4:28:01 PM PDT by Evil Slayer
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To: Evil Slayer

RIP Mr Arness, the big man with a small ego.


2 posted on 06/03/2011 4:29:07 PM PDT by Doogle ((USAF.68-73..8th TFW Ubon Thailand..never store a threat you should have eliminated))
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To: Evil Slayer

He’s not gone, he just rode on ahead to save me a seat at the saloon.


3 posted on 06/03/2011 4:31:00 PM PDT by arderkrag (Georgia is God's Country.----------In the same way Rush is balance, I am consensus.)
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To: Evil Slayer
Yeah. Gunsmoke was one of the best. Don't forget Kitty, at the Long Branch Saloon.
4 posted on 06/03/2011 4:36:19 PM PDT by hinckley buzzard
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To: Evil Slayer

He really was a big guy. I remember him as the monster in an old Sci Fi movie. He looked like, well a monster.

He did seem a decent man.


5 posted on 06/03/2011 4:37:04 PM PDT by yarddog
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To: hinckley buzzard
Peter Graves was his brother.

Their folks came to America from Norway after their town burned down in winter.

It was one of those places where there's a lot of overlap between the Norse and the Sa'ami ~ I always found James Arness to be one of the most entertaining actors on TV way back when.

6 posted on 06/03/2011 4:39:37 PM PDT by muawiyah
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To: Evil Slayer

“Mr. Dillon, Mr. Dillon” Thank you.


7 posted on 06/03/2011 4:51:37 PM PDT by ex-snook ("Above all things, truth beareth away the victory")
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To: Doogle

He will be missed. One of my favorites and a great American.


8 posted on 06/03/2011 4:52:49 PM PDT by CheezyD
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To: Doogle

9 posted on 06/03/2011 4:54:02 PM PDT by Evil Slayer (Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war)
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To: Evil Slayer

RIP... That was a good show and I had no idea he was brother to Peter Graves until today.


10 posted on 06/03/2011 4:54:34 PM PDT by The Mayor (Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is Liberty!)
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To: hinckley buzzard

11 posted on 06/03/2011 4:55:34 PM PDT by Evil Slayer (Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war)
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To: Evil Slayer
When I think of Gunsmoke, all I think of is the Bill Cosby routine about "Froofie the Dog": "But...but...Ma....Dad is watching Gunsmoke...and the the men on Gunsmoke are drowning little baby kittens."

"So now I'm watching Fr-Fr-Fr-Froofie the Dog."

12 posted on 06/03/2011 4:57:14 PM PDT by dfwgator
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To: muawiyah
He was a huge man who spoke his lines with great authority. Some of his interviews are on Youtube. I was surprised how articulate he was. None of Our Fearless Leaders hems and haws. Thwey say that on set he was a fun guy who liked to break people up. Yet, especially during the early episodes, he put a hard edge on his performances of Matt Dillion, just like the Matt Dillion on the radio. As he said, the writers had already fined tuned the characters when he took up the part. In fact, he could hasve done the radio roles, as he had a fine radio voice. Had Willam Conrad's "growl," but just a half octave higher. Very professional actor, even if his size kept him from doing other roles. It may be just my recollection is faulty, but I noticed him in the role of Loretta Young's brother in "Farmer's Daughter," and I thought how BIG he was.During the few scenes there were in together, he had to bend over just to get into the frame. And John Wayne seems to have loved the guy, and did the other members of the "Gunsmoke" cast.

Rest in peace, Mr.Arness.

13 posted on 06/03/2011 4:59:30 PM PDT by RobbyS (Pray with the suffering souls.)
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To: yarddog

That was the original “The Thing” right?


14 posted on 06/03/2011 5:02:20 PM PDT by paddles ("The more corrupt the state, the more it legislates." Tacitus)
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To: hinckley buzzard
Yeah. Gunsmoke was one of the best. Don't forget Kitty, at the Long Branch Saloon.

I loved that show. When I watched it as a kid, I never realized the girls at the Long Branch` were prostitutes.
15 posted on 06/03/2011 5:04:15 PM PDT by Krankor (Her voice was soft and cool, her eyes were clear and bright . But she's not there)
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To: yarddog

16 posted on 06/03/2011 5:04:39 PM PDT by kbennkc (For those who have fought for it, freedom has a flavor the protected will never know.)
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To: Evil Slayer
I grew up in the "Cow Boy era of the 50's and 60's! In college I was a History and Political Science Major and discovred that the "Frontier Thesis" of American History was mirrored in these characters presented on TV.

I saw and shook hands with Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, at the Rodeo shows that were presented at the Madison Square Garden.

Matt Dillion, Festus, Lone Ranger were fictional but they still portrayed the Good Over Evil and communitry improvements whether it was building a church, city hall or school!

RIP to those folks at the Long Branch Saloon!

17 posted on 06/03/2011 5:05:04 PM PDT by Young Werther ("Quae cum ita sunt" Since these things are so!)
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To: Evil Slayer

Gunsmoke was my favorite show when I was a kid.

End of an era.

RIP


18 posted on 06/03/2011 5:05:08 PM PDT by spodefly (This is my tag line. There are many like it, but this one is mine.)
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To: paddles

Yes it was “The Thing”. I could not recall the name of it. Just had a mental block.


19 posted on 06/03/2011 5:10:55 PM PDT by yarddog
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To: Evil Slayer

God bless you, James Arness; rest in peace.

“Gunsmoke” was one of the best - back in the days when “drama” came from the challenge of character and moral dilemma, not from pyrotechnics and sex.

God bless them all.


20 posted on 06/03/2011 5:21:33 PM PDT by Wife of D28Man
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To: Evil Slayer

When Rush announced this on his show today I almost cried. We admired and respected Mr. Arness. He’s part of our greatest generation and we’ll miss him. Hub and I ordered the complete set of Gunsmoke a couple of years ago and watched every one of them......it took several nights but we did it. RIP “Mr. Dillon”.......:(


21 posted on 06/03/2011 5:32:25 PM PDT by Dawgreg (Happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have.)
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To: Krankor

Same thing here, I watched the show as a kid but didn’t realize the ladies were hookers in the Long Branch. You never saw them go upstairs with the customers though, they were just shown drinking with them.

Gunsmoke and Rawhide are still 2 of my favorite shows to watch today on DVD. Those old shows are so much better than the garbage they make now, no doubt about it.


22 posted on 06/03/2011 5:38:44 PM PDT by WonkyTonky
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To: kbennkc

What a nice picture. Thank you for posting.
Rest in Peace, Mr. Arness; thank you for the good, clean entertainment you provided for so many years.


23 posted on 06/03/2011 5:39:33 PM PDT by 4integrity
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To: Krankor

The weren’t. They only danced and drank with the cowboys. The cowboys were charged a dime a dance and had to behave themselves, else Miss Kitty would dispatch them if the sheriff wasn’t around to take care of things in the saloon. The girls charged a nickel a drink to drink and talk with the cowboys (plus the cost of her drink, of course). That’s the straight story on that. The Long Branch was a reputable establishment and that’s how it was.


24 posted on 06/03/2011 5:48:54 PM PDT by Twinkie (We still don't know anything about Obama, and won't.)
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To: WonkyTonky; Twinkie

Actually, in the 1/2 hour episodes, every now and then you would see the girls taking men upstairs. As the show progressed over the years, the producers completely ignored the prostitution angle, although it was often pointed out that saloon girls were not fit for marrying. They also glossed over the fact two of the top citizens of Dodge, Dillon and Doc Adams, frequented a saloon/brothel. You never saw the town’s banker or any other Dodge businessmen there. The producers also ignored the fact Miss Kitty regularly cheated her customers. There was no way any of her girls were ever given any real liquor when a guy bought them a drink- otherwise, they’d be passed out on the floor after a couple of hours. The truly odd thing- there was no mayor of Dodge or any politicians for that matter.


25 posted on 06/03/2011 6:22:44 PM PDT by Krankor (Her voice was soft and cool, her eyes were clear and bright . But she's not there)
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To: Evil Slayer

Another one of the great ones lost.

What a comparison to the drug addled girly-men so popular today.

Not many people know that Arness was an avid sailor - keel boats and catamarans.
Big cats, not Hobie cats.
His first cat was a 60 footer custom buit by Rudy Choy.
He was a avid west coast racer and captained hs boats in the California to Hawaii race.

Speaking of Gunsmoke - how many remember the character, blacksmith Quint Asper?
And who played the part?


26 posted on 06/03/2011 6:27:01 PM PDT by Iron Munro (The purpose of fighting is to win. There is no possible victory in defense. -- John Steinbeck)
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To: Krankor

I really enjoyed the show too but it was not very realistic in many ways. The show would have been set in the 1870’s or 80’s yet that city had no town marshal nor did Ford County have a sheriff.

The real Dodge City had Wyatt Earp as deputy marshal and Bat Masterson was County sheriff.

I used to work in Dodge City and once Amanda Blake came to visit. I recall one thing she said was they did teach them a bit of history of Dodge but of course could not keep it really accurate.


27 posted on 06/03/2011 6:31:08 PM PDT by yarddog
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To: yarddog

Good point. Do you know what was the biggest difference between Gunsmoke and Bonnanza?


28 posted on 06/03/2011 6:41:11 PM PDT by Krankor (Her voice was soft and cool, her eyes were clear and bright . But she's not there)
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To: Doogle

I met him once at Big Lake in Wasilla, AK. Very nice man.


29 posted on 06/03/2011 6:46:32 PM PDT by MayflowerMadam
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To: Iron Munro

That B.R., the Bandit! Halfbreed Commanche, friend to Festus Haggen.

The best part about gunsmoke, besides the writing and acting, was all the character actors who showed up a million times. I always watch the ones with Warren Oates and Lee Van Cleef.

Freegards


30 posted on 06/03/2011 6:47:20 PM PDT by Ransomed
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To: Evil Slayer
Years ago I had the opportunity to see an outtake from Gunsmoke. It was the beginning scene where Marshal Dillon has fast draw with a bad guy and this time Dillon loses and gets shot, I always wondered if they made it in case they had to cast him out of the series. I hope someone has it and posts it on Utube its kinda neat.
RIP always loved the show!
31 posted on 06/03/2011 6:48:31 PM PDT by rolling_stone
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To: rolling_stone

It would be interesting to know both how many men Matthew shot and killed, as well as how many times he was shot. Over the course of 20 years, I know that shoulder would be pretty sore...I bet he was shot at least 50+times. Probably more.

Freegards


32 posted on 06/03/2011 6:57:10 PM PDT by Ransomed
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To: Krankor

I am not sure what the major difference between Bonanza and Gunsmoke but I did notice at first the Cartwrights used cap and ball revolvers but later used 1873 Colts and model 92 Winchesters.

I will say the scenery in Bonanza was probably more accurate as Ford County, Kansas is pretty flat. Also Gunsmoke rarely mentioned the Arkansas river which flowed through Dodge.


33 posted on 06/03/2011 7:06:15 PM PDT by yarddog
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To: Krankor

I am not sure what the major difference between Bonanza and Gunsmoke but I did notice at first the Cartwrights used cap and ball revolvers but later used 1873 Colts and model 92 Winchesters.

I will say the scenery in Bonanza was probably more accurate as Ford County, Kansas is pretty flat. Also Gunsmoke rarely mentioned the Arkansas river which flowed through Dodge.


34 posted on 06/03/2011 7:06:28 PM PDT by yarddog
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To: yarddog

Good eye for detail. But the one thing I always seem to notice. No one on Bonnanza ever got shot in the back. On Gunsmoke, it seemed to happen every other day.


35 posted on 06/03/2011 7:09:57 PM PDT by Krankor (Her voice was soft and cool, her eyes were clear and bright . But she's not there)
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bttt


36 posted on 06/03/2011 7:13:56 PM PDT by DollyCali (Don't tell God how big your storm is... tell your storm how BIG your God is!)
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To: hinckley buzzard
"Don't forget Kitty, at the Long Branch Saloon."

That is MISS Kitty.

37 posted on 06/03/2011 7:20:06 PM PDT by matthew fuller (God Bless Johnny Cash, John Wayne, and Marshal Matt Dillon.)
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To: yarddog
He really was a big guy. I remember him as the monster in an old Sci Fi movie. He looked like, well a monster.

The Thing. One of my favorite sci fi's.

38 posted on 06/03/2011 7:32:37 PM PDT by Wiggins
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To: Evil Slayer

39 posted on 06/03/2011 8:15:46 PM PDT by Donald Rumsfeld Fan ("Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts." Richard Feynman father of Quantum Physics)
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