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Entries in Marshal Matt Dillon (1)

Friday
Jun032011

James Arness, 'Gunsmoke' Star, Dead at 88

The cast of 'Gunsmoke' L-R: James Arness, Milburn Stone, Amanda Blake, Ken Curtis and Burt Reynolds. Hulton Archive/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- James Arness, best known for playing Marshal Matt Dillon on the iconic TV Western Gunsmoke for two decades, has died, according to the Los Angeles Times.  He was 88.

A family spokesperson told the paper that the actor died of natural causes at his home in Los Angeles on Friday.  He is survived by his wife Janet, three sons and three grandchildren.  His brother, Mission: Impossible star Peter Graves, died last year.

A decorated World War II veteran, James Arness landed the role that made his career thanks to his friend John Wayne. Wayne was originally offered the part of Marshal Dillon in the CBS series, but he turned it down and suggested to the network that Arness be given it instead.

Arness debuted in Gunsmoke in 1955, and the show ran until 1975, making it one of the longest-running primetime series in TV history.  He was nominated for three Emmys during his 20 years on the show. After Gunsmoke ended, Arness again played Dillon in a few Gunsmoke TV movies in the '80s and '90s.  He also starred in the TV miniseries How the West Was Won and in the 1981 police drama McLain's Law.

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