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'Gunsmoke' Star -- Dead at 88

6/3/2011 3:00 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF

James Arness -- famous for his role as Marshall Matt Dillon on "Gunsmoke" -- died Friday at his LA area home of natural causes ... a family spokesperson confirms.

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Arness played the legendary lawman during the show's impressive 20 year run -- making him a household name and gaining him three Emmy nominations.

Standing at 6 feet, 7 inches ... Arness was said to be a very imposing character on the legendary western ... but offscreen he was described as very shy.

In addition to his long acting career -- Arness was a World War II Army Combat vet and an avid surfer.

He was 88.

13 COMMENTS

No Avatar

1.

Woot    

Rest in peace, James. My mom loved you. :o)

1203 days ago
2.

CloBird    

RIP
I remember watching Gunsmoke as child.

1203 days ago
3.

AQ    

RIP but um, I thought he died years ago.

1203 days ago
4.

diogenes    

One of the longest running shows on TV Arness was a large man almost 6'6 and Older brother of actor Peter Graves. Still in reruns

1202 days ago
5.

karl    

Zeb Macahan. The best

1202 days ago
6.

WillOTheWisp    

Ooooh no!!! I loved him!!!

I remember my mom waiting for Gunsmoke to come on, and my siblings and I would grab our blankets and climb into a couple of big cardboard boxes (which was turned on their sides, which had once held our new kitchen cabinets when they had first arrived a few weeks before), and we’d just spend the evening watching Gunsmoke, and all the other programs that followed during that time.
Such awesome memories!!

R.I.P. James Arness!!!

1202 days ago
7.

Kitty    

I remember watching Gunsmoke with my grandfather and the rest of my family. He loved westerns but Gunsmoke was his favorite, as it is mine. When we sat down to watch it every week, I knew everything was right with the world. All the actors were excellent on that show and the characters were well written and very believable. The stories still hold up well today, as I still watch it occasionally.

James Arness was a true American hero, just as Marshal Matt Dillon was. He's always been my hero, not like any of the actors now days. Look at the kinds of actors we have today-and the characters that they play-most are so morally bankrupt and conflicted about what's right and wrong it's not even funny. I've truly missed Gunsmoke and Matt, Kitty, Doc and Festus in the years since it went off the air. What a pity that all the great westerns have disappeared from TV and film. They just don't make em like they used to.

Rest in peace, Mr Arness. I'll never forget you and Marshal Dillon.

1202 days ago
8.

WillOTheWisp    


Kitty 12 minutes ago
"... I've truly missed Gunsmoke and Matt, Kitty, Doc and Festus in the years since it went off the air. What a pity that all the great westerns have disappeared from TV and film. They just don't make em like they used to."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I know!!!
Awesome shows and awesome times!!
My sister-in-law just informed me that Kitty was actually a Madam. Ha-ha-ha!!
Who would have thunketh??? LOL!!

1202 days ago
9.

Onward    

I still have my Gunsmoke lunch box. Gunsmoke was one of my favorites and Jim Arness was a class act.

RIP.

1202 days ago
10.

Observer    

Not only was James Arness the lead on the longest running dramatic TV show in history until 2008, he was a vet wounded in the war against the Nazi's which ended his military service and brought him to radio, then film then to his iconic role as Marshall Matt Dillon in 'Gunsmoke'

Encouraged first by his younger brother, Peter Graves (Mission Impossible) to get into the entertainment field, it was the late great John Wayne who became a mentor to James, which appeared in several of Wayne's films, whom Strongly suggest he take the role of Matt Dillon. A decision that would solidify his career forever.

Not only was he a humble and likable celebrity (which is Much missed these days), he was a kind and gentle giant of a man. Not only supported by his 6'6" frame, yet in his personable and friendly manner toward all.

If you've never seen Gunsmoke, give it a spin. It's well worth the watch and Arness brought much of that series likability to it.

R.I.P. James Arness, you left a legacy and example to be proud of.

1202 days ago
11.

Learn-The-Difference    

"Arness was a World War II Army Combat vet..." Truth be told, Arness was a PATRIOT - one who loves his or her country and supports its authority and interests! PATRIOT, PATRIOT, PATRIOT, PATRIOT, PATRIOT, PATRIOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

1202 days ago
12.

Sloane    

a legend both on and off the screen

they don't make them like him any more

what a sad loss for his family and close friends

1201 days ago
13.

LittleJoe    

Childhood memories...gunsmoke.

Now Matt Dillon can meet Jim Phelps. Brothers together.

1201 days ago

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