From the 1950s to the 1990s, James Arness was one of the most recognizable faces on American television. His career spans the two decades in-between. He was one of Hollywood’s most in-demand Western drama actors at the time due to his charismatic and authoritative demeanor as well as his dominating appearance.
Unfortunately, James gained notoriety when he was chosen to play Marshal Matt Dillion in the television series “Gunsmoke,” a role he played for 20 years. Over the duration of the show, James played Dillion. The following productions in which James has appeared are associated with it because he has been known for its throughout his whole career.
From 1955 through 1975, he appeared as a featured actor on the weekly Western television series “Gunsmoke.” He played the same part in the 1987 television movie “Gunsmoke: Return to Dodge.” The same character was also portrayed by him in the films that were produced after the television series finished. Among these are the 1990 movie “Gunsmoke: the last APACHE,” “GUNSMOKE: to the last man,” “Gunsmoke: to the last ride,” “Gunsmoke: the long journey,” and “Gunsmoke: one man’s justice.”
James gained notoriety as an actor in the 1950s by appearing in several movies in addition to the “Gunsmoke” television series franchise. The movies “Wyoming Mail,” “two Lost Worlds,” “The people Against O’Hara,” “Iron Man,” “The Lone Hand,” and “Island in the Sky” are among many more.
Yet his performance as Zeb Macahan in the TV show “How the West was Won” solidified his fame as a television star in both the United States and Europe. In television, James has appeared alongside notable actors like Eva Marie Saint, Fionnula Flanagan, Richard Kiley, and Bruce Boxelither. A paperback novelization of one of the first few episodes was enlarged to an epic length of 400 pages due to the show’s enormous success.
Despite the fact that his life appeared to be fairly glamorous on the outside, James had a rather turbulent life before to marrying his second wife, who continued his life-long companion until the very end.
James k. Arness was born into an incredibly wealthy family; Both his mother, Ruth Duesler, a writer, and his father, Rolf Crickler Aurness, were successful businessmen. German-born James was raised in Norm away. James tried his hand at stage acting when he was younger, but later in life he showed little interest in doing so as a vocation and instead heeded the call of the seas to seek a career in the maritime business.
He’s the older brother of actor Peter Graves, who has roles in Airplanes and Mission: Impossible! Their mother instilled a passion of the arts in them as children. James took far longer than Peter to recognize that it was intended to be his life’s path while Peter did it immediately away.
In the year 1943, James was enlisted in the Navy. During the Second World War, he and Peter were both in the military, but tragically, he was injured while defending his nation on the front lines. At the Battle of Anzio, he suffered life-threatening injuries to his right leg. He underwent several operations before being eventually discharged from the hospital for health reasons.
Years later, at the pinnacle of his career and as a seasoned vet, James finally pursued his secret passion of acting. As he was playing at a threaten in Los Angeles, a Hollywood agency saw him and connected him with Dore Scary, with whom they had two children. Craig, on the other hand, made the decision to pursue photography and eventually rose through the ranks to become a Natl Geographic official photographer.
\But James and Virginia opted to divorce after a 15-year marriage, and as a result James was given legal custody of their children. Virginia eventually left for San Bernadino, California, and vanished shortly after the divorce was granted. She died in 1977 from a heroin overdose, two years after her daughter had perished from the same disease.
After the separation, James kept working towards his career objectives. Later seasons of the television series “Gunsmoke” included Janet Surtees, who would later become Arness’s second wife. He met Janet through Alden’s wife, who Janet worked with at the same clothes company. At first, Janet had her doubts about meeting James, a television personality, but since her son was a fan, she decided to try it and take the chance.
When suddenly I hear a knock on the door, I’m sitting there impatiently waiting. She recalls thinking of James when they first met, “Oh my Gosh, he is a gigantic man, and he was so kind.” And then his enormous gentleman knocks through the door.
We were introduced to one another, and after sitting down, any trepidation I had was completely dispelled by Jim’s kindness and genuineness. He was a skier, and I was interested in skiing, so we just started speaking.
After their first meeting, Janet didn’t speak to James for another three months because they agreed to have dinner together again. This marked the beginning of their lifetime journey as a pair.
James and Janet exchanged vows and married husband and wife in 1978 at a ceremony in Brentwood, Los Angeles. James and Janet maintained their joyful relationship even after James ceased playing Marshal Matt Dillion on “Gunsmoke” and in his films.
According to James, who was 88 years old when he passed away on March 16, 2014, natural causes are what caused him to pass away. Janet stood by his side till he left, leaving behind his wife Janet, Virginia-based son Rolf, and Janet’s house-dwelling stepson James.