James Arness was a towering presence on American television for 20 years. As Marshal Matt Dillon, Arness became an icon to viewers as the rugged but fair lawman who brings justice to the frontier.
The actor died Friday at age 88, the result of natural causes.
Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Arness would be wounded in WWII (he would receive a Bronze Star and the Purple Heart), then went into acting in the late 1940s. He did a variety of small roles in movies (including the monster in the classic ‘The Thing’) and then television, before he scored the role of a lifetime in Marshal Matt Dillon. The show, Gunsmoke, would run for 20 years – surpassed only by The Simpsons.
Arness’ brother, actor Peter Graves (of Mission Impossible and Airplane fame) died last year.
Alex has written for Vanity Fair, Barrons, Bloomberg and Condé Nast Traveler.