James Arness





5/26/1923 , Minneapolis, Minnesota



Birth Name

James Aurness




Most remembered for his role as 'U.S. Marshal Matt Dillon' of Dodge City Kansas, James Arness was born on May 26, 1923 in Minneapolis, MN. Growing up surrounded by lakes and woods, he learned to love the things the great outdoors had to offer. In 1943, James Arness joined the U.S. Army after being rejected from the Naval Air Force for being too tall. He was assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division and soon was sent to Anzio, Italy. On February 1, 1944, Mr. Arness' right leg was shattered by enemy fire from a German machine-gun. Due to the seriousness of the injury,he was sent back to the States for treatment and rehabilitation. On January 29, 1945, he was honorably discharged from the Army.

In 1945,after spending almost a year recovering from his injury, Mr. Arness returned to Minneapolis. He enrolled in a radio announcer's school which led to a brief career with a local radio station. By the end of that year, Mr. Arness had grown restless again and with little convincing from long-time friend, Dick Bremicker,headed for California where he developed a love for surfing and eventually drifted into acting. It was not before long and he was cast in his first role, playing the part of one of Loretta Young's three brothers in the 1947 film The Farmer's Daughter. Movie followed after movie and in 1955 he was cast in the role of U.S. Marshal Matt Dillon in the long running Western series Gunsmoke. He had reluctantly auditioned for this role at the suggestion of his friend John Wayne, (who had already turned down the part).

The role of Matt Dillon added three Emmy nominations to a long list of awards Mr. Arness has received over the years. James Arness has also been made an Honorary U.S. Marshal (1972), Honorary Texas Ranger and been inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame. Several years after Gunsmoke ended, James Arness starred in five made for TV Gunsmoke movies in addition to other non Gunsmoke films.

Mr. Arness' most recent work was his autobiography titled James Arness: An Autobiography, published by McFarland & Co. Inc. Publishers in 2001.