James Arness Dead at 88

Beloved Hollywood actor James Arness died of natural causes in his Brentwood home in Los Angeles on Friday, his family has confirmed to press outlets. The actor, whose brother Peter Graves died in March, 2010, is remembered for not only his iconic work as Marshal Matt Dillon in Gun Smoke, but for his intimidating stature.

James Arness as Marshal Matt Dillon (From Gun Smoke promotional still)
Arness and Graves both went into acting and both landed memorable roles on long-running television dramas. While Graves is remembered for his hard-boiled performance in Mission Impossible, Arness towered above other Western actors (literally) as he played Marshal Matt Dillon for 20 years on Gun Smoke.

At 6-foot, 7-inches, Arness was so tall that his co-stars often had to stand on a prop to elevate themselves into frame for close-medium shots with the actor. He was so tall that his dreams of being a fighter pilot were dashed when he found out that the maximum allowable height was 6-feet, 2-inches. He went on to fight in the Army during World War II and was wounded during Operation Shingle at Anzio, Italy.

Watch this classic Gun Smoke moment featuring Charles Bronson to see how Arness captured a faithful audience for 20 long seasons.

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I write about movies for Zimbio.com, which means I spend way too much time thinking about the geekiest possible ways to approach the cineplex. I'm also hopelessly addicted to audio books. Follow me: Google