October 2014

Matt Dillon - The Fast Draw

The Western channel is showing clips of different western actors shooting the fast draw. They showed James Arness and James Garner doing the fast draw and which one is the fastest. In slow motion it shows Arness is the fastest. If you ever wondered how my husband learned his fast draw he always mentioned Arvo Ojala. He is also the man who duels with Matt Dillon at the opening of the Gunsmoke show on Front Street. Ojala, a stunt man and player, turned his skill with the 6 gun into a lucrative business. He was gun coach for many western actors including Hugh O’Brian, James Garner and Dale Robertson. Among his other students were Kevin Kostner, Paul Newman and Robert Redford. He also worked on movies such as Silverado, The Three Amigos and Back to the Future 3.

Jim always had the highest respect for Ojala and the training he received from him. Ojala ranked Arness and Garner as the best he taught to fast draw.

I have met Ojala’s daughter, Inga, and I had the privilege of meeting Ojala on the set of McClain’s Law a detective series Jim did in the 80’s. He and his daughter are such good people. It is fun to know the history of how things evolved on Gunsmoke.

Many times fans would write or send a short video of them trying to outdraw Jim during the opening scene. All of them said they weren’t fast enough. Jim always got a kick out this.

Plans are progressing for the 60th Anniversary celebration and I will update you as details emerge. We are going to have a great time!

Janet Arness


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