Burt Reynolds reminisces of what it was like to work on Gunsmoke (article from 1995)
For Reynolds Gunsmoke, Dodge City, was training ground (actually that’s where I learned what a set should be like) he said referring to the occasion class distinctions on film set (you know, the stars don’t go to lunch with the day players and day players don’t eat with extras.) James Arness just tore that all to hell and everybody was treated equality. And it does start with the star of the show. Gunsmoke was a very classy show and nobody dared act like an ass or a jerk because Jim wasn’t.
Being a member of Gunsmoke assemble meant you were part of a protective family that loved to have fun, Reynolds says. (Most people never realized what a fabulous sense of humor Jim Arness has.) If Jim got the giggles he was gone. Not just for an hour-for the day. It was a wrap. And I could get him once in a while he says.
Burt was right Jim had a wonderful sense of humor and when he laughed we all laughed. He just had a laugh that was contagious. I remember how honored Burt Reynolds felt when Jim asked him to write the forward for his autobiography. Burt and Jim always stayed close just like brothers.