March 2017


First, thank you to all the fans who contacted the TV stations about getting Gunsmoke back on the air! You folks are awesome. Unfortunately I don’t have any control over Gunsmoke programming. I wish I did.

From an article in Biography magazine in April 2001. This is Jim’s account (in his words) about Gunsmoke and his career.

In 1998 an overwhelming majority of TV Guide readers named Gunsmoke their favorite Western. Yet Jim was very modest.

“I was fortunate to get this role and be in a project that had such quality material. It was mostly a question, especially in the early going, of the role carrying me.”

To hear Jim’s account, the writers, producers and fellow cast members did the heavy lifting while he tried not to ruin the magic around him.

For nearly a decade of landing the role that made him famous the oft-reported story that John Wayne vouched for Arness with the higher ups at CBS, helped him to get the part. He adds:

“The honest to goodness truth is you never know in this business. There is a lot of luck and providence mixed into every successful career.”

Jim always felt he was fortunate he accepted the role of Matt Dillon. If it hadn’t have been for John Wayne he wouldn’t have taken this role.

Jim worked on a number of movies with John Wayne and he was presented with three mugs from Wayne which I still have, The Sea Chase, Hondo and Island in the Sky. Jim used those mugs and they are well worn. Jim and John had a special relationship which Jim was always thankful for. And in case you didn’t know, they also share the same birthdate, May 26th.

Janet Arness