James Arness, the giant of a man in real life at six foot seven inches, and a giant as the iconic Marshal Matt Dillion on CBSs Gunsmoke has passed away.
The star who also starred in the 1950s sci-fi classics Them! and The Thing From Another World, died of natural causes at his Brentwood home on Friday afternoon.
His death comes 14 months after his brother, Mission: Impossible actor Peter Graves, died of a heart attack at age 83.
Arness’ official website posted a letter from the actor on Friday that he wrote with the intention that it be posted posthumously.
“I had a wonderful life and was blessed with some many loving people and great friends,” he said. “I wanted to take this time to thank all of you for the many years of being a fan of Gunsmoke, The Thing, How the West Was Won and all the other fun projects I was lucky enough to have been allowed to be a part of. I had the privilege of working with so many great actors over the years.”
Marshal Dillon, kept the peace in rough and tumble Dodge City, Kan., onGunsmoke, which aired on CBS from September 1955 to March 1975 for a total of 635 episodes. It was tied by NBC’s Law & Order.
Arness’ 20-year primetime stint on TV is another record: two decades years as the same character. Kelsey Grammer recently matched this feat as Frasier Crane on two shows, Cheers and then Frasier.
Source: Hollywood Reporter