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James Arness
Born James Aurness
May 26, 1923 (1923-05-26) (age 86)
Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.
Occupation Actor
Years active 1947–1994
Spouse(s) Virginia Chapman
(1948-1960)
Janet Surtrees
(1978-present)[1]
Official website

James Arness (born May 26, 1923)[2] is a retired American actor, best known for portraying Marshal Matt Dillon on Gunsmoke for 20 years. Arness has the distinction of having played the role of Marshal Matt Dillon in five separate decades: 1955 to 1975 in the weekly series, then in 1987 Return to Dodge and four more made-for-TV Gunsmoke movies in the 1990s.

Contents

Early life

Arness was born as James Aurness in Minneapolis, Minnesota. His parents were Rolf Cirkler Aurness (July 1894 - July 1982), a businessman and Ruth (Duesler) Ayrness (died September 1986), a (journalist). His father's ancestry was Norwegian, his mother's German.[3] The family name had been "Aursnes," but when Rolf's father Peter Aursnes immigrated from Norway in 1887, he changed it to "Aurness."[2]

Arness attended John Burrows Grade School, Washburn High School and West High School Minneapolis. Despite "being a poor student and skipping many classes", he graduated from high school in June 1942. He then enlisted in the United States Army to serve in World War II.[2]

Arness had a brother, actor Peter Graves (1926-2010). (Peter Aurness used the stage name "Graves," a maternal family name.)[2]

In his pre-war years, Arness worked as courier for a jewelry wholesaler, loading and unloading railway boxcars at the Minneapolis freightyards, and logging in Pierce, Idaho.[2]

Military service in World War II

Arness wanted to be a naval fighter pilot, but he felt his poor eyesight would bar him. His 6 feet 7 inches (2.01 m) height ended his hopes, since he discovered that 6 feet 2 inches (1.88 m) was the limit for aviators. Instead, he was called for the Army and reported to Fort Snelling in March 1943.[2]

Arness served as a rifleman with the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division, and was severely wounded during Operation Shingle, at Anzio, Italy.[4]

According to James Arness – An Autobiography, he landed on Anzio Beachhead on January 21, 1944 as a rifleman with 2nd Platoon, E Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Regiment of the 3rd Infantry Division. Due to his height, he was the first ordered off his landing craft to determine the depth of the water; it came up to his waist.[2]

On January 29, 1945, having undergone surgery several times, Arness was honorably discharged. His wounds would bother him the rest of his life, and in recent years Arness has suffered from acute leg pain[1], which even prevents him from mounting a horse. He has undergone a series of operations to remove bullet fragments that had fused into the bone.[citation needed]

His decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart;[1] the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with three bronze battle stars, the World War II Victory Medal and most importantly the Combat Infantryman Badge.

Acting career

After his discharge, James Aurness entered Beloit College, in Wisconsin. He began his performing career as a radio announcer in Minnesota in 1945.[5]

Aurness soon began acting and appeared in films. He began with RKO, who immediately changed his name to 'Arness'. His film debut was as Loretta Young's brother, 'Peter Holstrom' in the 1947 "The Farmer's Daughter".[1]

Though identified with Westerns, Arness also appeared in two science fiction films, The Thing from Another World (in which he portrayed the title character) and Them!. He was a close friend of John Wayne and co-starred with him in Big Jim McLain, Hondo, Island in the Sky, and The Sea Chase.

After Gunsmoke ended, Arness performed in western-themed movies and television series, including How the West Was Won, and in five made-for-television Gunsmoke movies between 1987 and 1994. An exception was as a big city police officer in a short-lived 1981 series, McClain's Law.

Arness did the narration for Harry Carey Jr.'s Comanche Stallion (directed by Clyde Lucas).[6]

Filmography

Gunsmoke

Gunsmoke was the longest running prime-time dramatic, television series ever produced, having 635 episodes and running from 1955 until 1975. Other prime-time shows have run longer, however they are all TV news, sports, anthology or variety programs.

Films

1947 The Farmer's Daughter
1947 Man From Texas
1947 Roses Are Red (film)
1949 Battleground
1950 Wagonmaster
1950 Sierra (film)
1950 Two Lost Worlds
1950 Double Crossbones
1950 Stars In My Crown
1950 Wyoming Mail
1951 Calvary Scout
1951 Belle le Grand
1951 Iron Man
1951 The Thing (1951), Science Fiction
1951 The People Against O'Hara
1952 Carbine Williams
1952 Hellgate(movie)


1952 The Girl In White
1952 Big Jim McLain
1952 Horizons West
1953 The Lone Hand
1953 Ride The Man Down
1953 Island In The Sky
1953 Veils of Bagdad
1954 Them, Science Fiction
1954 Hondo
1954 Her Twelve Men
1955 Flames of the Islands
1955 Many Rivers to Cross
1955 The Sea Chase
1956 Arizona Mission
1956 Gun The Man Down
1956 The First Traveling Saleslady
1959 Alias Jesse James—(as Marshal Matt Dillon)[7]

Television

1950 The Lone Ranger (1 episode as Deputy Bud Titus)[8]
1954 Lux Video Theatre "The Chase"
1956 Front Row Center
1959 The Red Skelton Chevy Special
1961 The Chevrolet Golden Anniversery Show
1972 A Salute to Television's 25th Anniversary
1976 The Macahans
1977 How The West Was WonMiniseries
1978 - 1979 How The West Was Won—TV series
1981 McClain's Law
1987 The Alamo: 13 Days to Glory— as Jim Bowie[9]
1988 Red River(1988)[10] remake of Red River(1948)

Gunsmoke Television Movies

1987 Gunsmoke: Return to Dodge
1990 Gunsmoke II: The Last Apache
1992 Gunsmoke III: To The Last Man
1993 Gunsmoke IV: The Long Ride
1993 Gunsmoke V: One Man's Justice

Personal life

Arness has been married twice. First to Virginia Chapman from 1948 until their divorce in 1960.[13] He has been married to Janet Surtrees since 1978.[1] He has three sons: Rolf, Craig,[14] and one other. His daughter Jenny Lee Aurness was born 23 May 1950, and committed suicide on 12 May 1975.[15] His son Rolf Aurness was born February 18, 1952 and became World Surfing Champion in 1970. Rolf’s mother Virginia Chapman died in 1976.[13]

Awards

For his contribution to the television industry, Arness has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1751 Vine Street. In 1981, he was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. In 2006, Arness was inducted into the Santa Clarita Walk of Western Stars and gave a related TV Interview.[1]

Arness was nominated for the following Emmy awards:[14]

  • 1957: Best Continuing Performance by an Actor in a Dramatic Series
  • 1958: Best Continuing Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Dramatic or Comedy Series
  • 1959: Best Actor in a Leading Role (Continuing Character) in a Dramatic Series

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f Leon Worden "Newsmaker of the Week: TV Interview Transcript" April 21, 2006, Santa Clara Valley TV Accessed March 15, 2010
  2. ^ a b c d e f g James Arness, James E. Wise Jr. (2001) "James Arness: an Autobiography", ISBN 0-7864-1221-6, McFarland & Company Inc., Accessed March 15, 2010
  3. ^ "Ancestry of James Arness" genealogy.com Accessed 17 March 2010
  4. ^ http://www.nndb.com/people/954/000022888/
  5. ^ "James Arness' Official Website-Biography" Accessed March 15, 2010
  6. ^ Staci Layne Wilson (2007) "Animal Movies Guide" p.292, ISBN 978-0-9675185-3-4, Running Free Press, Accessed March 15, 2010
  7. ^ "Alias Jesse James (1959) - Cast List" Yahoo! Movies Accessed 18 March 2010
  8. ^ "Lone Ranger Fan Club" lonerangerfan.com Accessed 17 March 2010
  9. ^ "The Alamo Thirteen Days to Glory-Overview" New York Times, Accessed 17 March 2010
  10. ^ "James Arness-Filmography" Fandango.com Accessed 17 March 2010
  11. ^ James Arness Filmography jamesarness.com Accessed 16 March 2010
  12. ^ "TV Guide-James Arness:Credits" tvguide.com Accessed 17 March 2010
  13. ^ a b Drew Kampion (December 2000) "Rolf Aurness Biography" Surf Line Accesssed March 15, 2010
  14. ^ a b "TV Guide-James Arness:Biography" TV Guide Accessed 17 March 2010
  15. ^ "Jenny Lee Aurness" findagrave Accesssed March 15, 2010

External links


James Arness
Born James Aurness
May 26, 1923 (1923-05-26) (age 87)
Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.
Occupation Actor
Years active 1947–1994
Spouse Virginia Chapman
(1948-1960)
Janet Surtrees
(1978-present)[1]
Website
http://www.jamesarness.com

James Arness (born May 26, 1923)[2] is an American actor, best known for portraying Marshal Matt Dillon on Gunsmoke for 20 years. His brother was the late actor, Peter Graves. Arness has the distinction of having played the role of Marshal Matt Dillon in five separate decades: 1955 to 1975 in the weekly series, then in Return to Dodge (1987) and four more made-for-TV Gunsmoke movies in the 1990s.

Contents

Early life

Arness was born as James Aurness in Minneapolis, Minnesota. His parents were Rolf Cirkler Aurness (July 1894 - July 1982), a businessman, and Ruth (née Duesler) Aurness (d. September 1986), a journalist. His father's ancestry was Norwegian, his mother's German.[3] The family name had been Aursnes, but when Rolf's father Peter Aursnes immigrated from Norway in 1887, he changed it to Aurness.[2] He was raised as a Methodist[4].

Arness attended John Burrows Grade School, Washburn High School and West High School in Minneapolis. Despite "being a poor student and skipping many classes", he graduated from high school in June 1942. He then enlisted in the United States Army to serve in World War II.[2]

Arness had a brother, actor Peter Graves (1926–2010). (Peter Aurness used the stage name "Graves," a maternal family name.)[2] He too was raised as a Methodist.

In his prewar years, Arness worked as a courier for a jewelry wholesaler, loading and unloading railway boxcars at the Minneapolis freightyards, and logging in Pierce, Idaho.[2]

Military service in World War II

Arness wanted to be a naval fighter pilot, but he felt his poor eyesight would bar him. His height of 6 feet 7 inches (2.01 m) ended his hopes, since 6 feet 2 inches (1.88 m) was the limit for aviators. Instead, he was called for the Army and reported to Fort Snelling in March 1943.[2]

Arness served as a rifleman with the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division, and was severely wounded during Operation Shingle, at Anzio, Italy.[5]

According to James Arness – An Autobiography, he landed on Anzio Beachhead on January 21, 1944 as a rifleman with 2nd Platoon, E Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Regiment of the 3rd Infantry Division. Due to his height, he was the first ordered off his landing craft to determine the depth of the water; it came up to his waist.[2]

On January 29, 1945, having undergone surgery several times, Arness was honorably discharged. His wounds have bothered him ever since, and in recent years Arness has suffered from acute leg pain[1] which even prevents him from mounting a horse. He underwent a series of operations to remove bullet fragments that had fused into the bone.[citation needed]

His decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart;[1] the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with three bronze battle stars, the World War II Victory Medal and the Combat Infantryman Badge.[6]

Acting career

After his discharge, James Aurness entered Beloit College in Wisconsin. He began his performing career as a radio announcer in Minnesota in 1945.[7]

Aurness soon began acting, and appeared in films. He began with RKO, which immediately changed his name to 'Arness'. His film debut was as Loretta Young's (Katie Holstrom) brother, Peter Holstrom, in "The Farmer's Daughter" (1947).[1] John Wayne was originally offered the starring role in an upcoming TV western drama entitled Gunsmoke. Wayne turned down the offer but strongly recommended Arness for the role. Though identified with westerns, Arness also appeared in two science fiction films, The Thing from Another World (in which he portrayed the title character) and Them!. He was a close friend of John Wayne and co-starred with him in Big Jim McLain, Hondo, Island in the Sky, and The Sea Chase.

After Gunsmoke ended, Arness performed in western-themed movies and television series, including How the West Was Won, and in five made-for-television Gunsmoke movies between 1987 and 1994. An exception was as a big city police officer in a short-lived 1981 series, McClain's Law.

Arness did the narration for Harry Carey Jr.'s Comanche Stallion (directed by Clyde Lucas).[8]

Filmography

Gunsmoke

Until 2010, Gunsmoke had the longest run of any scripted primetime American television series with recurring characters.[9] As of 2010 it is the sixth globally, after Doctor Who (1963–1989), Taggart (1983-), The Bill (1984–2010), The Simpsons (1989-) and Law & Order (1990–2010). James Arness and Milburn Stone portrayed their Gunsmoke characters for twenty consecutive years, as did Kelsey Grammer as the television character Frasier Crane.[10]

Films

1947 The Farmer's Daughter
1947 Man From Texas
1947 Roses Are Red (film)
1949 Battleground
1950 Wagon Master
1950 Sierra
1950 Two Lost Worlds
1950 Double Crossbones
1950 Stars In My Crown
1950 Wyoming Mail
1951 Cavalry Scout
1951 Belle le Grand
1951 Iron Man
1951 The Thing (1951), Science Fiction
1951 The People Against O'Hara
1952 Carbine Williams
1952 Hellgate(movie)


1952 The Girl In White
1952 Big Jim McLain
1952 Horizons West
1953 The Lone Hand
1953 Ride The Man Down
1953 Island In The Sky
1953 Veils of Bagdad
1954 Them!, Science Fiction
1954 Hondo
1954 Her Twelve Men
1955 Flames of the Islands
1955 Many Rivers to Cross
1955 The Sea Chase
1956 Arizona Mission
1956 Gun The Man Down
1956 The First Traveling Saleslady
1959 Alias Jesse James—(as Marshal Matt Dillon)[11]

Television

1950 The Lone Ranger (1 episode as Deputy Bud Titus)[12][13]
1954 Lux Video Theatre "The Chase"
1956 Front Row Center
1959 The Red Skelton Chevy Special
1961 The Chevrolet Golden Anniversary Show
1972 A Salute to Television's 25th Anniversary
1976 The Macahans
1977 How The West Was WonMiniseries
1978 - 1979 How The West Was Won—TV series
1981 McClain's Law
1987 The Alamo: 13 Days to Glory— as Jim Bowie[14]
1988 Red River(1988)[15] remake of Red River(1948)

Gunsmoke Television Movies

1987 Gunsmoke: Return to Dodge
1990 Gunsmoke II: The Last Apache
1992 Gunsmoke III: To The Last Man
1993 Gunsmoke IV: The Long Ride
1993 Gunsmoke V: One Man's Justice

Personal life

Arness has been married twice, first to Virginia Chapman from 1948 until their divorce in 1960.[18] She died in 1976. Arness has been married to Janet Surtrees since 1978.[1] He has two sons, Rolf (b. February 18, 1952) and Craig (d. December 14, 2004).[19] His daughter Jenny Lee Aurness (b. May 23, 1950) committed suicide on May 12, 1975.[20] Rolf Aurness became World Surfing Champion in 1970.[18] Craig Aurness founded the stock photography agency Westlight and also was a photographer for National Geographic.[21]

Awards

For his contributions to the television industry, Arness has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1751 Vine Street. In 1981, he was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Arness was inducted into the Santa Clarita Walk of Western Stars in 2006, and gave a related TV interview.[1]

On the 50th anniversary of television in 1989, People Magazine chose the top 25 television stars of all time. Arness was number 6. [22]

Arness was nominated for the following Emmy awards:[19]

  • 1957: Best Continuing Performance by an Actor in a Dramatic Series
  • 1958: Best Continuing Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Dramatic or Comedy Series
  • 1959: Best Actor in a Leading Role (Continuing Character) in a Dramatic Series

Miscellaneous

  • James Arness's natural hair color was blond.[23]
  • According to Ben Bates, his Gunsmoke stunt double, James Arness laughed "from his toes to the top of his head". Shooting on the Gunsmoke set was suspended because Arness got a case of the uncontrollable giggles.[24]
  • James Arness wrote his autobiography in 2001 because "... if I was going to write a book about my life, I better do it now ... `cause I'm not getting any younger."[25]
  • James Arness first came to Hollywood by hitchhiking.[26]
  • Buck Taylor (Newly on Gunsmoke) thought so highly of James Arness that he named his second son, Matthew, after Arness's character.[27]
  • James Arness disdained publicity and banned reporters from the Gunsmoke set. He was said to be a shy and sensitive man who enjoyed poetry and surfing. TV Guide dubbed him "The Greta Garbo of Dodge City."[28]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f Leon Worden "Newsmaker of the Week: TV Interview Transcript" April 21, 2006, Santa Clara Valley TV Accessed March 15, 2010
  2. ^ a b c d e f g James Arness, James E. Wise Jr. (2001) "James Arness: an Autobiography", ISBN 0-7864-1221-6, McFarland & Company Inc., Accessed March 15, 2010
  3. ^ "Ancestry of James Arness" genealogy.com Accessed 17 March 2010
  4. ^ http://www.adherents.com/largecom/fam_meth.html
  5. ^ http://www.nndb.com/people/954/000022888/
  6. ^ [1]"James Arness Medals," GunsmokeNet.com
  7. ^ "James Arness' Official Website-Biography" Accessed March 15, 2010
  8. ^ Staci Layne Wilson (2007) "Animal Movies Guide" p.292, ISBN 978-0-9675185-3-4, Running Free Press, Accessed March 15, 2010
  9. ^ Gunsmoke - Museum of Broadcast Communications
  10. ^ [2]"What do Frasier (Kelsey Grammer), Matt Dillon (James Arness) and Doc Adams (Milburn Stone) have in common?" GunsmokeNet.com
  11. ^ "Alias Jesse James (1959) - Cast List" Yahoo! Movies Accessed 18 March 2010
  12. ^ "Lone Ranger Fan Club" lonerangerfan.com Accessed 17 March 2010
  13. ^ [3] "Gunsmoke was not James Arness' first television western," GunsmokeNet.com
  14. ^ "The Alamo Thirteen Days to Glory-Overview" New York Times, Accessed 17 March 2010
  15. ^ "James Arness-Filmography" Fandango.com Accessed 17 March 2010
  16. ^ James Arness Filmography jamesarness.com Accessed 16 March 2010
  17. ^ "TV Guide-James Arness:Credits" tvguide.com Accessed 17 March 2010
  18. ^ a b Drew Kampion (December 2000) "Rolf Aurness Biography" Surf Line Accesssed March 15, 2010
  19. ^ a b "TV Guide-James Arness:Biography" TV Guide Accessed 17 March 2010
  20. ^ "Jenny Lee Aurness" findagrave Accesssed March 15, 2010
  21. ^ Accessed July 9, 2010
  22. ^ [4] People Magazine, 1989.
  23. ^ [5]"James Arness is a blonde! " GunsmokeNet.com
  24. ^ [6]"In Gunsmoke, we never see Matt have a good belly laugh," GunsmokeNet.com
  25. ^ [7]"James Arness wrote his autobiography in 2001," GunsmokeNet.com
  26. ^ [8]"How did James Arness first come to Hollywood?" GunsmokeNet.com
  27. ^ [9]"Buck Taylor's son Matthew" GunsmokeNet.com
  28. ^ [10] "The Greta Garbo of Dodge City," GunsmokeNet.com

External links








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