For those who have followed the CBS TV series Gunsmoke, it’s easy to connect with James Arness, who played Marshal Matt Dillon for two decades. Arnes was an actor who spent nearly five decades on screen. Deceased since 2011, his name is still not lost, he has not seen anything of what he accomplished during his lifetime.
James Arness’ Organic
The actor was born James King Aurness on May 26, 1923, in the United States, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Of German and Norwegian descent, he was raised with his brothers, Peter Graves, by their parents. Rolf Cirkler Aurness who was a businessman and Ruth Duesler. His parents divorced in the 1940s.
For his education, the actor went to John Burroughs Grade School, before going to Washburn High School, then to West High School in Minneapolis. Before graduating in 1942, Arness held a variety of jobs, including loading and unloading railroad cars, as well as couriering a jewelry wholesaler.
What James Arness had wanted to become after graduation was a naval fighter pilot, but that was not possible given his towering height of 6ft 7in, five inches taller than the 6ft 2in that was the limit for the airmen. Because of this, he decided to join the US Army where he served from 1943 to 1945 when he had to take a break after being injured.
After leaving the army, James started working as a radio announcer before becoming an actor and changing his name to ‘Aurness’. He had his first role in 1947 when he appeared in The Farmer’s Daughter The same year, he appeared in Roses Are Red By 1993, he had already acted in almost 40 films.
On television he appeared in a number of productions including The Lone Ranger (1950), Lux Video Theater (1954) and Gunsmoke (1955-1975) which became his greatest work. His career has been rewarded with a few accolades, including three Emmy Award nominations.
Not since James Arness has there been another actor who has portrayed a character for as long as 20 years; a feat he accomplished with Gunsmoke. This allowed him to hold the record for the longestcontinuous portrayal by an actor. Through this and many other things he was involved in, Arness left behind an estimated net worth of $8 million after his death.
Brother, wife and children
As noted, the actor was raised with his brother, Peter Graves, who was also an actor. Peter was born six years after James and he became popular for his roles in the CBS television series Mission Impossible which ran from 1967 to 1973 and Plane! (1980). Graves died in 2010, a year before his older brother.
James Arness married twice in his life. The first time he was married to Virginia Chapman, who was also an actress. The two married in 1948, but by 1960 the union had already ended in divorce. Before that, they had two children. Rolf and Jenny but he also adopted a son of Chapman from another marriage.
His second wife was Janet Surtees, whom he married in 1978. They remained together until the actor’s death.
His children were Rolf Arness, Craig Arness and Jenny Lee Arness while his stepson was Jim Surtees. In 1975, the actor lost Jenny Lee Arness, who committed suicide around the age of 25. Craig also died in 2004.
Is James Arness Alive or Dead?
As far as you’ll ever find people asking James Arness is either still alive or dead as of 2011. The actor died June 3 in Los Angeles, aged 88, at his home in Brentwood. The cause of death is said to be natural. He was buried in California at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale.
James Arness was a blessed man of good height and build. With a very powerful voice, he stands at an imposing height of around 6 feet 7 inches. That said, the actor has always claimed that his height is 6-foot-6 instead of 7.
He weighed 235 lbs while his chest-waist-hip dimensions were 48-36-36.