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James Arness
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    (May 26, 1923-June 3, 2011)
    Birth name is James Aurness
    Acted in 'The Thing from Another World (1951),' 'Big Jim McLain (1952),' and 'Them! (1954)'
    Best known for playing Marshall Matt Dillon on 'Gunsmoke'
    Inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers (1981)
    He was offered the role of Matt Dillon only after John Wayne turned it down.
    His daughter committed suicide (1975).
    He worked as the lead on 'Gunsmoke' for twenty years, being tied for the record with Kelsey Grammar over the longest continuous role portrayed by a single actor.
    He surfed on California beaches after his first movie role and generally lived a leisure life.
    He is known almost exclusively for his work in westerns.
    His brother is Peter Graves.
    John Wayne initially took him under his wing and after recommending the role of Matt Dillon to him, he also offered to introduce the series.
    He is 6'7.
    Because of his height, he was placed in the front lines at the Battle of Anzio during World War II and severely injured.
    He eventually had to abandon his two favorite activities, surfing and skiing, because of these injuries.
    He was the tallest actor ever to play a lead role in a television series.
    Partially because of his involvement, 'Gunsmoke' became the longest-running television western.
    Along with Milburn Stone, he stayed the entire 20 year run of 'Gunsmoke.'

Credit: Captain Howdy

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