James Arness - Famous Television Producer

James Arness Net Worth


James Arness, a famous American actor, had a net worth estimated at $8 million by the time of his death in June 2011. Best known for his iconic role as Matt Dillon in Gunsmoke, a leading character from 1955 to 1975.

Key facts:

The achievements of James Arness mentioned in the text are:
  • He is best known for his role as Matt Dillon in the TV series "Gunsmoke" from 1955 to 1975.
  • He appeared as Zeb Macahan in the TV series "How the West Was Won" from 1976 to 1979.
  • Arness also starred in films like "The Farmer's Daughter," "Iron Man," and "The First Traveling Saleslady."
  • He reprised his role as Matt Dillon in five made-for-television movies in the 199s.
  • Arness was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 196, located at 1751 Vine Street.
  • He was nominated for three Primetime Emmy Awards for his role in "Gunsmoke."
  • James was the older brother of "Mission: Impossible" actor Peter Graves.

Basic Information About James Arness

CategoryCelebrities β€Ί Actors
ProfessionsActor, Soldier, Television Producer
Net worth$8,000,000
Date of birth1923-05-26
Place of birthMinneapolis
Date of death2011-06-03 (aged 88)
NationalityUnited States of America
Curiosities and TrademarksCommanding voice
Towering height
The role of Matt Dillon on Gunsmoke (1955).
SpouseJanet Arness - (16 DecemberΒ 1978 - 3 JuneΒ 2011)Β (his death)
Virginia Chapman - (12 FebruaryΒ 1948 - 5 AprilΒ 1963)Β (divorced)Β (3 children)
Height6 ft 7 in (2.007 m)
Social Mediaβ†—οΈŽ Wikipedia β†—οΈŽ IMDb

What Movie Awards did James Arness win?


Golden Globe

Golder Raspberry


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James Arness's Quotes

  • "If they were man and wife, it would make a lot of difference. The people upstairs decided it was better to leave the show as it was, which I totally agreed with." - on why his Gunsmoke character, Marshal Dillon, never married Miss Kitty.
  • I had the pleasure of knowing Ronald Reagan before he became Governor of California. He was a truly great human being and we usually spent our time together reminiscing about mutual friends. He will be missed by all who knew him and by a nation that will mourn with us. (2004)
  • I have met many other actors who were great also, but there was something about him that was so special He was just off in a class by himself somehow. It was a real privilege really to be around the man and to know him. I was with his company for three years, and it was just a special time. - On John Wayne
  • With Gunsmoke (1955), we had an outstanding quality of writing. The show had been on radio for three years, so they were able to fine-tune the characters. What made us different from other westerns was the fact that Gunsmoke wasn't just action and a lot of shooting; they were character-study shows. They're interesting to watch all these years later.
  • [on Gunsmoke's cancellation in 1975]: We didn't do a final, wrap-up show. We finished the 20th year, we all expected to go on for another season, or two or three. They (the network) never told anybody they were thinking of canceling us.

James Arness's photos

James Arness Net Worth: A Glance into the Life of a Legendary Actor

James Arness was an American actor who appeared in several films and television programs. He is best known for his role in Gunsmoke, which made him a household name and fetched him a substantial fortune. With a net worth of $8 million, Arness made a great contribution to the film industry and American television during the Golden Age.

What was James Arness known for?

James’ popularity can be entirely attributed to his remarkable performance in Gunsmoke, an American western television series that aired for over two decades. The show premiered on CBS in the fall of 1955 and ran for 20 seasons. Despite his portrayal of Marshall Matt Dillon being a daunting task, James’ acting abilities were a fundamental reason why Gunsmoke was such a massive commercial success. In addition to the show, James made notable appearances in several films, which showcased his versatility as an actor.

Early Life and Education

James Arness was born on 26th May 1923 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He was raised together with his younger brother, Peter Graves. James’ parents passed away at a young age, requiring the brothers to move from one relative to another until a close friend of their family assumed their guardianship. James’ tall and lean frame worked against him in high school athletics, which led him to take dramatic arts classes.


James briefly served in the military during World War II, serving with distinction being a highly decorated member of the U.S. Army Infantry Division before suffering severe injuries in Italy from German machine gun fire in the leg and foot that left him bedridden for more than seven months.

After being discharged from the military in 1945, James resumed his passion of working as a theatre actor before transitioning to the television and film industry. Despite initially struggling to find work, James caught a break in 1947, where he was cast in the film, The Farmer’s Daughter.

The most iconic role he played in Gunsmoke, which brought James national fame and immense fortune. In addition to the show, James starred in numerous other movies and shows, cementing his position in Hollywood as a versatile actor that commanded high salaries.


James Arness earned many achievements throughout his career in the entertainment industry. In 196, the actor was awarded a star on Hollywood Walk of Fame for ‘Television’ for his role in Gunsmoke. James was also nominated for three Primetime Emmy Awards as a Lead Actor in a Drama Series during the run of the Gunsmoke series.

After Gunsmoke ended, James made various television guest appearances and toured the country with some of the Gunsmoke cast. He reprised his role from Stalag 17 when he starred in a production of the son Of Film Festival in Colorado Springs. James filmed five Gunsmoke TV movie sequels between 199 and 1994.

In short, James Arness’s outstanding performance undoubtedly influenced some of Hollywood and helped to shape the America television industry into what It is today.

In conclusion, James Arness remains an icon on our living room screens and set a standard for acting with his exceptional talent and legacy. His skillful display of his art will go down as one of the greatest performances ever seen on American television. Although James passed away eight years ago, there is no doubt that he will continue to inspire actors and fans for generations to come.

Interesting Facts about James Arness

  1. Honorary United States Marshal, "in recognition of his unique contribution to the image and traditions of the U.S. Marshal's Service".
  2. Became U.S. Marshal Matt Dillon on Gunsmoke (1955) after John Wayne suggested Arness to play it. (Wayne himself, contrary to legend, was never offered the role.).
  3. His daughter and actress, Jenny Lee Arness, committed suicide on Monday, May 12th, 1975.
  4. According to an article on TV westerns in Time magazine (March 30, 1959), Arness stood 6' 7", weighed 235 lbs, and had chest-waist-hips measurements of 48-36-36. However, Arness usually gave his own height as 6' 6" in interviews.
  5. Inducted (as a cast member of Gunsmoke (1955)) into the Hall of Great Western Performers of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in 1981.
  6. On Friday, June 20th, 2003, Arness was honored at Los Angeles City Hall by the mayor, the 15 City Council members and the City Attorney with a resolution honoring his life's work as an actor and 60-year resident of Los Angeles. The colorful resolution included a depiction of a U.S. Marshal's badge and a salute to his work as Matt Dillon on Gunsmoke (1955) and its over-20-year duration as TV's longest-running drama series. It also recalled his heroism during World War II and thanked him for "leaving us with one of the most telling and realistic portraits ever created of the brave, tall man in the saddle who tames a western town as he searches for justice and peace." Arness called it "the most wonderful day in his life" and says the resolution is now framed and in a prominent place in his home. He received a standing ovation that morning.
  7. Held the record for the longest continuous role portrayed by a single actor (20 years) on prime-time television (for Marshal Matt Dillon on the CBS western Gunsmoke (1955)), until Kelsey Grammer (Dr. Frasier Crane on Cheers (1982) and Frasier (1993)) tied the record in 2004 (at 20 years).
  8. Was rightly touted as the tallest leading man in Hollywood, although this title has since been taken by other stars, mainly basketball players turned "actors."
  9. Member of Beta Theta Pi Fraternity
  10. Very, very often during his career, this huge actor was surrounded by co-stars standing on apple boxes or had to perform standing in a ditch just so he could be in a shot.
  11. Father of Jenny Lee Arness (born May 23, 1950) and Rolf Aurness (born February 18, 1952), with Virginia Chapman. He also adopted her son from her first marriage, Craig (born 1946).
  12. His status as a Republican disappointed Lady Bird Johnson, who was a fan of Gunsmoke (1955).
  13. Attended Beloit College.
  14. Did not attend the premiere of The Thing from Another World (1951) because he found his role as the Thing embarrassing. He often remarked that he felt his make up as "The Thing" made him look like a giant carrot.
  15. Made four movies with his close friend John Wayne during the 1950s. He was also originally cast in Rock Hudson's role opposite Wayne in The Undefeated (1969). Wayne personally recommended Arness for the lead role in Gunsmoke (1955), and filmed an introduction for the first episode.
  16. Confirmed in a 2001 interview that he is completely retired from acting because he no longer has the stamina for it.
  17. He never played the lead male role in a theatrical movie, only on the various televised incarnations of "Gunsmoke". In his theatrical films, he usually acted along tall leading men such as John Wayne, Robert Ryan and Jeff Chandler.
  18. Although they never married, he had a long-term relationship and lived with actress Thordis Brandt.
  19. Fought in the US Army during World War II, taking part in the landing at Anzio, Italy, where he was wounded. He received the Bronze Star; the Purple Heart; the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with three bronze campaign stars; the World War II Victory Medal and the Combat Infantryman Badge.
  20. He is survived by his wife, Janet Surtees of Brentwood, Los Angeles, California; son, Rolf Arness; stepson, Jim Surtees; six grandchildren, and a great grandchild. His adopted son, Craig, died in 2004 and his daughter Jenny died in 1975.

James Arness Famous Network

Male Actors ♂️ With Net Worth Closest To $8,000,000

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