Sad news to report: TV Legend James Arness passed away today at the age of 88.
He was best known for his longtime portrayal of Marshal Matt Dillon on the classic Western series Gunsmoke and later on How the West Was Won. The publicity-shy star was interviewed by the Archive of American Television in 2002. Here’s a clip from his two-and-a-half hour interview where he discusses his career success:
The entire interview is available at http://emmytvlegends.org/interviews/people/james-arness
James Arness was interviewed for two-and-a-half hours in Los Angeles, CA. Arness spoke about his early years and experiences, which included serving in the army during World War II, and recalled his start in local radio in Minneapolis. He noted his break into acting in movies and listed several in which he appeared. He described his experiences in early television including anthology series that were done “live.” He then spoke in great detail about the role for which he is most known that of “Marshal Matt Dillon” on Gunsmoke. For Gunsmoke, he talked about his initial reluctance to take the part (until convinced by John Wayne for whom he was under contract), described the series characters and their relationships with each other, and discussed working with the behind-the-scenes talent, including key producers and directors. He also talked about later television roles including his appearance as a regular on the late 1970s western series How the West Was Won. The interview was conducted by Henry Colman on August 16, 2002.
Link to his New York Times obituary.
From his family: “Jim will be deeply missed by his family and friends. In lieu of flowers the family asks that donation be made to United Cerebral Palsy in Jim’s name.”