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How Did James Arness Die: What Note Did James Arness Leave Before His Death For ‘Gunsmoke’ Fans?

How Did James Arness Die

How Did James Arness Die

As the star of Gunsmoke, James Arness rose to prominence at CBS as the network’s most important actor. For a record-breaking 20 seasons, he effectively portrayed U.S. Marshal Matt Dillon on television. Let’s find out How Did James Arness Die?

Arness believed it was important to leave a statement for his lifelong Gunsmoke admirers to read after his passing, and it no doubt deepened their already profound feelings for the actor.

How Did James Arness Die?

As Marshal Matt Dillon on “Gunsmoke,” American television’s longest-running prime-time drama, James Arness symbolized the towering, rugged lawman of the American frontier. Arness passed away on Friday at the age of 88.

The late Arness passed away of natural causes in his Los Angeles home, according to his manager Ginny Fazer.

As Fazer told Reuters, the actor was in good condition but has “simply been declining” in recent years. She reassured him that he did not have any serious illnesses and that he had simply become exhausted.

John Wayne, Arness’s idol and friend in the entertainment industry, suggested that he perform the part of U.S. Marshal Matt Dillon on television for 20 years.

When “Gunsmoke” ended its run on CBS in 1975, Arness had broken the record for the longest-running role played by a single actor in prime time. Kelsey Grammer’s 20-year run as psychiatrist Frasier Crane on the NBC sitcoms “Cheers” and “Frasier” set a record that remained unbroken until now.

CBS said in a statement, “James Arness will always be regarded as one of the biggest actors in the history of television, portraying an iconic role on the medium’s longest-running prime-time drama ever.”

The radio version of Gunsmoke, starring William Conrad as Matt Dillon, first aired on CBS in 1952. Its television debut marked the beginning of a new genre of television shows called “adult westerns,” which aimed to portray gunslingers and cowboys in a way that would be more appealing to adults than to children.

While it failed to dominate the ratings when it first aired, “Gunsmoke” went on to dominate American television from 1957 to 1961.

More than 30 westerns competed with “Gunsmoke” for viewers during prime time on network television at one point, but the long-running western ultimately prevailed.

James Arness Left A Note Before His Death For ‘Gunsmoke’ Fans

After his death, Arness requested that his wife Janet write a letter to his devoted supporters and post it online.

In the years he spent touring rodeos and fairs in his Gunsmoke character, Matt, and interacting with the show’s devoted fan base, it was clear that he treasured his followers and felt deep gratitude for their devotion.

Source: CBC

Here is the letter that Arness intended to be distributed after his passing.

“I decided to write a letter to you for Janet to post on our website in the event I was no longer here. I had a wonderful life and was blessed with many loving people and great friends. The best part of my life was my family, especially my wife Janet. Many of you met her at Dodge City so you understand what a special person she is. I wanted to take this time to thank all of you for the many years of being a fan of Gunsmoke, The Thing, How the West Was Won, and all the other fun projects I was lucky enough to have been allowed to be a part of. I had the privilege of working with so many great actors over the years. I was honored to have served in the army for my country. I was at Anzio during WWII and it makes you realize how very precious life is. Thank you again for all the many letters, cards, emails, and gifts we received from you over the years. You are and always have been truly appreciated.”


Jim Arness

James Played Matt Dillon In The Final Season Of “Gunsmoke: One Man’s Justice”

Arness portrayed Matt for an incredible 20 seasons on Gunsmoke. Amanda Blake, who played Miss Kitty Russell, was the only other performer to appear in 20 seasons of television, second only to Doc Adams’ Milburn Stone.

Soon after Gunsmoke ended, Arness landed another successful role as Zed Macahan in How the West Was Won. After that, he tried his hand at a new genre as Det. Jim McClain in McClain’s Law.

Arness reprised his role as Marshal Matt Dillon five more times in TV movies broadcast between 1990 and 1994, the last years of his life. After Gunsmoke: One Man’s Justice failed to match the success of its predecessors, the series was canceled. It was, however, his last performance in a major role.

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