James Arness

Description   [from Freebase]

James King Arness (May 26, 1923 – June 3, 2011) was an American actor, best known for portraying Marshal Matt Dillon in the television series Gunsmoke for 20 years. Arness has the distinction of having played the role of Dillon in five separate decades: 1955 to 1975 in the weekly series, then in Gunsmoke: Return to Dodge (1987) and four more made-for-TV Gunsmoke movies in the 1990s. In Europe Arness reached cult status for his role as Zeb Macahan in the western series How the West Was Won. His younger brother was actor Peter Graves. Arness was born James Aurness in Minneapolis; he dropped the "u" when he started acting. His parents were Rolf Cirkler Aurness, a businessman, and his wife Ruth Duesler, a journalist. His father’s ancestry was Norwegian; his mother's was German. The family name had been Aursnes, but when Rolf's father, Peter Aursnes, emigrated from Norway in 1887, he changed it to Aurness. Arness and his family were Methodists. Arness' younger brother was actor Peter Graves (1926–2010). Peter used the stage name "Graves", a maternal family name. Arness attended John Burroughs Grade School, Washburn High School and West High School in Minneapolis.
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