Saturday, June 04, 2011
James Arness, the actor who played Dodge City lawman Matt Dillon for two decades on Gunsmoke, died Friday. He was 88.
Arness died in his sleep at his home in Brentwood, Calif., according to his business manager, Ginny Fazer.
Arness, a 6-foot-6 Minnesotan, had one of the longest roles in television history as the quietly heroic U.S. Marshal, keeping the peace in one of the West's most violent towns.
He also was a legend in Hollywood for his portrayal of Zeb Macahan in How the West Was Won.
On Friday, his official website carried a letter he had left to be posted after his death.
"I had a wonderful life and was blessed with some many loving people and great friends," he wrote.
"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."