Friday, June 3, 2011

we knew him as a cowboy

May 26, 1923 -  June 3, 2011
Some of our heroes on television were also heroes in real life.  This is James Arness, a guy we usually picture sporting a cowboy hat, badge and gun.  Gunsmoke was one of the longest running westerns on television, running from 1955 to 1975.  I loved all the regular characters on the show.  I liked what Marshal Matt Dillon stood for.  He was one of the good guys

I posted this picture because of the uniform he once sported during a world war many years ago.  James Arness fought at Anzio, where he was wounded.  He once wrote that his experience there made him realize how very precious life is.

"His military awards and decorations include: the Bronze Star Medal; the Purple Heart; the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with three bronze service stars; the World War II Victory Medal and the Combat Infantryman Badge."

Today we didn't just lose and old actor - we lost a hero.

There was a role that Arness played where he wasn't a good guy.  Because of his tall stature, 6'7", Jim played the monster in the original The Thing From Another World (1951). He also starred in another science-fiction classic - THEM! (1954). Brother to actor Peter Graves, James Arness got the part of Marshal Dillion because John Wayne had turned down the role (for obvious reasons).  Wayne and Arness were close friends and had worked to together in several of Wayne's movies.  It was John Wayne that recommended James Arness for the part of the Marshall of Dodge City.  He did a good job filling those cowboy boots intended for The Duke himself.

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