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James King Arness (Aurness)

Also Known As: "James King Arness"
Birthplace: Minneapolis, Hennepin, Minnesota, United States
Death: June 03, 2011 (88)
Brentwood, Los Angeles, California, United States (natural causes)
Place of Burial: Glendale, Los Angeles, California, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Rolf Cirkler Aurness and Ruth Eleanore Salisbury Duesler
Husband of Private
Ex-husband of Virginia Chapman
Father of Jenny Lee Arness and Private
Brother of Peter Graves

Occupation: Skuespiller (Actor)
Managed by: Remi Trygve Pedersen
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About James Arness

Actor. He is best remembered for his role of 'Marshal Matt Dillon' in the long-running television Western "Gunsmoke" (1955 to 1975). Born James King Aurness, his father was a traveling salesman, his mother was a newspaper columnist. He briefly attended Beloit College in Wisconsin before his service with the United States Army during World War II. He would suffer severe leg wounds (he was recipient of the Purple Heart and Bronze Star) during the Anzio landing and after his recovery and return home, he joined a theater group, earning a living as a advertising man and real estate agent. He launched his career in entertainment as a radio announcer in his hometown of Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1945, and marked his motion picture debut two years later in the film "The Farmer's Daughter". Further movie roles followed with "Battleground" (1949) and "Sierra" (1950), however his casting (due to his large physical frame) in the title role for the classic science fiction film "The Thing from Another World" (1951), and his part in "Them!" (1954), is how movie audience may perhaps best remember him. After the concept for "Gunsmoke" was conceived, producers originally had John Wayne in mind for the part of Matt Dillon. However, Wayne would pass on the role and refer it to his friend James Arness. During his 20-year tenure as television's Dodge City law enforcer, Arness garnered three Emmy Award nominations and later became familiar to television audiences for his role in the series "How the West Was Won" (1978 to 1979) and as Detective 'Jim McClain' in "McClain's Law" (1981 to 1982). He was the recipient of a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He was the older brother of actor Peter Graves. He died from natural causes.

Bio by: C.S.

1923 - 2011

Nekrolog/Obituary (Los Angeles Times):,...

James Arness (born May 26, 1923) is an American actor, best known for portraying Marshal Matt Dillon on Gunsmoke for 20 years. His brother was the late actor, Peter Graves. Arness has the distinction of having played the role of Marshal Matt Dillon in five separate decades: 1955 to 1975 in the weekly series, then in Return to Dodge (1987) and four more made-for-TV Gunsmoke movies in the 1990s.

His star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (television) is located at 1751 Vine St.

Sources and Resources James Arness – western hero and Norwegian viking Are you hailing from Sykkylven in Møre og Romsdal, Norway? Well, then you might be related to the great film and television icon that was James Arness. In 1887, his grandfather Peter Andreas Olson Aursnes emigrated from Norway to America. The farm and family name Aursnes or Ørsnes - became Aurness - and then finally Arness. When reading «James Arness: an autobiography» it becomes clear that James identified as a Norwegian. The opening paragraph is the first indication:

«When my grandfather landed on Ellis Island in 1887, his name was Peter Aursnes, but «I had to throw away the s in the middle of my name», he reminded his father and brother in a letter dated 4 September 1893. Because the Americans could not pronounce the Norwegian, his family should spell the name «Aurness» when they wrote to him».

A later photo in the book is captioned «Dad, Peter and me. The happy Vikings!»

James Arness even got his first movie-part based on his ability to speak with a Scandinavian accent. That was in the film «The farmer’s daughter» from 1947 – starring Loretta Young and Joseph Cotten.

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James Arness's Timeline

May 26, 1923
Minneapolis, Hennepin, Minnesota, United States
May 23, 1950
Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, United States
June 3, 2011
Age 88
Brentwood, Los Angeles, California, United States
Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, Los Angeles, California, United States