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James Arness’s Farewell Note

June 3, 2011

Sheriff Matt Dillon has ridden out of Dodge:

It takes a special kind of lawman to carry on for 20 years in the Wild West of TV.

Matt Dillon, the mythical marshal of Dodge City, stood tall – all 6 feet, 6 inches of him – on “Gunsmoke” from 1955 to 1975. He outlasted dozens of other Western heroes while making history on TV’s longest-running dramatic series, a record that held until NBC’s “Law & Order” tied the CBS Western’s record in 2010.

Through all those gunslinging years, James Arness, who died Friday, kept Marshal Dillon righteous, peace-seeking and, most of all, believable.

And: He left a note of farewell on his website:

Hi friends,

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 some 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.

Sincerely,
Jim Arness

That right there is one hell of a guy. RIP, Jim Arness, from all of us at the BRI.

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Elizabeth
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My husband and I watch GUNSMOKE every single day it is on T V Land..We love Matt Dillon and the entire cast.Two of my late Uncles Joe and John attended the same church in Santa Monica as DOC A wonderful legacy has been left by the entire cast of Gunsmoke. My own husband a tall man too served in Korea and has the same gentle yet very capable strong character as Matt Dillon..James Arness.Today’s T V shows are terrible.

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