Home » James Arness Bio, Wiki, Height, Weight, Parents, Brother, Children, Death, Net Worth.
James Arness.

James Arness Bio, Wiki, Height, Weight, Parents, Brother, Children, Death, Net Worth.

James Arness Salary and Net Worth.

James Arness earned himself $1,200 per episode for playing Marshal Matt Dillon in Gunsmoke during its early years.

His net worth was estimated to be $ 8 million at the time of his death.

James has acquired his wealth through his lucrative career as a renowned actor.

James Arness Bio.

Born James King Aurness on May 26, 1923, and died June 3, 2011, James Arness was an American actor, best known for portraying Marshal Matt Dillon for 20 years in the CBS television series Gunsmoke.

Arness has the distinction of having played the role of Dillon for five decades.

James was Actor Peter Graves’s older brother.

How Did James Arness Die?

On June 3, 2011, Arness, 88, passed away at his Brentwood residence in Los Angeles due to natural causes. His remains were buried in Glendale, California’s Forest Lawn Memorial Park’s Great Mausoleum’s Sanctuary of Abiding Hope alcove in the Jasmine Terrace section.

James Arness Wiki.

  • Date Of Birth: May 26, 1923.
  • Date Of Death: June 3, 2011.
  • Age: Died at age 88.
  • Zodiac: Gemini.
  • Real Name: James King Aurness.
  • Nickname: James Arness.
  • Place Of Birth: Minneapolis.

Social Media.

Background Information.

  • High School: John Burroughs Grade School, Washburn High School, and West High School.
  • College: Beloit College, University of Minnesota, Bliss-Hayden Theatre School.
  • Hobbies: Poetry, yacht racing, and surfing.
  • Wife: Virginia Chapman, Thordis Brandt, Janet Surtees.
  • Children: Jenny Lee Arness, Craig, Rolf.
  • Father: Rolf.
  • Mother: Ruth Duesler.
  • Siblings/Brothers/Sisters: Peter Graves.
  • Nationality: American.


  • Occupation: American actor, ex-army.
  • Achievements and Awards: Best Continuing Performance by an Actor in a Dramatic Series,
  • Best Continuing Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Dramatic or Comedy Series.
  • Best Actor in a Leading Role (Continuing Character) in a Dramatic Series.
  • Salary: $ 1,200 per episode.
  • Net Worth: $ 8 million.

Body Measurements.

  • Height: 6 feet 7 inches/2.01 meters.
  • Weight: 105 kg/235 pounds.
  • Eye Colour: Brown.
  • Hair Colour: Black.
  • Shoe Size: N/A.

James Arness Height and Weight.

He was relatively tall and stood at an estimated height of 6 feet 7 inches/2.01 meters tall and weighed 105 kg/235 pounds.

James Arness Early Life and Childhood.

While attending high school Arness worked as a courier for a jewelry wholesaler, loading and unloading railway boxcars at the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad freight yards in Minneapolis, and logging in Pierce, Idaho. Despite “being a poor student and skipping many classes,” he graduated from high school in June 1942

James Arness Parents and Siblings.

Arness was born to his father Rolf Cirkler Aurness and Mother, Ruth Duesler in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

His father was a traveling salesman of medical supplies and his mother later became a newspaper columnist.

James was an older brother of Peter Graves.

In order to respect his mother’s family and to avoid confusion with his older brother James Arness, the star of the television series Gunsmoke, he went by the stage name Graves

In 1944, Graves earned his high school diploma from Southwest.

He received the American Campaign Medal and the World War II Victory Medal for his service in the United States Army Air Forces from 1944 to 1945, during which time he attained the rank of corporal. Graves enrolled at the University of Minnesota using the G.I. Bill after being demobilized.

Peter Graves Bio.

Born on March 18, 1926, as  Peter Duesler Aurness, he was the younger brother to James.

In the CBS television series Mission: Impossible from 1967 to 1973 and in its revival from 1988 to 1990, Peter, an American actor, played Jim Phelps.

In both the 1982 follow-up Airplane II: The Sequel and the 1980 comedy Airplane!, Graves portrayed airline pilot Captain Clarence Oveur.

James Arness’s Wife and Children.

Arness was married twice, first to Virginia Chapman in 1948 until their divorce in 1960.

In 1948, Arness wed Virginia Chapman and adopted her son Craig, born in 1946 and died on December 14, 2004. Along with Craig, Arness, and Chapman also had a daughter named Jenny Lee Arness who passed away on May 12, 1975, due to a drug overdose, and a boy named Rolf who was born on February 18, 1952.

Virginia also died of a drug overdose in 1977.

James Arness met Thordis Brandt four years after his divorce from Virginia Chapman, and the two dated for six years before calling it quits.

Later, in 1978, he would wed Janet Surtees, who survived him.

James Arness Daughter.

 Jenny Lee Arness was born on May 23, 1950, in Los Angeles, California, USA.

She was a well-known actress from Gunsmoke (1955). Jenny committed suicide and passed away in Malibu, California, USA, on May 12, 1975.

James Arness Gunsmoke.

He was 32 years of age when he first took up the role in Gunsmoke. When his friend John Wayne turned down the starring role in “Gunsmoke” and suggested Arness in its place, he accepted the part.

Arness first turned it down out of fear of being stereotyped. He was pushed by Wayne to “go ahead and grab it.”

Arvo Ojala, who taught Arness how to shoot, was the first of numerous actors to appear in the opening sequence of the show, in which Marshal Dillon engages in gunfire with “a generic bad guy,” who is meant to stand in for all the enemies Dillon must face.

By the time it ended in 1976, Gunsmoke had gained Arness, his co-stars Milburn Stone, Amanda Blake, Dennis Weaver, Ken Curtis, and Buck Taylor international fame. It had also become the longest-running primetime drama in US television history.

James Arness Movies and TV Shows.

He made his movie debut at RKO. In The Farmer’s Daughter, he made his acting debut as Peter Holstrom, Loretta Young’s (Katie Holstrom) brother. The Farmer’s Daughter gave him the Aurness credit.

Despite being associated with Westerns, Arness also made appearances in The Thing from Another World and Them!, two science-fiction movies in which he played the title role.

He was John Wayne’s close buddy and appeared in minor roles in Big Jim McLain, Hondo, Island in the Sky, and The Sea Chase as well as the fast-paced Western Gun the Man Down for Wayne’s production business.

Additionally, he played Tom Dunson in a 1988 television adaptation of Wayne’s 1948 masterpiece Red River.

Arness appeared in five made-for-television Gunsmoke movies between 1987 and 1994, as well as Western-themed films and television shows like How the West Was Won after Gunsmoke ended.

One exception was his role as a large-city police officer in the brief McClain’s Law television series, which he co-starred in alongside Marshall Colt from 1981 to 1982.

His portrayal of the mountain man Zeb Macahan in the television series How the West Was Won earned him a cult icon in many European nations, where it was even more popular than in the United States due to the series’ frequent reruns.

Movies and Shows Summary.

  • RKO.
  • Farmer’s Daughter.
  • The Thing from Another World.
  • Them.
  • Big Jim McLain.
  • Hondo.
  • Island in the Sky.
  •  The Sea Chase.
  • Gun the Man Down.
  • Red River.
  • How the West Was Won.

James Arness Education.

James attended West High School in Minneapolis.

Following high school, he spent one semester at Beloit College before learning of his draft eligibility in 1943.

James enlisted in the military and received training at Camp Wheeler in Georgia before departing for North Africa. He joined the 3rd Infantry Division in Casablanca just in time for the invasion of Anzio.

German machine gun fire seriously damaged Arness’s leg and foot ten days after the invasion. He was medically discharged from the army as a result of his injuries, which troubled him for the rest of his life.

He would later take a radio course at the University of Minnesota which was suggested to him by his brother Peter Graves who is also a famous actor.

Despite appearing to be headed for success in radio, he traveled to Hollywood on the advice of a childhood friend in order to work as a film extra.

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