James Arness of 'Gunsmoke' fame dies at 88 - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

James Arness of 'Gunsmoke' fame dies at 88

CBS spokesman Chris Ender says former "Gunsmoke" star James Arness has died at age 88. Ender had no further details, but Arness' official website said the actor died Friday of natural causes.

Arness played U.S. Marshal Matt Dillon in the Western series that ran on CBS from 1955 to 1975, becoming the longest-running dramatic series in network history until NBC's "Law & Order" tied.

The Minnesota native was 32 when friend John Wayne declined the lead role in "Gunsmoke" and recommended Arness instead.

Arness said he left home at age 18, hopping freight trains and ships.

He was wounded in World War II, then went to Hollywood where he had parts in more than 20 films before going to "Gunsmoke."

He was the brother of Peter Graves, star of the TV series "Mission Impossible."

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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