James Arness Biography

Biography by Published on Updated on 12.Oct.2017
Facts of James Arness
Date of Birth: 1923 , May-26
Age: 95 years old
Birth Nation: United States of America
Height: 6 Feet 7 Inch
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James Arness was a popular American actor who was best known for playing the roles of Marshal Matt Dillon for 20 years in the TV series Gunsmoke. He appeared in several films and television and was considered one of the experienced actor of Hollywood. Arness died at the age of 88 on June 3, 2011, in Los Angeles, California. 

Early Life and Education

James Arness was born on May 26, 1923, in the city of Minneapolis, Minnesota, with the real name James King Aurness. 

For the 20 years of his life he played the role of Dillon in 5 different decades of the life. He belongs from America and adopted actor as his profession. He resided in Brentwood, Los Angeles, California permanently from a long time.

James had completed his education from Minneapolis Washburn high school.  He had also received Alma masters from Beloit College. Since his parents were a businessperson, he wasn’t much interested towards business. His father was from Norway and his mother was from German. The family name was entitled with the title Aursnes, because his father was migrated from Norway in 1887. 


Arness had a dream to be a pilot as a naval fighter. But because of his poor vision and problem in eyesight was the major obstacle that blocked him towards it. Anress yet served as a rifleman during the Infantry Division in the 3rd range within the United States. He also landed on Anzio Beachhead in January 22, 1944 that was mentioned in the Autobiography that stated about James Arness.

He landed during that time as a rifleman with the second platoon. Arness was also sent to General Hospital at Clinton lowa during the time by the U.S. army because of his short height where he was the 1st one offered to have a landing craft for the determination of the complexity of the water. Arness got married with Virdinia Chapman in 1948 and end their relation in 1960.

Personal Life

After the end of first marriage, he got married to Janet Surtees and stayed with her until his death. Arness was the father of 4 children; Rolf, Craig, Jim and Jenny Lee. Arness was awarded with Bronze Star medal and Purple Heart due to his hard work and sincerity across. He also has six grandchildren and one great grandchild. 

There was a high rumor of long term relationship between James Arness and actress Thordis Brandt but they never get married either accepted their relationship in public. 

Net Worth and Body Measurements

Arness bio states he had 6 feet 7 inch tall. But Arness usually stated that his height was 6 feet 6 inch in the regular newspaper and TV interviews. His chest- waist, and hips measurements were 48-36-36 respectively. He was entitled as a tallest leading man in Hollywood by the time.

He had a good amount of net worth before his death. Still it has been found that he was a successful person during his lifetime. He died at the age of 88 on June 3, 2011 in California, Los Angeles. His further information can also be found in wiki.