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James Arness Dies at Age 88

James Arness
In this May 13, 2002 file photo, actor Jim Arness, best known for his role as Marshal Matt Dillon of “Gunsmoke,” is shown at his home in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles. CBS spokesman Chris Ender says Arness died Friday, June 3, 2011 of natural causes. He was 88. (AP Photo/Krista Niles, file)
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In this May 13, 2002 file photo, actor Jim Arness, best known for his role as Marshal Matt Dillon of "Gunsmoke," is shown at his home in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles. CBS spokesman Chris Ender says Arness died Friday, June 3, 2011 of natural causes. He was 88. (AP Photo/Krista Niles, file)

James Arness, who played Marshal Matt Dillon on “Gunsmoke,” has passed away at the age of 88.

The Los Angeles Times confirmed that Arness passed of natural causes in Brentwood, California.

“Gunsmoke” was the longest running network drama in televison history with the most episodes. It finished with 635 episodes and went on for 20 seasons.

“James Arness will always be remembered as one of the biggest stars in the history of television, playing an iconic role on the medium’s longest-running prime-time drama ever,” CBS said in a statement.

Arness was 32 when he took the lead role in “Gunsmoke,” after longtime friend John Wayne declined to take the call.

Known for playing the mythical character Marshall Matt Dillon, Arness patrolled the town of Dodge City. Acting as the head honcho, if you did something wrong, Marshall Dillion would make you pay for it.

Arness attended Beloit College in Wisconsin. Drafted into the Army during his freshmen year in 1942, Arness was wounded in the leg in 1944 at Anzio, Italy. After returning home, he worked in Minneapolis and was a radio announcer in small theaters.

When “Gunsmoke” was canceled, Arness continue to shine in spotlight. He was a part of the TV movie, “The Macahans.” After that, he stared in the ABC series “How the West Was Won” from 1978-79.

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