Photo of James Arness James Arness

Born in Minneapolis on May 26, 1923, James Arness -- the older brother of actor Peter Graves -- began his show business career in 1945 as a radio announcer. Persuaded to try acting, Arness headed to Los Angeles and landed his first film role in 1947's The Farmer's Daughter.

Small parts followed for Arness in Battleground (1949) and Wagon Master (1950). A year later, he played the glowing title character in what would become a cult classic: The Thing from Another World. But his career faltered until mentor John Wayne gave Arness roles in three pictures and recommended him for the lead in the TV series "Gunsmoke," which ran 20 years (1955-75), made Arness a star and turned his small-screen persona into an icon.

After "Gunsmoke" was canceled, Arness was back in the saddle in "How the West Was Won," a 1977 miniseries that briefly became a weekly show. Before retiring in 1994, he reprised the part of Matt Dillon in five made-for-TV movies. Arness died June 3, 2011.

James Arness in Hondo


1953 NR

John Wayne is Hondo, an antisocial half-breed who splits his time between the white man and the Apache. Preferring the company of American Indians, Hondo develops an unlikely friendship with a New Mexico farm wife who spends most of her time alone.

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  • James Arness in Them! Them!
  • James Arness in Battleground Battleground
  • James Arness in Big Jim McLain Big Jim McLain
  • James Arness in Island in the Sky Island in the Sky
  • James Arness in The Sea Chase The Sea Chase
  • James Arness in Wagon Master Wagon Master
  • James Arness in Gun the Man Down Gun the Man Down
  • James Arness in Gunsmoke Gunsmoke
  • James Arness in How the West Was Won How the West Was Won
  • James Arness in Gunsmoke: 50th Anniversary Edition: Vol. 1 Gunsmoke: 50th Anniversary Edition: Vol. 1