Gunsmoke was one of the most popular western series to hit the small screen. The writing, cast, and crew of the show came together every week to bring the Old West to life. Today, audiences around the world can enjoy the finished products of their hard work. We all see the polished, completed episodes. However, there were plenty of bloopers and outtakes along the way.
At the same time, James Arness, the star of Gunsmoke, was known for his easy laugh and great sense of humor. In that respect, he was completely different than his onscreen counterpart, Marshal Matt Dillon. One of the funniest things about watching bloopers from the show is seeing Arness turn his character off and on in the blink of an eye. One moment he’s a grizzled Old West lawman, the next he’s laughing at himself for forgetting his lines. Check out the video below to see just how much fun they were having on the set of the classic show.
One of the best examples of this comes just after the three-minute mark in the video. Marshal Dillon is informing an off-screen character of the severe penalties that come with obstruction of justice. However, the Gunsmoke star forgets his line. Then, when he finally gets the line right, Arness loses it mid-scene and just starts laughing. Seeing the big man’s face light up like that is guaranteed to put a smile on your face. At the same time, it makes you wonder how they ever got anything done on set. It looks like they were constantly seconds away from a laughing fit.
The Gunsmoke Star Behind the Scenes
When James Arness wasn’t cleaning up the streets of Dodge City on Gunsmoke, he was a family man, a WWII veteran, and an all-around good guy. In fact, many people who knew him said that his fairness and sense of right and wrong mirrored those of Marshal Dillon.
Arness once said that he kept his family life and his career separate. “Fortunately,” the Gunsmoke star said, “there aren’t many times when show business intrudes on our family existence.” They were able to live their family life in peace. At the same time, Arness was -and still is- one of the biggest television stars in history.
There is a statue of the Gunsmoke star in Dodge City, Kansas. When they unveiled the statue, many family members and castmates came to speak about the late James Arness. Buck Taylor, who played Newly O’Brien, spoke of Arness’ military service. He was at Anzio beachhead in 1944. When his landing craft reached the shore, Arness was the first man off of the craft. He was the tallest among them. So, they used him to gauge the depth of the water. He was wounded and awarded a Purple Heart and Bronze Star. However, he hardly ever spoke of his heroic service.
Above all, though, the Gunsmoke star was a down-to-earth family man. He never let his considerable fame go to his head. The bloopers in the video above are a great insight into who Arness really was when he wasn’t Matt Dillon.