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June 6, 2011

Badge worn by James Arness as Marshal Matt Dillon in “Gunsmoke”

Filed under: Item of the Day — Matt Anderson @ 9:41 am

James Arness, born in Minneapolis in 1923, passed away at the age of 88 on Friday, June 3, 2011. He grew up in the City of Lakes, where he and his brother (actor Peter Graves) enjoyed what Arness called “a real Huckelberry Finn exisitence.” After graduating from West High School, Arness joined the Army and was wounded at Anzio, Italy, during World War II. He returned to Minnesota and found work as a radio announcer before heading west to Hollywood. In 1955, Arness was cast as Marshal Matt Dillon in the TV Western Gunsmoke, and continued in the role throughout the show’s unprecedented 20-year run.

Badge worn by James Arness as Marshal Matt Dillon in

This badge, worn by Arness in his celebrated role, currently is on display in the Minnesota’s Greatest Generation exhibit here at the Minnesota History Center. The badge, together with a hat and a pair of boots autographed by Arness, is on loan to the Minnesota Historical Society through the courtesy of Mr. Arness’s family.

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