Friday, June 3, 2011

James Arness and Gunsmoke

My day started with the news that James Arness died which caused a flood of memories as I recalled his weekly presence in our home. My parents' first black and white television set had a tiny screen in a huge cabinet, and it was perched on a table top which swiveled so wherever my dad was sitting he could see the screen. My father loved watching TV westerns even more than he enjoyed watching wrestling (Gorgeous George with gold bobbypins and all). From the time Gunsmoke premiered until my father's death I doubt he ever missed an episode. Watching all of the action on that little-bitty screen, I wonder if Dad ever knew just what a physically large man James Arness was. To my knowledge there was never any scandal involving Mr. Arness, and for 20 years he came into our living room along with Miss Kitty, Chester, Festus, and many actors who already were big stars or who eventually became big stars. I remember when Dad learned that Peter Graves was the real-life brother of James Arness (it pleased him because he also enjoyed watching Mission Impossible). I don't recall that there was ever any scandal involving Peter Graves either, and he too had a long, successful career. How nice that the personal lives of two such fine actors were never fodder for the tabloids leaving their fans' admiration and respect intact. James Arness gifted my dad with years of entertainment, and I hope that somehow my dad will catch a glimpse of his favorite Sheriff in Heaven.

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