6 Connections Between John Wayne and James Arness

Anyone who loves Westerns, or is even familiar with them, would look at the title to this article and say, “Duh. They were probably in six movies together.” No, although they appeared in four movies together, those connections aren’t part of the six items in this list. The parallels between the two Western stars go further than that, even though one man was made famous by movies, and the other by TV. They even shared the same birthday! And how did James Arness get the role of Matt Dillon in the first place? It was John Wayne’s idea.

Casting for the role of Dillon was not easy. Producer and director Charles Marquis Warren jokingly offered the part to John Wayne over a drink one day. Wayne grabbed Warren by the neck and poured his triple martini over Warren’s head. (Heaven forbid a movie star appear on television! Whoever heard of such a thing?) Wayne, however, did recommend a friend and protégé for the part, and even offered to introduce the first episode. That is the story of how James Arness ultimately won the part of Matt Dillon.

The article at Do You Remember also contains several video clips for the real Western fan. Don’t miss the promotional film Wayne made for Gunsmoke. -Thanks, Natasha!


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