A Sad Loss

Recently we lost an icon of TV westerns - James Arness, better known as Matt Dillon of the longest-running TV western ever – GUNSMOKE.

I was very saddened to hear this, partly because Matt Dillon was my hero in my teens, and also because there are so few TV heroes left – actually, none that I can think of. TV sets no good examples of a strong line between "good" and "bad" any more. The old westerns did that. Cheesy sometimes, but kids understood that if you did something "bad" you had to pay for it. Respect, honor, manners – very little of any of that on TV any more.

GUNSMOKE survived as long as it did because it had several characters with whom one could identify and empathize – like Doc Adams, Chester Good, Festus, and Matt Dillon's long-time "girlfriend" Kitty. The only western hero left as far as I can see is Clint Eastwood. When he is gone it will be a HUGE loss for quality movies as well as another icon of western movies and also TV (remember Rowdy Yates of RAWHIDE?).

I always wanted to be able to meet James Arness, but now that will never happen. But he remains "alive" to me through continued re-runs of GUNSMOKE, which I watch every evening.


  1. How true. Gunsmoke was one of the first "intelligent" westerns. Right up there with my personal favorite Bonanza.

    Nice blog. Very eye appealing.


  2. I loved Jim Arness. He was truly larger than life, and a hero to all the young folks of my time. Ride on, Matt Dillon, ride on!