Appreciation of Honorary U.S. Marshal James Arness
With the passing of a great friend and Honorary U.S. Marshal—who
solidified the penultimate character of Matt Dillon in Gunsmoke
between 1955 and 1975, we tip our hats to a gentleman who truly got
behind law and order in real life. Several times before and after his
retirement from the series, he gave of his time and energy to the U.S.
Marshals. In 1972, he was invited to Marshals Service headquarters to
speak on his Gunsmoke character. In 1988 the agency called him to
be the narrator and spokesman in “America’s Star,” a composite feature
on the agency filmed in Arizona. Arness introduced the story of the U.S.
Marshals to thousands of newly-recruited deputy U.S. marshals and
interested guests. In 1988, as the U.S. Marshals started the
Bicentennial exhibit under then-Director Stanley Morris, Mr. Arness was
in prominent attendance and gave generously of his time. He was the
second person to be made an Honorary U.S. Marshal—preceded only by
former U.S. President Ronald Reagan.
When Retired U.S. Marshal Larry Hattersley visited Arness half a decade
ago, he noted the serious wounds he received in World War II,
particularly at the Battle of Anzio in 1943, had slowed him a bit.
However, the professional in him never wavered. During Hattersley’s
visit, he posed with his badge and grinned broadly. He was indeed proud
of his long association with the U.S. Marshals—and we will miss him.
Thanks for the ride, Marshal Dillon.
U.S. Marshals Service Director Stan Morris (left) shaking hands with Mr. Arness