What is James Arness Net Worth 2023: All You Need To Know

What is James Arness Net Worth 2023 All You Need To Know

In the world of entertainment, James Arness is a name that resonates with countless fans and industry professionals. Many fans are curious about how much James Arness net worth is. 

In this article, Wcnetworth will explore his net worth and salary, early life to his illustrious career, and personal life.

What is James Arness’s Net Worth and Salary 2023

What is James Arness's Net Worth and Salary 2023

James Arness was a famous American actor best known for playing Matt Dillon on the TV show Gunsmoke. At the time of his death in June 2011, he was worth an amazing 8 million USD.

Arness amassed his fortune mostly via his acting profession, with Gunsmoke being one of his most renowned works.

He received $1,200 each episode in the program’s early years, which eventually grew to $20,000 per episode after renegotiating his contract as the show garnered popularity and accolades.

James Arness Overview

James Arness Overview

Early life

James Arness was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in May 1923. Rolf Cirkler Aurness, a businessman and writer Ruth Duesler, were his parents. His father was Norwegian, while his mother was German.

When Rolf’s father, Peter Aursnes, came from Norway in 1887, he altered the family name to Aurness. Arness and his family belonged to the Methodist church.Peter Graves, Arness’ younger brother, was an actor.

In Minneapolis, Arness attended John Burroughs Grade School, Washburn High School, and West High School.

Arness worked as a courier for a jewelry wholesaler, loading and unloading railway boxcars at the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad freight yards in Minneapolis and logging near Pierce, Idaho, during this period.

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In spite of being a poor student and skipping many classes, he graduated from high school in June 1942.


James Arness was an American actor who rose to fame for his portrayal of Marshal Matt Dillon in the CBS television series Gunsmoke. His acting career began after his discharge from military service in 1945 when he started working as a radio announcer at Minneapolis station WLOL.

Determined to break into films, Arness hitchhiked to Hollywood and soon began acting in movies under RKO, who changed his name from Aurness. His film debut was in The Farmer’s Daughter, where he played Loretta Young’s brother, Peter Holstrom.

Arness is best known for his role in Gunsmoke, which aired for 20 years from 1955 to 1975. The show was groundbreaking as it was the first Western drama to appeal to a more adult audience, featuring plenty of action and introspection.

Marshal Dillon, Arness’s character, often had to think his way out of problems rather than just resorting to violence.

After the surprising cancellation of Gunsmoke in 1975, Arness continued his successful career with another Western project, a TV-movie-miniseries-series combination called How The West Was Won.

He also starred in a brief modern police drama, McClain’s Law (1981), and reprised his role as Marshal Dillon in several Gunsmoke movies throughout the 1990s.

In addition to his work in Westerns, Arness appeared in two science-fiction films, The Thing from Another World and Them!, and played supporting roles in films starring his close friend John Wayne, such as Big Jim McLain, Hondo, Island in the Sky, and The Sea Chase.

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He even starred in a 1988 TV remake of Wayne’s 1948 classic Red River, taking on Wayne’s role as Tom Dunson.

During his career, Arness received many awards and honors. He was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame located at 1751 Vine Street.

He was also inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.

In 1989, on the 50th anniversary of television, he was recognized as one of People magazine’s top 25 television stars of all time.

He was also nominated for several Emmy Awards for his performance in Gunsmoke.

Despite his fame and success, Arness was known to be a private and sensitive man who enjoyed poetry, yacht racing, and surfing. 

He passed away from natural causes on June 3, 2011, at the age of 88, leaving behind a legacy as one of the most iconic actors in American television history.

Personal life

In 1948, Arness married Virginia Chapman and adopted her son Craig. Arness and Chapman had a son, Rolf, and a daughter, Jenny Lee Arness, in addition to Craig.

Arness was given legal custody of the children when they divorced in 1963. Jenny, her daughter, died of a heroin overdose in 1975. Virginia, his ex-wife, died of a heroin overdose in 1977.

James Arness met Thordis Brandt four years after his divorce from Virginia Chapman, and they dated for six years before splitting up. Arness married Janet Surtees in 1978.

Why is James Arness famous?

Why is James Arness famous

James Arness rose to prominence as Marshal Matt Dillon in Gunsmoke, a role associated with his name. His remarkable acting abilities, commanding presence, and ability to bring complicated characters to life won him fans worldwide.

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Arness’ brilliance and passion to his trade set him apart, and he is now one of the entertainment industry’s most revered individuals.

FAQs about James Arness

FAQs about James Arness

What was James Arness cause of death?

On June 3, 2011, Arness died of natural causes at 88 in his Brentwood home in Los Angeles.

What did James Arness do in the war?

After finishing high school, Arness joined the United States 3rd Infantry Division and served as a rifleman during the war. He was seriously wounded during Operation Shingle in Anzio, Italy 1944. Arness was honorably discharged on January 29, 1945, after undergoing many operations.

What happened on the last episode of Gunsmoke?

The Sharecroppers, the penultimate episode, is a cheerful, almost throwaway story about Festus, who, after inadvertently shooting a farm child in the leg, goes to work on his farm as penance.

How much did Festus make per episode?

He went on to earn 20,000 USD every episode, which is almost 150,000 USD today. Arness returned to the program in several made-for-TV movies, including 1987’s Gunsmoke: Return to Dodge. Arness had amassed a substantial fortune from his acting career when he retired.

What is Milburn Stone’s net worth?

Milburn Stone had a net worth of $2.5 million at his death.


James Arness was a legend in the acting industry and will be remembered for his iconic role as Matt Dillon in Gunsmoke. Through his dedication and hard work, Arness accumulated a remarkable net worth of $8 million at the time of his passing. His success is a reminder that anything is possible with focus and determination. Thank you for reading!

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