James Arness- Age, Height, Net Worth, Wife, Marriage

James Arness

James Arness was a well-known American actor. James Arness was best known for over two decades as Marshal Matt Dillon on the CBS television series “Gunsmoke.”

Quick Facts

Full Name:James Arness
Born Date:May 26, 1923
Age:98 years
Lucky Number:10
Lucky Stone:Agate
Lucky Color:Yellow
Best Match for Marriage:Leo, Aquarius, Libra
Death Date:June 3, 2011
Country:United States
Height:6 feet 7 inches (2.01m)
Marital Status:married
WifeJanet Surtees
Break UpThordis Brandt
DivorceVirginia Chapman
Net Worth$8 million USD
Eye ColorLight Brown
Hair ColorGolden White
Birth PlaceMinneapolis, Minnesota
EducationBeloit College
FatherRolf Cirkler Aurness
MotherRuth Duesler
SiblingsPeter Graves
Kids(Two) Rolf and Jenny Lee Arness

James Arness Biography

James Arness was born on May 26, 1923, as James King Aurness. He entered this world in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the United States of America. As a result, he obtained American citizenship and converted to Christianity. Similarly, his zodiac sign was Gemini.

Moving on to his family, he was born to Rolf Cirkler Aurness and Ruth Duesler. His father was a successful businessman, and his mother was an accomplished journalist. Likewise, he had a younger brother named Peter Graves, who was an actor as well.

He attended John Burroughs Grade School, Washburn High School, and West High School in Minneapolis. He graduated from high school in June 1942, despite the fact that he was a poor student who missed several lessons. Arness enrolled at Beloit College in September, where he became a member of the school choir and the Beta Theta Pi fraternity. He enlisted in the military in 1943, as the war in Europe and the Pacific raged. Arness died of natural causes on June 3, 2011, at the age of 88, in his Los Angeles home.

James Arness Height and Weight

James was a tall and massive man after enhancing his body measurements. He stood at 6 feet 7 inches or 2.01 meters in height and weighed 105 kilograms or 235 pounds. Similarly, his actual body measurements were 48-36-26 inches (chest-waist-hip). Additionally, he possessed golden-white hair and light brown eyes.


James was drafted into the US Army in March 1943 and assigned to Fort Snelling. On January 22, 1944, he arrived on the Anzio Beachhead as a rifleman with the 2nd Platoon, E Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment of the 3rd Infantry Division. He was seriously injured in his right leg during the Battle of Anzio and was transferred to the 91st General Hospital in Clinton, Iowa. When he returned to the United States, he was visited by his brother, Peter. He was honorably discharged from the Army on January 29, 1945, after enduring multiple operations.

Arness began his career as a radio announcer in 1945, following his military discharge. Arness hitchhiked to Hollywood with the express purpose of working in the film industry. He portrayed Peter Holstrom, Loretta Young’s (Katie Holstrom) brother, in “The Farmer’s Daughter.”

Despite his association with Westerns, Arness appeared in two science fiction films, “The Thing from Another World” and “Them!” He was a close friend of actor John Wayne. He has co-starred in films such as Big Jim McLain, The Sea Chase, Island in the Sky, and Hondo alongside him.

Moreover, he then starred as Matt Dillon in the long-running television series Gunsmoke. He had to darken his naturally blond hair for the role. Gunsmoke catapulted his career and established him as a global celebrity. When the show concluded in 1975, it was the longest-running primetime drama series in US television history.

James Arness’s Net Worth

As a well-known actor in his day, James amassed considerable wealth. He was estimated to have a net worth of $8 million US dollars at the time of his death.

James Arness Biography Infographic
James Arness Biography

James Arness Wife, Marriage

Arness married Virginia Chapman in 1948 and adopted her son Craig. Along with Craig, Arness and Chapman had a son, Rolf, and a daughter, Jenny Lee Arness. Arness was granted legal custody of the children following their 1963 separation.

After four years of divorce from Chapman, James Arness began dating Thordis Brandt. They dated for approximately six years before deciding to call it quits. In 1978, Arness married Janet Surtees.