Arness WAS Dillon
If I had lived in the Old West, there would have been only one gunman I wouldn’t be afraid to face. The Lone Ranger. The guy never killed anybody. He was so good that he only shot the gun out of the bad guy’s hand. I don’t care if the gun was right in front of the outlaw’s chest, the bullet would go no farther than his hand.
Granted, it probably hurts to have a gun shot out of your hand. Probably like a firecracker going off just as you rear back to throw it. Happened to me once. I thought I lost my thumb. But I digress. (Speaking of which, in case you’re wondering, I’ve been requested to cut back on my article length due to, uh… they’re just too long. That has killed so much rambling that it’s scary. For me. It’s gotta be a blessing for you.)
Where was I? Oh, yeah, The Lone Ranger. I would face him. The worst of it would be a numb thumb… which happens to be a game played in Papua New Guinea. The one gunman I would least like to face would’ve been none other than Matt Dillon, a character played by the recently deceased James Arness. Who didn’t know that?
I might’ve been able to outdraw Dillon, but it wouldn’t have mattered. Even if I had gotten off a half dozen shots and hit him with two of ‘em, he would’ve killed me. The man could take a hit.
I read a recent tribute to Arness in which the writer said that Dillon was shot 30 times during his 20-year stint as Marshal of Dodge. That is so not right. It’s closer to 130. Both legs, arms, shoulders, all over his back, and an area a half-inch away from his heart bore the mark’s of multiple wounds. That guy wore more lead than a Russian Nuclear Power Plant.
What I most liked about Dillon, apart from his ability to survive massive wounds, was the fact that he didn’t mince words. Mince words? Anyway, if he thought you were a bad guy, he’d just tell you get out of town. – “Hey, you can’t do that,” the bad guy would say. – “You’ve got one hour” is what Dillon would say. He didn’t care to argue.
One thing I didn’t like about him was the way he would let people threaten him. Today, if you threaten a law officer it’s the same as an assault. An aggravated assault even. But, you could threaten Dillon all day and night. “I’m gonna kill you, Marshall. Shoot you in the back? I don’t care. I’m gonna kill you.”
Dillon did not arrest bad guys for that. He might tell ‘em to get out of town, but he wouldn’t throw ‘em in jail. That’s why he got shot in the back so many times.
A man of few words, who was incorruptible, and able to really take a shot. That was Matt Dillon. Why he never saddled up with Kitty is beyond me. Especially since the dancehall girls at the Long Branch only danced and drank. Nothing else.
Oh, the memories of “Gunsmoke.” I never met any of the original cast, but it still hurts to know that, with the passing of James Arness, the last of them is gone.
So, let’s all mosey up to the bar and lift our glasses for a toast to Milburn Stone, Dennis Weaver, Amanda Blake, and, of course, James Arness. Many have paid tribute to his acting ability. Me? I don’t really think he was all that good of an actor. Not in “Gunsmoke.” That’s because he wasn’t acting. Arness was Dillon.
Hey, The Lone Ranger wouldn’t even want to go against him. A shot to the hand with a silver bullet? Dillon wouldn’t even have noticed.
To view Mark and Brad’s latest restaurant of “Spring Creek Barbecue in The Woodlands” click on pic.