Gunsmoke and James Arness

 It’s sad when a television star who was so prominent in ones childhood passes. With the passing of James Arness, it was doubly sad for me. 

Do you ever have a particular thought that whenever it pops to mind, an associated thought, sometimes seemingly unrelated, pops to mind with it? I have one that’s always triggered by Gunsmoke. It is memories of my Grandma Harrison. 

I remember fondly when I was a kid, for many reasons, it was always a treat to get to spend the weekend at Grandma’s. In addition to having more root beer, M&Ms, and Hershey kisses than I would ever get at home, one of my favorite reasons was getting to stay up late and watch Gunsmoke with Grandma. 

So for me, the sadness of James Arness’s death was accompanied by the sadness of missing Grandma, and wondering about the answers to questions I never asked her.  

What did she know about her family heritage? Her unfeminine middle name of Bryant appears to be a surname. Where did it come from? At least one of her children has a middle name that is known to be one of our family surnames. What about a couple of her other children? Where did their surname-sounding middle names come from?  

She appears to have been conscious of and knowledgeable about her family heritage. I wonder, from a Family Forest® perspective, would she have been surprised to learn that I now have her networked through generation-by-generation family ties to the Hollywood star who she welcomed into her living room as Marshall Matt Dillon for twenty years? I wish I could tell her. 

I’ll bet she would be surprised to learn that I have also networked James Arness and his brother Peter Graves to plenty of famous cousins they share though 1600’s ancestors, including Bill Gates, Benjamin “The Signer” Franklin, George Gilder, Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., Kurt Russell (also appeared in Gunsmoke), Sigourney Weaver, Tuesday Weld, George Plimpton, President John Quincy Adams, Ransom Eli Olds, Jennifer Aniston, both Presidents Bush, Christopher Reeve, Kyra Sedgwick, Edie Sedgwick, Montgomery Clift, Louisa May Alcott, Governor Howard Dean, Emily Dickinson, Hugh Hefner, Dennis Hopper (also appeared in Gunsmoke), Warren Buffett, Howard Hawks, Viggo Mortensen, Tom Mix, Governor Mitt Romney, Tennessee Williams, First Lady Bess Truman, Frederic Remington, President Rutherford B. Hayes, President Grover Cleveland, O. Henry, William “The Signer” Williams, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Pete Seeger, George Kennedy (also appeared in Gunsmoke), Governor Mike Huckabee, Erle Stanley Gardner, Princess Diana, Oliver Platt, Brooke Shields, Meg Whitman, Chase Utley, Governor Sarah Palin, Fred Gwynne, Vice-President Charles Curtis, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Chief Justice William Renhquist, Dick Clark, Dorothy and Lillian Gish, Orville and Wilbur Wright, Frederick Law Olmstead, John Foster Dulles, Spring Byington, Clint Eastwood, Vice-President Nelson Rockefeller, Ted Waitt, Richard Gere, Arne Duncan, Vincent Price, President Gerald Ford, Lee Remick, Archibald Cox, JonBenet Ramsey, and Marilyn Monroe.  

The Family Forest® Project is, among other objectives, Networking Family History with Hollywood™.

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under Ancestry, Cousins, Family Forest National Treasure, Family Forest® Project, Genealogy, Gunsmoke, Hollywood, James Arness

2 responses to “Gunsmoke and James Arness

  1. Clay

    I was struck the same way with memories of my grandfather – it was his favorite show. He would smoke his pipe, engrossed in the tales of law enforcement in Dodge City. I read where John Wayne helped to launch the career of James Arness. Thanks for memorializing his passing in such a thoughtful way. For decades he portrayed an American hero – one who knew the difference between right and wrong – and demonstrated every week the fact that crime does not pay. It is so neat that you have the capability to tie people to the stars.

  2. Charles Harrison

    Bruce and Kristine-Thank you for the “Gunsmoke”story,and the tribute to grand-ma and th good memories of her–Dad

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