It was once reported that Gunsmoke's James Arness offered a publicity agent money not to generate publicity for him

Arness wasn't interested in the fame that came with being a celebrity.

CBS Television Distribution

It might seem ironic for a star to hate the spotlight, but for James Arness, it was just one of his many contradictions. Standing at over six feet tall, one might assume that Arness would use size to his advantage and be an intimidating sort of person. However, those who knew Arness well described him as kind, gentle, and soft-spoken. More than that, Arness was a notoriously private person, much to the ire of the press looking for juicy nuggets of gossip regarding the Gunsmoke actor's private life.

According to an article with The Ithaca Journal, Arness reportedly told a publicist that he'd be willing to offer the agent a $20,000 salary a year if the man could guarantee Arness would get no publicity.

It's a seemingly strange request, but not for Arness, who seemed to have little desire to appear in a television series like Gunsmoke. "I wondered if people might not get sick of the sight of me," he said to the Washington Post. Luckily, Arness was talked into accepting the role by friend and colleague, John Wayne.

Once he was awarded the role of Marshall Matt Dillon of Gunsmoke, those who worked with him had nothing but glowing things to say about their costar. According to John Mantley, who served as executive producer of Gunsmoke, Arness was a delight to have around set, not because of how powerful he was, but because of the way he chose to wield that power.

"Jim's got as much power as anyone in the industry," Mantley said to the Associated Press. "He's a multimillionaire. But he's never raised his voice on the set, chewed anybody out, or walked off. On the two occasions he was late to work he came by my office to apologize."

So while some stars adore the limelight, some, like Arness, didn't need all the glitz and glamor, and were simply interested in, you know, acting.

Watch Gunsmoke on MeTV!

Monday - Saturday at 1 PM & 1:30 PM

*available in most MeTV markets
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?
Close

3 Comments

harlow1313 1 month ago
The notion of fame is interesting to think about. Most humans, like me, love attention, which makes us feel special.

So we can ponder the balance between fame and privacy. Which one do we, as individuals, value most?
Not me. The older I get the more I value privacy. 🤷‍♀️
McGillahooala 1 month ago
Great man and great actor. If I were an actor, I would hate the attention and lack of privacy. It is good to see that some of our favorites are like us in ways.
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?