James Arness's height served him well in the army and as an actor

As a child, Arness was teased because of his tall stature.

At 6' 7", you can safely assume that in any room James Arness walked into, he'd be the tallest one there. Being tall can certainly have its benefits, but according to James Arness's autobiography, James Arness: An Autobiography, it felt more like a curse rather than a blessing when he was younger.

Arness wrote that as a child, "I took a lot of razzing from the other students asking me how the weather was up there and other such remarks, poking fun at me. Kids are cruel, and I resented their teasing." Even worse, Arness's height disqualified him from the Naval Flight Program, where he hoped to become a flight cadet. Arness was informed by a naval officer that the height limit for aviation candidates was a mere 6' 2", which meant that Arness had no hope of joining.

Instead, Arness joined the army during World War II, where it turned out that his tall stature was incredibly useful during the Battle of Anzio. He wrote, "I was told to come up on deck and report to our squad sergeant. He handed me two fairly good-size packages, wrapped in burlap and connected with a strap. My instructions were to carry them ashore. He slung the strap around my neck so that I had a package on each side of me. 'Someone will get these from you when you hit the beach,' the sergeant said. 'What's in them?' I asked, 'Oh, just some TNT charges for blowing bridges,' he said nonchalantly."

Arness was used as a depth finder because of his tall height. After departing the landing craft, he was able to check where the water came up to on his body. If the water was too deep on Arness, his sergeant would know that the team would have to move closer to the shore.

Later in the book, Arness acknowledged that his size was actually more of an advantage than he had originally assumed, especially as an actor. He said, "In all honesty, I would have to say that my height and size contributed to the successes I've enjoyed throughout my movie and television career."

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4 Comments

Snickers 2 months ago
How would you like being told your carrying TNT charges? Not me brother!
Runeshaper 2 months ago
Sounds like he made the best of the hand he was dealt, which is what I would advise to everyone: Make the best with what you've got!
Snickers Runeshaper 2 months ago
His size came in handy when he played the "Thing" in The Thing from Another World.
GOOSEYGOOSE9 2 months ago
James arness and Peter graves brothers James arness played Matt Dillon then
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