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Arness did not create a bland character; he was an artist

June 11, 2011

No other Hollywood death has touched me like the death of James Arness (1923-2011). I suppose every Gunsmoke fan has a favorite episode about Marshal Matt Dillon. Arness saw to it that not every episode centered on Dillon; one I recently watched and researched did. It is one of my favorites because it was my mother’s favorite. Almost every time Gunsmoke was mentioned, my mother would recall Matt and a young woman surviving a prairie fire, one that she had not seen since its first run on CBS in 1961. Sarah Drew, played by Barbara Lord, falls in love with Matt.
Not letting the character become bland and the audience become tired during the show’s 20 year run is an art; Arness was a true artist.
1. James King Aurness was his
A. birth name.
B. nom de guerre (nohm-di-GER).
C. stage name.
D. character’s name in his first movie.
2. What was the first movie Arness was in?
A. The Thing
B. The Farmer’s Daughter
C. Hondo
D. Island in the Sky
3. In the first TV episode of Gunsmoke, Dillon gets
A. married.
B. sick.
C. shot.
D. kissed.
E. incarcerated.
I included “TV episode” in the question because Gunsmoke was on radio for years.  C is the answer for No.
3. No. 2 is B. No. 1 is A.
4. Which two words do not describe the style of Gunsmoke’s writers?
A. fustian (FUHS-chun)
B. jejune (ji-JUNE) 
C. dramatic
D. creative
Fustian is inflated or turgid language in writing or speaking.  Jejune means devoid of significance or interest.  (A and B).
5. Which one describes Arness’s voice?
A. aphonic 
B. strident
C. resonant
D. epicene 
Gunsmoke fans may not know that when Arness was a teen, he was a radio announcer for WLOL in his hometown of Minneapolis. Arness was not in the radio series of Gunsmoke. William Conrad was the voice of Marshal Dillion, and Howard McNear, who later played Floyd the barber on The Andy Griffith Show, was the voice of Doc Adams.
Last week’s mystery word is aestivate. 
This week’s mystery word to solve is an adjective that has “pig” in it and means attracting the opposite sex.    

Contact Don Vaughan Ph.D. at 

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