Carol Burnett Once Said She Had ‘The Hots’ for Legendary ‘Gunsmoke’ Actor

by Joe Rutland
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Sometimes it takes the humor of comedian Carol Burnett to actually bring more, um, “fire” to the life of Gunsmoke star James Arness.

Not sure what we are talking about, Outsiders? OK.

We’re going to get some help from an article by MeTV right now.

A ceremony was held back in 1973 for Arness, who played Marshal Matt Dillon on the CBS Western drama. He was named International Broadcasting Award’s “Man of the Year” and was picking it up at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles.

This was a big deal. See, a thousand people found seats packed into the audience.

This was also a rare time for the tall TV cowboy to show up in the real world.

Where does Burnett come into the picture? She was the host of this event.

Burnett, in her comedic tendencies, joked about how hard it was to get close to Arness. Oh, she also publicly that she had a crush on the Gunsmoke star.

“I’m thrilled to be giving this wonderful award to this wonderful man,” Burnett told the crowd. “I don’t know this man, but I’ve had the hots for him for years.”

She already was a well-known person herself as The Carol Burnett Show had quite a following on CBS. Her variety show ran from 1967-78 with longtime cast members Vicki Lawrence, Lyle Waggoner, Harvey Korman, and Tim Conway.

‘Gunsmoke’ Leading Actor Gifted A $2 Million Ranch to Neighborhood Kids

Talk about charity and giving back to society.

This is what Arness did in a particularly wonderful, big way.

The Gunsmoke leading actor once gifted a $2 million ranch to neighborhood kids. Why did he do this?

Well, he did it because he could but that’s too simplistic.

This was 1,400 acres of land in Simi Valley, Calif. It happened to be Arness’ former ranch and it is now owned by the Brandeis-Bardin Institute. The work that they did with local Jewish youth motivated Arness to donate the property.

Now, the Gunsmoke star did use the ranch a lot. He kept the horses that his kids delighted in riding. His kids grew up, though, and the ranch needed some more care.

Arness watched the neighboring property, which was a youth retreat for Jewish kids from the area. And Arnress just figured that the ranch would be of better service in the institute’s hands.

“He spent a lot of time there and became aware of the impressive work done by the camp,” Arness’ lawyer said.

He simply liked what they were doing for kids.

“It was a very ecumenical act of philanthropy by Mr. Arness, who is not himself Jewish,” the president of the institute told The Orlando Sentinel in the early 1970s.

Outsider.com