It is hard to believe that Gunsmoke stars Milburn Stone and James Arness even got into a fight. But, apparently, it did happen.
What caused them to get into a fight after all? We are going to check that out with some help from GunsmokeNet.com.
This fight they had started with Stone having some serious issues with his Gunsmoke star not taking his work seriously. Well, that’s the way a veteran actor like Stone saw things.
‘Gunsmoke’ Actor Admits That He Hated Arness During His First Three Seasons
“I spent the first three years hating Jim (Arness),” Stone said of his lead actor who played Marshal Matt Dillon. “I couldn’t stand him professionally or his attitude.”
“He’d be late or wouldn’t show up – never apologize,” he said. “And once he was there he’d clown around.”
But the Doc Adams actor just reached his boiling point and let Arness have it during rehearsal.
“I told him we were diametrically opposed and I felt he did not belong in the business at all,” the Gunsmoke actor said. “I said, ‘I’ve read my contract and there’s nothing in it that says I have to put diapers on you or wait for you.'”
Stone Gave Arness Piece of His Mind But Prepared For Possible Retaliation
“‘And if you ever show up late again, buddy, you’ll have two things to explain-not only where you were, but where I went!'” Stone said. Well, in this interview, Stone admitted that he would not have blamed Arness, who stood 6-feet, 4-inches, if he’d grabbed the Doc actor and gave him a big toss through the ceiling.
“When I was through, he looked me right in the eye and said, ‘You’re absolutely right,'” Stone said while slapping his knee. “From that moment on, I begun to love that guy. He’s a great big wonderful cub bear.”
Gunsmoke ran for 20 seasons on CBS. The show holds the record for longest-running Western drama on television. What’s funny about the tiff between Stone and Arness is that they were on the show for all 20 seasons. They were the only regular cast members on the show that could say that after the show ended in 1975.
Arness was protective of his starring character. Amanda Blake, who played Miss Kitty on the iconic show, talked about it in an interview.
“After about the first five years, Jim got very protective about Matt Dillon’s image,” Blake said in an interview in TV Guide from 1979. “He didn’t want Matt to make a mistake. It certainly didn’t hurt the show, but I remember thinking sometimes, why doesn’t he ever allow himself to be on the other end of the pole? Why not let Matt be wrong once? Might’ve been interesting.”