‘Gunsmoke’: ‘Matt Dillon’ Actor James Arness’ Brother Was Also a Famous Actor

by Joe Rutland
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Could two brothers have hit TV shows at the same time? It happened with “Gunsmoke” star James Arness and his brother, Peter Graves.

Arness’ name is forever tied to playing Marshal Matt Dillon on the long-running CBS western series. Graves, who went by a different last name as an actor, portrayed Jim Phelps in CBS’ intrepid spy show “Mission: Impossible.”

Graves is Arness’ younger brother. Of course, movie fans will recognize him from playing Capt. Clarence Oveur in the “Airplane!” films, according to an article from ME.tv.

Arness’ Brother Peter Graves Known For TV, Film Roles

Now Graves played Phelps in the original “Mission: Impossible” run on CBS from 1967-73 as well as in a 1988-90 revival of the show. Yet there probably are more people who simply remember him in his “Airplane!” role.

He had a robust TV and film career. Graves appeared in other TV shows like “The Virginian,” “Daniel Boone,” “Murder, She Wrote,” and “7th Heaven.” Film work includes “Stalag 17,” “Addams Family Values,” and “Men In Black II.”

“Gunsmoke” had a 20-year run on CBS, consistently performing in the Top 20 if not higher for the network. “Mission: Impossible” held its own throughout the CBS run, too, before being canceled.

‘Gunsmoke’ Plays Role in ‘Gilligan’s Island’ Cancellation

Now for something a little completely different. Did you know “Gunsmoke” had a hand in sending seven stranded castaways off to cancellation land?

“Gilligan’s Island” found itself on CBS’ schedule cutting-room floor in 1967. For three seasons, “Gilligan’s Island” was popular among viewers. It was among the top 25 shows in its first two seasons. Season Three saw the show fall to 47th in ratings yet still held viewers’ attention.

According to Looper, CBS faced a decision: which show to keep? “Gunsmoke” or “Gilligan’s Island”?

Marshal Matt Dillon and the show got the go-ahead. But the network had canceled the popular western after 12 seasons on the air. The public got a whiff of this news and everyone was hell-bent on not having it happen. The U.S. government, Kansas Legislature, and Dodge City (Kan.) Commission was involved in keeping the show. Alan Hale Jr., who played “Skipper” on “Gilligan’s Island,” supported renewing “Gunsmoke” too.

The final decision, though, came from the wife of CBS Chairman William Paley. She loved “Gunsmoke” so much that she convinced him not to cancel the show. Therefore, “Gunsmoke” found a home on Monday night.

Outsider.com