Picking a fight with James Arness in “Gunsmoke” really paid off.
As an actor, you never know when you’re going to hit it big. You could jump from one appearance to the next until one day, completely unexpectedly, one of those appearances turns out to be life-changing. That was certainly the case for actor John Anderson in “Gunsmoke.”
Anderson landed a role in the 1958 episode of “Gunsmoke” titled “Buffalo Man.” Anderson played a vicious bully named Ben Siple. Siple was known for never losing a fight and always picking one. During the episode, Siple picks a fight with Marshall Matt Dillon (played by James Arness) by physically threatening the woman Dillon is tasked with protecting. The two brawl and it’s nothing short of iconic.
This Fight Scene From ‘Gunsmoke’ Defined John Anderson’s Career
If you’re a true “Gunsmoke” fan then you will certainly remember this fight scene from the show. To this day, film schools often use this scene for students’ first editing projects. From the moment it aired, this scene blew away audiences and editors alike. Before filming the episode, Anderson appeared in a few shows but hadn’t yet made a name for himself. However, after this fight scene, he soared to fame. During an interview, Anderson talked about his life-changing role on “Gunsmoke.”
The show was a big hit and the role I was playing was a very showy villain with heavy make-up, just a crazy man,” said Anderson. “It really opened doors. I just ran from one show to another.”
Anderson Landed Roles in Some of the Most Iconic Shows and Movies After Fighting With James Arness
After his famous fight scene on “Gunsmoke,” Anderson landed roles on “The Twilight Zone,” “Star Trek,” “Bonanza,” “Perry Mason,” “The Rifleman” and “M*A*S*H,” just to name a few. Additionally, he found roles in several westerns. He even played “California Charlie” in the iconic Alfred Hitchcock movie, “Psycho.”
Anderson also became a regular character on “Gunsmoke.” The show welcomed him back 11 more times after the “Buffalo Man” episode. He also appeared on “The Rifleman” almost the same amount of times. Throughout his career, Anderson played all types of roles. However, during the same interview, he said that there was one thing that all the roles had in common. He always chose characters where no one knew what to expect from him one moment to the next.
“I did the craziest, nuttiest guys in the world and I had a ball doing it,” Anderson said