From Robert Lloyd LA Times
In his size -- he was 6-foot-7 -- and his centeredness, James Arness suggested John Wayne, to whose production company he was under contract before he became the star of “Gunsmoke.” For 20 years, from 1955 to 1975, Arness, who died Friday at the age of 88, played Marshal Matt Dillon in what, along with “Law & Order,” is the longest-lived drama on American television. There was also in Arness something of the other tall men of the range, actors like James Stewart and Randolph Scott and Joel McCrea; and if he lacked their foregrounded complexity, their implicit darkness and latent violence -- there was a lot of “noir” in the postwar Western -- these were not things his role demanded, or which, indeed, could have reasonably sustained a character over two decades. Matt Dillon was not battling inner demons, making amends for past wrongs, or out to revenge wrongs done to him; indeed, he was for all intents and purposes a man without a past.
Full aticle http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/showtracker/2011/06/appreciation-james-arness-1923-2011.html