Piece by piece, My kidhood is falling away, and I don’t like it one bit. Last year Davy Crockett died (Fess Parker). He was huge and good, and I knew him in Santa Barbara. Then in March it was Robert Culp. I loved watching I Spy. Loved it even more for the fact that it brokeHollywood’s color barrier by co-starring Bill Cosby. What a team those two were! And now I have to say good-by to Matt Dillon, marshal of Dodge City. James Arness.
Jim was also huge—6 feet, 6 inches. Whenever he ambled through Santa Barbara, everyone liked him because he acted like a regular person, not a self-important star. I’ll always remember the time I saw him shopping at Safeway. Just walking down the aisle with his shopping cart, looking for something for dinner like everyone else, only he stood head and shoulders taller. Everyone left him alone, which is something I like about Santa Barbara. No one asked him about Gunsmoke or Miss Kitty or would he sign an autograph. Well, one person did ask, “Know where I can find the bologna?” but that’s all.
I wish our current politicians would kick back at the end of the day and watch some episodes of Gunsmoke. They might learn that being bad or greedy, and trying to control the world, will get them nowhere. They would see what happens to bullies and arrogant people who think they are above the law. If they knew Marshal Matt Dillon was hot on their trail, they just might rethink their under-the-table-lobbying ways.
I wish they could have seen Jim Arness pushing his shopping cart down the aisles at Safeway, and heard him say, “Excuse me, Ma’am,” when he got to the corner the same time as the lady with three screaming kids. They should have seen him patiently waiting his turn in line, even though he towered over everyone and was famous. Might set theWashington folks to thinking about how rules should apply to everyone, the rich and powerful every bit as much as the everyday what’s-their-names.
“I’ve seen a lot of men buried up here on Boot Hill, and most of them really earned what they got… They lived and died as though they’d never heard of the law.”
Matt Dillon, Gunsmoke (1958)