Late actor James Arness was a father to three children.

Arness, renowned for portraying U.S. Marshal Matt Dillon for 20 years in the CBS television series Gunsmoke, first adopted his first wife, Virginia Chapman's son, Craig.

He later had two biological children with Chapman — daughter Jenny Lee and son Rolf.

In this article, we will cover his age of death, height, children & ex-wife's death, siblings, brother, & net worth in detail. 

Read the full article. 

How did James Arness Die?

At the age of 88 on 3 June 2011, James Arness died of natural causes (during his sleep) at his Brentwood home in Los Angeles. He was survived by his wife (Janet), two sons, Rolf and Jimmy, and six grandchildren. 

He had written a letter prior to his death that he wanted to be posted posthumously. The letter displayed on his website reads,

I wanted to take this time to thank all of you for the many years of being a fan of Gunsmoke, The Thing, How the West Was Won and all the other fun projects I was lucky enough to have been allowed to be a part of. I had the privilege of working with so many great actors over the years.

He was born on 26 May 1923 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, US. He had lost his older brother Peter Graves to death on 14 March 2010.

Garves was best known for his role as Jim Phelps, the director of the Impossible Missions Force, in the CBS television series Mission: Impossible and its subsequent revival.

How tall was James Arness?

The Minneapolis native's height was 6 feet and 7 inches (2.01 m). 

Although his tall height was widely appreciated by his on-screen audience later, the distinctive feature barred him from fulfilling his early ambitions of being a naval fighter. 

The limit for the fighters was set at 6 feet and 2 inches. 

Later, he was drafted into the US Army in  March 1943 after which he was posted to Forst Snelling.

In 1944, Arness was severely injured after taking part in the Battle of  Anzio during World War II as a rifleman.

In fact, he was the first one to drop from his ship after being ordered to aid his battalion to determine the depth of the water—it reached to his waist.

James Arness's Two Children Passed Away Early

Sadly, two of his three kids passed away early, even before his death in June 2011.

An old picture of James Arness.

A picture of James Arness from the show Gunsmoke. (Photo: Instagram)

The actor's daughter, Jenny Lee, born on May 23, 1950, was the first child to leave the family. 

She reportedly took her own life with a sleeping pill overdose in May 1975.

Years later, Arness lost his second child. His adopted son, Craig, died at the age of 58 in December 2004. He reportedly had been undergoing treatment for lung and anemia complications.

Craig had established himself as a magazine photographer.

His first assignment was for National Geographic in 1976. He subsequently spent the next ten years of his life traveling around the world and writing seven National Geographic stories and books.

His work was even recognized with Best Photograph and Best Photo of the Year title in the Magazine Pictorial Division of the National Press Photographers Association.

In addition, he was married to his wife, Daphne, and had two children, Holly and Brian.

At present, Arness's only surviving child is his son Rolf, who became a world surfing champion in 1970. He had started surfing from a young age with the support of his father.

He now lives a private life in Los Angeles and regularly volunteers at a Santa Monica mental health clinic.

James Arness's Wife Died of a Drug Overdose

Like his daughter, Arness's first wife, Chapman, died of a drug overdose in 1977, two years after the couple's daughter passed away.

According to the coroner's office, she was found dead in her beach home. She was 56 years old at the time of her death. 

James Arness and his wife Virginia Chapman in 1956.

Arness and his wife Virginia Chapman in 1956. (Photo: Twitter)

Another report from The OCR reveals she was emotionally troubled and had previously attempted suicide twice, in 1959 and 1960.

Following those events, Arness divorced her in 1963, ending their marriage of 15 years. They tied the knot in 1948. 

After the separation, Arness got legal custody of their children. And he lived a private family life with them.

"The kids don't really have any part of my television life," he remarked after the divorce. "Fortunately, there aren't many times when show business intrudes on our family existence."

James Arness Had Two Dating Relationships Afterward

Arness later found love in Thordis Brand. He met her four years after his divorce from Chapman and dated her for six years.

However, they didn't get married or have children from their relationship.

But the Gunsmoke star married the next woman he met after his split from Brand. His second wife, who was married to him until he passed away, was Janet Surtees.

What was James Arness' Net Worth?

Arness' estimated net worth was $8 million, according to Celebritynetworth. 

Almost the majority of his net worth came from his acting in Gunsmoke.