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EXCLUSIVE DETAILS: 'Gunsmoke' Actor James Arness Dead At 88

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Jun. 3 2011, Published 12:45 p.m. ET

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By Amber Goodhand

RadarOnline.com Staff Reporter

Gunsmoke actor James Arness passed away on Friday at the age of 88.

“Jim passed away this morning at home with his wife of natural causes. He went quietly in his sleep,” Arness’ rep, Ginny Fazer told RadarOnline.com in an exclusive interview.

“He is survived by his wife Janet, two sons and six grandchildren.”

The 6’6” actor was best known for his role of Marshal Matt Dillon in the weekly series Gunsmoke, which he played for 20 years.

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“He was retired and very much enjoying the time with his family. He was a very devoted family man,” Fazer said.

“The funeral will be private, family only. And they have asked that in lieu of flowers or anything else, donations be made in Jim’s name to their favorite charity, United Cerebral Palsy.”

Eerily, Arness left a farewell letter on his official website for his fans in case he were to pass away.

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“I had a wonderful life and was blessed with some many loving people and great friends. The best part of my life was my family, especially my wife Janet,” Arness wrote.

“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.

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