February 16, 2019 12:25 pm
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James Arness signature western hat and boots from Gunsmoke

(CBS-TV, 1955-75) 3X beaver Stetson hat stamped in gold on the inside hatband, “Made by Stetson especially for James Arness”, together with a pair of brown leather western boots (approx. size 10 or 11 U.S.), worn by James Arness in his role as “Marshal Dillon” in the classic television series. The hat and boots were originally acquired by Arness’ stuntdouble, John Kelly, in the 1970s. One of the “Warner Bros. Cowboys”, Kelly had worked as a stand-in and stunt man on such westerns as Rio Bravo and The Shootist with John Wayne, and numerous television westerns including The Lawman with John Russell and Daniel Boone with Fess Parker. During the mid-1970s, he was hired as a stunt-double and stand-in for James Arness on the set of Gunsmoke. It was after a long day of shooting on the final day, and after most of the production personnel and cast had left for the day, that Kelly returned to the wardrobe department to change back into his street clothes (he was then in James Arness’ western garb). However, the wardrobe supervisor had already left and the trailer was locked. Discovering his predicament, the assistant director remarked, “That hat looks good on you, why don’t you keep it?!”, and suggested that he keep both the hat and the boots, and that the studio would retain Kelly’s personal hat for use by the wardrobe department. Truly an iconic piece of studio wardrobe, the hat and boots are a stirring memento of one of TV’s greatest lawmen, James Arness, and an important piece of television history. The brim has been trimmed and the hat re-blocked; the boots exhibit light wear. Both remain in very fine condition overall. Accompanied with a signed letter of provenance from Kelly. Estimate $2,000 – $3,000

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