“And James Arness as Matt Dillon”

As a little girl, Saturday nights at our house was a combination of Westerns and country music. We had a black and white television as did most families back in the sixties. I can’t remember if The Grand Ole Opry came on before Gunsmoke or vice versa and it doesn’t really matter. I could never wait for Gunsmoke to come on because I had a huge crush on Matt Dillon. I was four or five -somewhere around there when the show aired. I would watch Matt mount his horse and run after the bad guy, with Festus, the deputy, by his side. I was more than sure Matt Dillon was going to ride up to my house, put me up on his horse, ride off into the sunset promising to marry me. Even at a young age, I was a romantic.

For those of you who are not familiar with James Arness as Matt Dillon, let me go back just a bit. Matt Dillon was the Marshall of Dodge City. He was tall, rugged, fair but firm, handsome and the ultimate protector. He smiled an easy dimpled smile, made a few jokes, took the law seriously and the idol of many.


He had that shabby chic, but ruggedly used cowboy hat that sat just so on his head and the suede western vest that hung on him just perfectly.

I was thinking about Matt and the long-ago crush one little girl had on him. I discovered it was not the man I had the crush on, really. Rather, it was what he stood for. All the things a girl might want and/or need in a husband.

A girl looks for a handsome man, sometimes ruggedly so. She looks for a man who is not necessarily tall in stature, but tall in her eyes. She looks for a man who will be a protector and some, dare I say it, look for someone that reminds them of their dad. Nothing wrong with that.

My husband is not at all built like James Arness, doesn’t look like him. He certainly doesn’t wear suede vests, but has been known to wear a hat on occassions. He is not as tall as James Arness, but he is the guy I was looking for in Matt Dillon. What Matt meant to me, what I saw in him way  back then are the things Stephen means to me and what I see in him everyday. Funny how that worked out!

I realize this does not apply to every girl. But, it was true for me. I found it interesting how Matt Dillon was the symbol for the kind of guy I wanted to be with and to look up to.

If you had a childhood crush on a star, I’d love to hear about it. I know I was not the only one!

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