Did James Arness Star in the Movie the Thing?

If you’re a fan of classic Hollywood, you may have heard of the legendary actor James Arness. He’s best known for his role as Marshal Matt Dillon in the long-running TV series “Gunsmoke,” which aired from 1955 to 1975.

However, some fans have also wondered if Arness appeared in the iconic sci-fi horror film “The Thing.” Let’s explore this question and uncover the truth.

First, it’s essential to establish what version of “The Thing” we’re talking about. The original film was released in 1951 and starred Kenneth Tobey and Margaret Sheridan. However, there was also a remake that came out in 1982, directed by John Carpenter and starring Kurt Russell.

Now, let’s focus on the remake. In this version of “The Thing,” James Arness did not appear on screen. The lead role went to Kurt Russell, who played R.J. MacReady, a helicopter pilot who battles an extraterrestrial life form that can imitate other organisms perfectly.

However, Arness did have a connection to the movie. In the 1950s version of “The Thing,” he played the character of The Thing itself!

This film was also based on a novella called “Who Goes There?” by John W. Campbell Jr., but it had a different plot and tone than Carpenter’s adaptation.

In the 1951 movie, Arness portrayed an alien creature that crash-lands on Earth and begins to terrorize a group of scientists stationed at an Arctic research facility. His appearance in this film is notable because he was heavily made up with prosthetics and makeup to look like a towering monster with tentacles and three eyes.

Despite being unrecognizable under all that makeup, Arness’s performance as The Thing was memorable enough to launch his career as an actor. Afterward, he went on to star in several Western films before landing the role of Marshall Matt Dillon on “Gunsmoke.”

In conclusion, James Arness did not appear in the 1982 version of “The Thing,” but he did star as The Thing in the 1951 film of the same name. His performance in that movie helped him gain recognition in Hollywood and paved the way for his future success as an actor. If you’re a fan of classic sci-fi or horror movies, both versions of “The Thing” are worth checking out to see Arness’s early work on screen.


  • https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000785/
  • https://www.com/title/tt0084787/
  • https://www.com/title/tt0044121/