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Date Posted: 21:42:17 10/30/17 Mon
Author: Tim
Subject: Ben Bates

Stuntman and actor Ben Bates died on October 4, 2017 at age 84. Though not involved with Bonanza, Bates was a stunt double for James Arness during the final seasons of Gunsmoke and in the Gunsmoke reunion movies from 1987 to 1994.

From the MeTV website:

R.I.P Ben Bates, James Arness Longtime Stuntman and Former Marlboro Man

http://www.metv.com/stories/rip-ben-bates-james-arness-longtime-stuntman-and-former-marlboro-man

by MeTV Staff
October 24, 2017

Texas native Ben Bates was performing in the Chicago Rodeo in 1967 when he was spotted by an ad man. The cowboy was plucked from the horse circuit and made the new Marlboro Man. Throughout the late Sixties, Bates appeared in print and television ads as the rugged smoker. In 1970, he received an ANDY Award, an industry trophy given out by the the Advertising Club of New York, for playing the iconic Marlboro Man.

Two years later, he landed a gig that required even more of his natural cowboy skills. Bates became the stunt double for James Arness on Gunsmoke. For the final four seasons of the long-running Western, Bates performed the more dangerous Marshal Matt Dillon stunts. In the final season, he had a brief cameo in "The Fourth Victim." In the episode's final scene, two Matt Dillon doppelgangers appear at a standoff to confuse a gunman. One of them is Bates. After the villain is shot, Festus thanks the Matt Dillon lookalike, referring to him by name. "Ben… you done 'er just right," the deputy declares.

Bates continued to double Arness for a quarter century, in Gunsmoke reunion films.

In the 2001 book James Arness: An Autobiography, Bates recalled how Arness gifted him Matt Dillon's .45 pistol after Gunsmoke ended. "You mean more to me than putting this into a museum somewhere," Arness told him. "You can imagine how that made me feel," Bates said.

Earlier this month, on October 4, Bates passed away at the age of 84, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter.

In his later years, Bates continued to proudly represent Gunsmoke. He was recently on hand at the unveiling of the Matt Dillon statue in Dodge City, Kansas. Last year, Janet Arness, the actor's widow, presented him with a Silver Spur Award.

In addition to his Gunsmoke work, Bates also appeared in the original 1982 Swamp Thing film, directed by Wes Craven. To portray the evil creature that fights Swamp Thing, Bates wore a heavy costume during filming, which caused him to faint from heat exhaustion.

The life of a stunt man was not always glamorous, but it took true grit.

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Replies:

[> Re: Ben Bates -- Trish, 14:29:38 10/31/17 Tue [1]

Great information... Thanks!

Rest in Peace Ben Bates.

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[> Re: Ben Bates -- SWC, 18:18:20 11/01/17 Wed [1]

Arness was wounded at Anzio during WWII in the elg and it always bothered him and got worse as he aged. Late in tehs how he needed a stunt man to mount and dismount from horses. I guess that would have been Bates, who can be seen in Arness costume from the color episodes in the elft photo in the article.

Dennis Weaver on the other had had been a decathlete who finished third in the 1948 Olympic trials behind Bob Mathias. Yet he was playing the guy with the limp!

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