Buck Taylor named his son after Marshal Matt Dillon
"I just look at him and he's Matt Dillon."
There are characters that we know and love, and then there are characters that we aspire to be. Marshal Matt Dillon is an example of a character where part of viewers' attachment to him is the desire to become like him. He's an idol, the sort of person that we should all try our best to emulate.
This was an opinion not just shared by Gunsmoke's viewers, but also by cast members as well. Actor Buck Taylor, known for his role as Newly O'Brian, spoke of his relationship with James Arness, better known as Marshal Matt Dillon, in Arness's autobiography, James Arness: An Autobiography. He stated, "After all of these years I'm still in awe of the guy. He was always a gentleman around the ladies and very manly around men." Taylor continued, "I just look at him and he's Matt Dillon and I and thousands of fans will always see him in that light."
Taylor also revealed a specific way he chose to honor Matt Dillon, not just in writing. He actually named one of his sons after the character. He wrote, "I named my middle son Matt, Matthew, who is a stuntman right now. I named him after Jim (James) Arness, that's for sure, and Matt Dillon."
Taylor wrote about how he learned from Arness, both personally and professionally. He commented, "I learned many things from Jim (James) which stood me in good stead after I left Gunsmoke and began to perform in later Western movies." He added, "I also picked up a number of acting tips from him 'cause he was a master at what he did. He got better and better as the show went along and by the time I joined the cast he had his character down cold."
However, Taylor also discussed talking to Arness after he tragically lost his son, Adam Taylor. He emphasized, "I found great warmth in Jim's (James) consoling words." This indicates that not only was Arness a guide to Taylor as an actor, but he was also a friend and a source of comfort.
Taylor continued to state that he and Arness remained in touch even after the series had concluded, "and of course, we always talk about Gunsmoke."