Portrayed the role of Marshall Dillon on TV's Gunsmoke for twenty years, a role that John Wayne declined and recommended for Arness according to urban legend.
He spent time as a courier for a jewelry wholesaler while attending high school.
He was featured on the television show, Gunsmoke.
He married first wife Virginia Chapman in 1948. The couple divorced in 1960. He had two sons and daughter. His younger brother, Peter Graves, was also an actor.
He was a close friend of actor John Wayne.