Thursday, June 4, 2009

Remembering Dennis Weaver

Dennis Weaver was born on June 4, 1924 in Joplin, Missouri. He grew up on a farm and was an outstanding athlete on the University of Oklahoma track team. He tried out for the U.S. Olympic decathlon team in 1948 and placed 6th. The eventual winner that year was track legend Bob Mathias.

A struggling actor for years he got his first break from actress Shelley Winters who helped get a role in the stage play “Come Back, Little Sheba”. His first film role was as a cowboy in “Horizons West” (1952).

In 1955 he tried out for a part of the deputy on TV’s “Gunsmoke” and added the limp and twangy accent to offset being cast against the towering actor James Arness who was cast as Matt Dillon. He would play deputy Chester Good for the next 9 years and won an Emmy. Weaver left the show in 1964 to star in the ill-fated series “Kentucky Jones”. This didn’t keep him down for long as he would star in several series among them “Gentle Ben” and the long running “McCloud” from 1970-1977. During this time he starred in the cult classic Steven Spielberg film “Duel” (1971). Weaver was president of the Screen Actors Guild from 1973-1975 and was inducted into the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in 1981. He later received attention for the construction of his environmentally friendly homes made of recycled materials in Santa Fe, NM and Colorado. Dennis Weaver was survived by his wife of 60 years Gerry Stowell Weaver and three sons.

Dennis Weaver appeared in the Euro-western “A Man Called Sledge” with many of his friends and fellow former Warner Brother actors. Today we remember him on what would have been his 85th Birthday.

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