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Dennis Weaver

Dennis WeaverAKA William Dennis Weaver

Born: 4-Jun-1924
Birthplace: Joplin, MO
Died: 24-Feb-2006
Location of death: Ridgeway, CO
Cause of death: Cancer - unspecified
Remains: Cremated, ashes in his family's possession

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Actor
Party Affiliation: Democratic

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Sam McCloud in McCloud

Military service: US Navy

Dennis Weaver grew up on a Missouri farm, and was an outstanding athlete on his college track and field team. He competed in the decathlon and came close to making the US Olympic team in 1948. A struggling actor for many years, he eventually became a familiar character actor in films, mostly low-budget westerns, and played Marshal Dillon's friend and deputy Chester Goode for the first nine years of TV's Gunsmoke. Weaver gave his Gunsmoke character a limp and a twangy accent, and said later that he added these endearing embellishments to prevent his performance from being overshadowed by the towering James Arness, who played Dillon. Being a TV sidekick was not a lucrative job in the 1950s, so between seasons Weaver augmented his income by touring in a singing trio with his castmates Milburn Stone and Amanda Blake.

After leaving Gunsmoke, Weaver starred as the friendly veterinarian Kentucky Jones, as the paternal Everglades ranger with a bear on his hands in Gentle Ben, and as the New Mexico deputy marshal on loan to the New York Police in McCloud. In films, Weaver played the nervous manager of the Mirador Motel in Orson Welles' classic Touch of Evil. He also played a police captain in Jack Webb's original theatrical film of Dragnet, then played five different characters in five episodes of the subsequent series.

During a 1971 break from McCloud, Weaver was offered the lead in a television movie, playing a lonely traveling salesman chased and taunted on the highway by a crazed trucker. As the star, he was given veto power over the network's selection of a rookie director, but he agreed that the energetic young Steven Spielberg deserved a chance. The film, Duel, was released theatrically overseas, launched Spielberg's career, and is still considered one of the best films ever made for commercial television.

Solidly liberal, he and Valerie Harper were co-founders of LIFE (Love is Feeding Everyone), a charity which now helps fund more than 100,000 meals weekly to the homeless and hungry in Los Angeles. A devoted environmentalist, Weaver spoke out against America's addiction to fossil fuels, and lived in a solar-powered home constructed from about 3,000 recycled auto tires and 300,000 tin and aluminum cans. He advocated "creating prosperity without pollution", and recycled almost everything he used. He founded The Institute of Ecolonomics (a word Weaver coined, combining "ecology" and "economics").

Weaver died in his home of complications from cancer in 2006, at the age of 81.

Father: Walter Weaver (d. Oct-1974)
Mother: Lenna Prather (d. 3-Mar-1992)
Wife: Gerry Stowell (m. 20-Oct-1945)
Son: Rick Weaver (TV producer, b. 1949)
Son: Robby Weaver (actor, b. 8-Apr-1953)
Son: Rusty Weaver (musician, The Rockodiles, b. 1959)

    University: Joplin Junior College, Joplin, MO (now Missouri Southern State University)
    University: BFA, University of Oklahoma (1948)

    Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee
    Screen Actors Guild President (1973-75)
    Emmy 1959 for Gunsmoke
    National Cowboy Hall of Fame 1981
    Hollywood Walk of Fame 1986
    Risk Factors: Vegetarian

    Lonesome Dove: The Series Buffalo Bill Cody (1994-95)
    Emerald Point N.A.S. Rear Admiral Thomas Mallory (1983-84)
    McCloud Sam McCloud (1970-77)
    Gentle Ben Tom Wedloe (1967-69)
    Gunsmoke Deputy Chester Goode (1955-64)

    Home on the Range (21-Mar-2004) [VOICE]
    Submerged (24-Oct-2000)
    High Noon (20-Aug-2000)
    The Virginian (9-Jan-2000)
    Escape from Wildcat Canyon (21-Jun-1998)
    Stolen Women, Captured Hearts (16-Mar-1997)
    Two Bits and Pepper (1995)
    Mastergate (1-Nov-1992)
    A Winner Never Quits (14-Apr-1986)
    Cocaine: One Man's Seduction (27-Feb-1983) · Eddie Gant
    Don't Go to Sleep (10-Dec-1982)
    The Day the Loving Stopped (16-Oct-1981)
    The Ordeal of Dr. Mudd (25-Mar-1980)
    Centennial (1-Oct-1978)
    Intimate Strangers (11-Nov-1977) · Donald Halston
    Duel (10-Nov-1971) · David Mann
    What's the Matter with Helen? (30-Jun-1971) · Linc Palmer
    A Man Called Sledge (30-Oct-1970) · Erwin Ward
    Mission Batangas (Nov-1968)
    Gentle Giant (25-Oct-1967) · Tom Wedloe
    Way... Way Out (26-Oct-1966)
    Duel at Diablo (15-Jun-1966) · Willard Grange
    The Gallant Hours (13-Jun-1960) · Lt. Cmdr. Andy Lowe
    Touch of Evil (21-May-1958) · Motel Clerk
    Storm Fear (16-Dec-1955) · Hank
    Chief Crazy Horse (Apr-1955) · Maj. Carlisle
    Seven Angry Men (27-Mar-1955) · John Brown, Jr.
    Ten Wanted Men (1-Feb-1955)
    Dragnet (20-Aug-1954)
    Dangerous Mission (6-Mar-1954) · Pruitt
    Column South (20-May-1953) · Menguito
    Law and Order (May-1953)
    The Lawless Breed (3-Jan-1953) · Jim Clements
    The Redhead from Wyoming (2-Jan-1953) · Matt Jessup
    War Arrow (1953) · Pino
    Horizons West (11-Oct-1952)

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