Dennis Weaver

Dennis Weaver
Giulio Marcocchi / Getty Images

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Dennis Weaver
TV: South side of the 6900 block of Hollywood Boulevard
Actor
Born June 4, 1924 in Joplin, MO
Died Feb. 24, 2006 of cancer in Ridgway, CO

Dennis Weaver, a lanky actor with the gentle drawl, came to fame in the 1950s playing Marshal Matt Dillon's limping deputy, Chester, on "Gunsmoke" and later starred as a contemporary western deputy marshal who battled crime in the Big Apple on "McCloud."

In a more than 50-year acting career that spanned stage, films and television, Weaver had supporting roles in films such as Orson Welles' 1958 film noir thriller "Touch of Evil."

He also starred in dozens of TV movies, most notably Steven Spielberg's acclaimed 1971 psychological thriller "Duel," in which Weaver memorably played a motorist menaced by the unseen driver of a large diesel truck.

For fans of old TV westerns, Weaver is best remembered for his Emmy Award-winning role as Chester Goode, the loyal deputy with the bum leg opposite James Arness' larger-than-life Matt Dillon, whom Chester in his countrified drawl called "Mister Dillon."

The landmark western-drama for adults, featuring Amanda Blake as Kitty and Milburn Stone as Doc, debuted on CBS in the fall 1955 and soon became one of television's most popular shows.

He went on to star in "Kentucky Jones," a 1964 comedy-drama series about a veterinarian-horse trainer who adopts a Chinese orphan. Despite good reviews, the NBC show was canceled after 26 weeks.

He returned to series TV again on CBS in 1967, starring in "Gentle Ben," about a game warden, his wife, small son and a pet bear. It lasted two seasons.

"McCloud," the NBC police drama premiered in 1970 as the first of four miniseries aired under the collective title "Four-In-One." The next fall, "McCloud" joined "Columbo and "McMillan and Wife" as one of three original elements in the "NBC Mystery Movie" rotation, where it remained until 1977.

Weaver, who developed his interest in acting while watching westerns and jungle-adventure films at Saturday matinees, was a top athlete in high school.

After graduating from the University of Oklahoma in 1949, Weaver moved to New York City, where he was accepted into the Actors Studio.

He landed his first professional acting job as understudy for the role of college athlete Turk in the Broadway production of William Inge's "Come Back, Little Sheba," which opened in 1951. He later took over the role of Turk and played it on the company's national tour.

Weaver, who also was a singer and songwriter, occasionally appeared on TV variety shows and specials and recorded an album, "Dennis Weaver," in 1977.

In 1993, the Weavers moved into an environmentally sensitive house they had built on 22 acres in Ridgway: a 10,000-square-foot solar-powered house built from recycled tires and tin cans.

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