Dennis Weaver
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LOS ANGELES (AP) - Dennis Weaver, the slow-witted deputy Chester Goode in the TV classic western "Gunsmoke" and the New Mexico deputy solving New York crime in "McCloud," has died. The actor was 81.

Weaver died of complications from cancer Friday at his home in Ridgway, in southwestern Colorado, his publicist Julian Myers said.

Weaver was a struggling actor in Hollywood in 1955, earning $60 a week delivering flowers when he was offered $300 a week for a role in a new CBS television series, "Gunsmoke." By the end of his nine years with "Gunsmoke," he was earning $9,000 a week.

When Weaver first auditioned for the series, he found the character of Chester "inane." He wrote in his 2001 autobiography, "All the World's a Stage," that he said to himself: "With all my Actors Studio training, I'll correct this character by using my own experiences and drawing from myself."

The result was a well-rounded character that appealed to audiences, especially with his drawling, "Mis-ter Dil-lon."

At the end of seven hit seasons, Weaver sought other horizons. He announced his departure, but the failures of pilots for his own series caused him to return to "Gunsmoke" on a limited basis for two more years. The role brought him an Emmy in the 1958-59 season.

In 1966, Weaver starred with a 600-pound black bear in "Gentle Ben," about a family that adopts a bear as a pet. The series was well-received, but after two seasons, CBS decided it needed more adult entertainment and cancelled it.

Next came the character Sam McCloud, which Weaver called "the most satisfying role of my career."

The "McCloud" series, 1970-1977, juxtaposed a no-nonsense lawman from Taos, N.M., onto the crime-ridden streets of New York City. His wild-west tactics, such as riding his horse through Manhattan traffic, drove local policemen crazy, but he always solved the case.

He appeared in several movies, including "Touch of Evil," "Ten Wanted Men," "Gentle Giant," "Seven Angry Men," "Dragnet," "Way ... Way Out" and "The Bridges at Toko-Ri."

Weaver also was an activist for protecting the environment and combating world hunger.

He served as president of Love Is Feeding Everyone (LIFE), which fed 150,000 needy people a week in Los Angeles County. He founded the Institute of Ecolonomics, which sought solutions to economic and environmental problems. He spoke at the United Nations and Congress, as well as to college students and school children about fighting pollution and starvation.

"Earthship" was the most visible of Weaver's crusades. He and his wife Gerry built a solar-powered Colorado home out of recycled tires and cans. The thick walls helped keep the inside temperature even year around.

"When the garbage man comes," Jay Leno once quipped, "how does he know where the garbage begins and the house ends?"

Weaver responded: "If we get into the mindset of saving rather than wasting and utilizing other materials, we can save the Earth."

The tall, slender actor came by his Midwestern twang naturally. He was born June 4, 1924, in Joplin, Mo., where he excelled in high school drama and athletics. After Navy service in World War II, he enrolled at the University of Oklahoma and qualified for the Olympic decathlon.

He studied at the Actors Studio in New York and appeared in "A Streetcar Named Desire" opposite Shelley Winters and toured in "Come Back, Little Sheba" with Shirley Booth.

Universal Studio signed Weaver to a contract in 1952 but found little work for him. He freelanced in features and television until he landed "Gunsmoke."

Weaver appeared in dozens of TV movies, the most notable being the 1971 "Duel." It was a bravura performance for both fledgling director Steven Spielberg and Weaver, who played a driver menaced by a large truck that followed him down a mountain road. The film was released in theaters in 1983, after Spielberg had become director of huge moneymakers.

Weaver's other TV series include "Kentucky Jones," "Emerald Point N.A.S.," "Stone" and "Buck James." From 1973 to 1975, he served as president of the Screen Actors Guild.

Weaver is survived by his wife; sons Rick, Robby and Rusty; and three grandchildren.

Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press

Published in The Washington Post on Feb. 27, 2006.
Memories & Condolences
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521 entries
April 13, 2021
I really liked Mr. Weaver. He will always be "Chester" to me. He had a good long life, had a nice family and made money doing what he loved, Not much else to ask for. You and Mr. Dillon rest in peace
Doug Yeatts
March 29, 2021
he was a great actor and really enjoyed watching him on gunsmoke. god bless him and he will be in a better place now .
judy leland
February 14, 2021
Great actor.enjoyed him all my life.
Roy Holt
January 18, 2021
Dennis Weaver was a remarkable and highly underrated actor. In my humble opinion, he is right up there with the greatest of all time. Some of his scenes have moved me to tears in his memorable movies, notably in Duel, Bluffing It (especially the scene where he is driving a truck and has an accident and is unable to call for effective help as he can't read the road signs) and Escape from Wildcat Canyon (a memorable scene is where he discusses the horrors of war with his grandson).

From all accounts, he was a true humanitarian as well, caring and giving to others.

RIP, Mr Weaver.
Nigel Fellows
September 4, 2020
September 4, 2020
There was an large article in The Columbus Ledger Enquirer one sunday by some track star from Phenix City, Al. about 2005 or 06. telling about he and Dennis track running ect. Was very interesting. Would like to read again.
Alvin Wilkinson
August 20, 2020
In loving memory of a wonderful person. We will love you and miss you always.
July 30, 2020
Love his T.v.shows Ms. Betty Salem Chatman
Betty Ealem
July 19, 2020
Love watching Gun Smoke and McCloud he was a great actor they don't come any better then him
Sandra Feltz
June 12, 2020
he was the most amazing and gentle man I had ever worked with!
janet macdonald
May 18, 2020
Long Beach, CA. 1956 at a Cub Scout dinner meeting hall on Pacific Ave. between Hill St. & Willow Ave. Dennis Weaver and Kitty Russell, Amanda Blake
and Doc Adams, Wilbur Stone. All three
actors came Live on the stage in this hall.
For this Cub Scout function. I can still see Dennis Weaver coming on the stage with his Limp leg acting style. As Kitty Russel and Doc Adams were already on stage. Then Chester in his black western boots started walking across the stage back and forth to show that he had a normal walk.
When you are a kid at that age, you remember that event all your life. The three Gunsmoke Actors were all so nice to all of the Cub Scout members and our families at that time in Long Beach, CA. When I am in Long Beach, I always make a point to drive by that Hall. I do not think there is anyone left to remember that live Gunsmoke evening in 1956.
Michael Markovich
May 2, 2020
When I met him in 1972, he was a quiet on-watcher at our War on Viet-Nam Protest. We had a quiet conversation. I felt a sense of peacefulness in him that I carried away from me that day and have floated in to that rest from time to time when I remember him.
Denny Shafer
April 23, 2020
Wanted to take time to light a candle for him an the loving of gun smoke God bless their family's as it continues to grow , an that their legacy of the show will live on with love ,Lisa Marie knight
Lisa Knight
April 7, 2020
My wife and I loved making music with you in Europ. Thanks for the joy you brought into our lives.
Stewart and Jeannie Barnes
February 29, 2020
I would like to offer my sincerest respect to the family and friends of mr Dennis weaver may the God of tender mercies grant him peace
February 19, 2020
Dennis a great person I was glad to meet him on the interstate assisting him with his vehicle troubles. I didnt realize who he was but his wanting to pay me For my help. I said no pass it on my friend, at that moment he said Im Dennis, Dennis weaver and at once I said Chester I thought that you looked Familiar and you sounded like Chester from gunsmoke. I gave him my name he shook my hand said God Bless you for the help sir. I was on my way to college CNBC Mpls., minn. after visiting my home town ottumwa iowa. Im glad to have had this encounter.,
Ron Lewis
January 17, 2020
I met Dennis Weaver when I was sent to cover the Ridgway Dog Sledding Races for Montrose Daily Press in which Dennis Weaver headed. He treated me with great respect. A kind, compassionate, humble and down to earth gentleman. I had the most rewarding time while in his presence. Mr. Weaver spoke highly of others and his love in saving our environment and his love for his lama, "McCloud" which I had the honor of doing a private photo shoot at his home in Ridgway of him with McCloud! Mr. Weaver invited me on a tour of his home made from tires and cans, it was magnificently beautiful! He gave My Son one of his black minx kittens when I brought him his finished photos. The second year he sponsored The Ridgway Dog Sled Races in Ridgway he personally asked for me to cover the event again for him. Mr. Weaver treated me with utmost genuine professionalism. I loved his acting, his compassion, his witty sense of humor, his kindness to others and the great times at The Red Barn in Ridgway, CO!! Thank you Dennis for the forever memories!!!
Suzanna Eckchum (Eckert)
September 15, 2019
We are a retired couple that loves to watch Gunsmoke , Chester just made the show. Hes really not gone to us , we still see him on tv. Thank you so much
Ronald and Carolyn Schultz
September 4, 2019
My uncle Sam Maupin played football at Oklahoma University with Dennis Weaver, so we always watched him on TV. He was a great character actor because he was totally real! Sadly, Sam Died at age 23 in WW2
Sallye Maupin - Wentz
June 20, 2019
great actor saw him in duel save a seat for me in heaven
sherri reed
June 9, 2019
Miss you!
Rebecca Hardin
May 30, 2019
I have always loved Dennis Weaver and to this day I still watch McCloud. They don't make shows like that anymore. A truly great actor. RIP
April 27, 2019
Chester/Weaver,Dennis was great in the gunsmoke series very believable character turkey skilled actor his quality today is found wanting among the Pitts, Clooneys of todays ?men?
Ron Lewis
February 12, 2019
I loved him as Chester, perfect for the role. Great environmentalist, and was head on in the rights of animals. All around a really good human being. Sad that he has passed. Wish he was still here.
Linda Hull
February 5, 2019
I still look at all the gun smoke he was an still my favorite. Chester may u. R. I. P
Celestine Lewis
October 12, 2018
I really like him very much but,what gets me is I picked him and his wife up at the Atlanta airport, brought them to Chattanooga Tn and didnt ask for him autograph. Man I have regretted this ever since that day. Wish he was still here. Thanks
James W. Piece
October 9, 2018
My husband and I still love the Gunsmoke episodes w/Dennis Weaver/Chester. Wonderful Actor All Around. Loved Chester and McCloud. He will Always be missed
Becky& Lewis Hudson
April 21, 2018
Take comfort in knowing that now you have a special guardian angel to watch over you.
george turner
March 24, 2018
I loved Dennis Weaver in McCloud! My favorite shows...thankyou! R.I.P
Frances Montano
March 4, 2018
You are sadly missed i watch gunsmoke every day I would have loved to have met you Rest in peace
Heather Stone
December 29, 2017
On Walt Disney's Tom Sawyer Island when my cousin and I were in Disneyland we bumped right into Mr. Weaver who was nicely attired in a light brown v neck sweater and tan slacks. His young son was with him. I knew who he was and was timid about asking for his autograph. It was apparent he and his son were spending quality time together and probably should not be disturbed. However, I mustered up courage and politely asked if he would give me his autograph and he graciously did so on my Tom Sawyer Island brochure. He was so nice about it. I still have that signature! May you rest in peace Mr. Weaver.
Barbara Floto
October 26, 2017
My all-time favorite deputy (and less irritating than Barney Fife). I'm so sorry that he had cancer but glad he died at home in CO. 81 is a nice age but 150 is better.
RIP Chester!
Barbara Renton
October 24, 2017
Dennis Weaver was to Gunsmoke what Don Knotts was to The Andy Griffith Show. He created an outstanding, unforgettable character. His reactions, gestures, interpretation of lines kept me watching him every second. He was a fine actor in all of his roles and was way ahead of his time in showing humanity toward animals. He was simply a wonderful human being and indeed left his mark.
B.D. Miller
September 26, 2017
I was fortunate to meet Dennis at the July 4 parade in Ouray Colorado the year before his passing. He was on a Wagon float, something inside me made me leave the viewing area and run into the parade. Dennis reached out to me, I told him i liked all his movies and tv shows. I He thanked me, then i said my favorite was when the oil tanker truck chased him for miles. What he said back now haunts me. He said " It's still chasing me" . He looked healthy, i had no idea he had Cancer, he knew that truck was going to get him. Rest in peace Dennis, I look at your home and memorial park every time we visit Ridgway/Ouray.
George SMITH
September 18, 2017
I recently got the "WE" channel and watch Gunsmoke everyday. Chester is a very big part of that show and I'm sorry that he is gone.
September 11, 2017
Giotti Ermigiotti
August 25, 2017
Back in 1972, Dennis came into our self service gas station on Ventura Blvd. He was wearing his McCloud coat and asked if I knew who he was. I said no. Loved pulling his (good) leg.
Valerie Ring
August 11, 2017
Great actor. Nobody else like him. RI.P.
michelle Leblanc
August 11, 2017
I enjoyed all of Mr. WEAVERS WORK. He was a great actor and by all accounts a very fine man.
June 17, 2017
Just loved his voice
Edward toney
June 4, 2017
Condolences to Mr Weaver's loved ones. A great actor who is missed. Chester B Goode on Gunsmoke was one of the greatest characters and an ensemble cast with James A, Millburn Stone, Amanda Blake. A good clean show still loved today. Rest in peace William Dennis Weaver.
May 28, 2017
My wife and I met Dennis Weaver in a Subway Restaurant during one of his visits to his home town, Joplin, Missouri. He was very gracious, friendly, genuine and down to earth. Although he met with considerable success during his acting career, he seemed to always remember his roots and home town folks. God bless him. Doug G.
Doug Glynn
May 21, 2017
Thanku for the memories rest in peace
Jerry Neff
May 1, 2017
ED Galica
April 12, 2017
May God continue to Bless You forever. To one of the "Greatest Actors" Ever, as well as being one of the Best Humanitarians ever, as well. You are missed, but never forgotten. Rest in Peace in Heaven. Love and peace to you, your family and fans always.
Debra G.
March 26, 2017
I'm watching Mcloud right now on Cozi Tv and I looked up how tall he was, which led me to this article. I watched Mcloud from the time it came on tv. I loved Gunsmoke but didn't get to see Dennis Weaver in it. I was a little girl when he did this role because I don't remember him in that. I saw DUEL. A superb performance. I will always have great memories of my adolescent years watching this man solve crimes with that Midwestern accent. A wonderful and caring human being. It's years later but may the Lord Jesus bless and keep his family with precious memories of this great actor, husband, father,grandfather. God Bless.
Kerry Logan
February 25, 2017
Always like Dennis Weaver great actor sorry to hear about his passing
Earl Cole
February 16, 2017
Thanks for the great Chester Goode memories! You made R. J. Poteet the personification of a Trail Boss in Centennial. I will always remember you as I continue to watch these shows. Jesus Christ is the resurrection and the life. Someday death will be a forgotten memory.
Nazarene Mckinney
January 29, 2017
Dennis Weaver will always be a part of my childhood . I remember him so well as Chester Goode . I watched the very first episode of Gunsmoke when it was presented on TV for the first time . He played a great part on that show . For years , I thought he really had a limp ,finding out later that he was acting . He will be missed . Pat Brown , Columbia , SC
January 22, 2017
God Bless Rest In Peace
Denise Evensen
January 22, 2017
I grew up watching this show and Chester was a ...Cutie. They ALL were Excellent Actors and Actresses. I love Old School shows that were Moral and Respectful. I thank GOD for growing me up in those GOOD days of the past.
December 29, 2016
Dennis Weaver will surely be missed in the Woolard house. He was a man with a good heart. We, like so many other die-hards still watch gunsmoke and WILL until the day we die.Every day my wife and I see miss kitty, doc, mr. Dillon, chester the writers,directors,everyone that has anything to do with the show, our hats are to you all.
Billy & Brenda Woolard
December 13, 2016
What a great actor in all of his movies,but it's hard to walk around with a limp constantly, muse been a hectic job, staring in Gunsmoke
Robert Allbritton
December 10, 2016
The show always good.
james sweazy
December 9, 2016
Best always, "Chester", you Matt, Doc and Kitty stole the show from the "Brando" approach and gave us something to live for today. You guys were the same everyday. I try to be. God Bless and Happy Trails to you. Mike Craig
November 18, 2016
Loved him in Gunsmoke it had more values back then
Janet Russ
November 14, 2016
Love gunsmoke should be more shows like it!
Had values something we don't have today loved the whole crew! I feel blessed I grew up with it
Nancy seaman
October 30, 2016
He will stay forever in our hearts
Antonio Rabbi
October 27, 2016
Merle loved you in "Duel" as well as "Gunsmoke" Merle D. Tatum.
October 26, 2016
James Pierce
October 24, 2016
Sandy Phipps
October 12, 2016
Valenda Newell
September 22, 2016
My favorite western still watching reruns never get tired Matt Chester Kitty and Doc R I P all 4.
Daniel Anderson
September 21, 2016
Love him in Gunsmoke
Dan Walsh
September 10, 2016
I love watching all Dennis Weaver's shows R.I.P in Heaven.
Rosemary Mayers
August 27, 2016
Dennis Weaver... I watched McCloud as a young girl but didn't start watching " Gunsmoke " til later in life & loved him as McDillion's sidekick. I truly truly loved those two actor together ( the show as a hole ) & just thank you BLESS YOUR SOUL In Heaven.... He stood for alot and were noticeably appreciated for attributes..Truly Remembered
Jennifer Quales
August 13, 2016
Dennis weaver " Chester Good " I still watch you on gun smoke . You was a very good actor . I love the part when you say MR Dillon. I want to say to the family you had a very successfuly and loving. Father
Vickie Hahn
August 8, 2016
Mary marquardt
August 8, 2016
I enjoy all his series and movies. He had quite a "twang" in Gunsmoke.

Mr Weaver is surely missed.

I was so sure he acted in the Flipper series and, yet there is no mention?!
Indira Rivera
July 14, 2016
Mary Dryden
July 14, 2016
You are missed by the world,as wonderful kind hearted people as Mr weaver leave us there are few who can fill his shoes.
Carolyn Coder
July 6, 2016
I was a big fan of Gunsmoke. And I still watch reruns I will miss Chester Goode my prayers go out to is family and may he rest in peace and all the star that were on Gunsmoke And sometimes I watch McCloud when I can get it.
July 1, 2016
God bless you
catherine Broz
June 26, 2016
I have just started watching Gunsmoke every Saturday Morning with Mr. Weaver playing Chester Goode truly a wonderful actor very Good show and it's not called Gunsmoke it's called Marshall Dillion but Chester is my favorite character especially the way he says Maaarrrrssshhheeeelllll Diiiiillllliiiiiioooooonnnn
Derrell Lewis
June 2, 2016
Dennis walked up to me after I facilitated an environmental forum for USEPA and Al Gore in the 1990's in Washingyon D, C, I looked up at him after thanking him for his compliment. He smiled and I said you are someone famous! He introduced himself along with a colleague from the Boulder city council. He gave me his card and invited me to Boulder to see his home! He was kind, had a very agreeable presence and left me with a feeling of kindness and good will in his presence. God bless his family and may his peace surround you with the many good memories of Dennis. Oh, I still have his " calling card"!
Ken Wright
May 21, 2016
Sheliah statesboro georgia
sheliah rushing
May 21, 2016
Dennis weaver was an amazing actor.watched him for many years.I hope his family has found peace and comfort.they are. In my will be missed sorely for many years to come.
sheliah rushing
May 8, 2016
I loved him in anything he did.sadly missed
John Smythe
May 7, 2016
You were so good in gunsmock i still watch you my dad did too.but he is heaven too
Jackie Scott
May 7, 2016
You were so good in gunsmock i still watch you my dad did too.but he is heaven too
Jackie Scott
April 21, 2016
Always watched him on Gunsmoke
Ron Black
April 19, 2016
Travelled on a flight and sat by him from Auckland NZ to LA.
A true Gent with no edge about him.
On arrival Lax all the Airport workers were shouting out "Hi Mr. Weaver and he smiled and waved back to them all"
I still have the autograph.
Struck me as a wonderful genuine man.
You are missed
Syd New Zealand
April 19, 2016
April 14, 2016
So very missed Dennis.....wonderful actor..
April 9, 2016
R.I.P. thanks for your acting it was great. you will be missed.
March 29, 2016
RIP. Mr. Weaver "CHESTER"
Katie Brown
March 26, 2016
You will be missed.
Prayers for the family.
David Anning
March 13, 2016
My heart goes out to the family and friends. I just watched MC Cloud on TV.I didn't Know of his passing, I pray that the Good Lord will be with all of you in your time of sorrow. God Bless each and all.
Minnie Pierce
March 10, 2016
Rest in peace
Cathy Marsd
March 10, 2016
A american icon. My you rest in peace.
Cathy Marsd
March 8, 2016
Myra Tucker
February 18, 2016
Loved Denis weaver thought he was a very special person and a wonderful actor sadly missed
Liz Huggins
February 13, 2016
I have always gotten great peace and solitude from Mr Weaver's characters. God Bless him
Deween Firmani-Affrunti
February 11, 2016
Great actor miss you loads the one lancs UK
gorden marton
January 11, 2016
Rest in peace my friend. God blass you sir.
Willam Brown
January 7, 2016
I currently see the early years of Gunsmoke on two cable stations in NYC. Love Mr. Weaver as Chester. I sometimes laugh so hard I cry. Will always miss you. Rest in Peace with the Angels.
T. Honeghan
December 31, 2015
I still watch the very early reruns of Gun Smoke with my son. We enjoy them so much.Its so wonderful that Dennis cares so much about the environment and hunger. He was a true giff. Bless you Dennis, where every you are.
Lynn Giedd
December 30, 2015
Thinking of you my friend, you are missed....
Alison Trafton
December 27, 2015
I would have been honored to know Mr. Weaver. He must have been a joy to know.
Kina Pearce
December 26, 2015
The main film I remember Dennis in is duel a 70's film brilliant film and I still watch it, great actor sadly gone, rip mr weaver
Colin Quinn
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