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Dennis Weaver

Weaver in August 1997
Born William Dennis Weaver
June 4, 1924(1924-06-04)
Joplin, Missouri, U.S.
Died February 24, 2006 (aged 81)
Ridgway, Colorado, U.S.
Other name(s) Danny Weaver
Occupation Actor
Years active 1952–2005
Spouse(s) Gerry Stowell (m. 1945–2006) «start: (1945)–end+1: (2007)»"Marriage: Gerry Stowell to Dennis Weaver" Location: (linkback:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dennis_Weaver)

Dennis Weaver (June 4, 1924 – February 24, 2006) was an American actor, best known for his work in television, including roles on Gunsmoke, as Marshal Sam McCloud on the NBC police drama McCloud, and the 1971 TV movie Duel.

Contents

Life and career

Early life

Weaver was born William Dennis Weaver in Joplin, Missouri, the son of Lena Prather (1892–1970) and Walter Weaver (1890–1967), of Irish, Scottish, English, Cherokee and Osage ancestry. He wanted to be an actor from boyhood. He started college at Joplin Junior College, now Missouri Southern State University and later attended the University of Oklahoma at Norman, where he studied drama and also was a track star, setting records in several events. He served as a pilot in the United States Navy during the Second World War. In 1945, he married Gerry Stowell, with whom he had three children (Rick, Robbie and Rustin). In 1948, he tried out for the U.S. Olympic team in the decathlon. After he finished sixth in the Olympic Trials (only the top three made the team), his college friend Lonny Chapman convinced him to come to New York City to try acting.

Career

Weaver's first role on Broadway came as an understudy to Chapman as Turk Fisher in Come Back, Little Sheba. He eventually took over the role from Chapman in the national touring company. Solidifying his choice to become an actor, Weaver enrolled in The Actors Studio, where he met Shelley Winters. In the beginning of his acting career, he supported his family by doing a number of odd jobs, including selling vacuum cleaners, tricycles and women's hosiery.

In 1952, Winters aided him in getting a contract from Universal Studios. He made his film debut that same year in the movie The Redhead from Wyoming. Over the next three years, he played roles in a series of movies, but still had to work odd jobs to support his family. It was while delivering flowers that he heard he had landed his biggest break — the role of Chester Goode on the new television series Gunsmoke  — which would go on to become the highest-rated and longest-running series in US television history (1955 to 1975). He received an Emmy Award in 1959 for Best Supporting Actor (Continuing Character) in a Dramatic Series.

Having become famous as Chester, he was cast in an offbeat supporting role in the 1958 Orson Welles film Touch of Evil, in which he nervously repeated, "I'm the night man." In 1961 he did an episode of The Twilight Zone called "Shadow Play" where he was trapped inside his own dream.

From 1964 to 1965, he portrayed a friendly veterinarian in NBC's comedy-drama Kentucky Jones. His next substantial role was as Tom Wedloe on the CBS series Gentle Ben, with co-star Clint Howard, between 1967 and 1969.

Weaver in Duel (1971)

He began appearing on the series McCloud in 1970, for which he received two Emmy Award nominations. In 1974, he was nominated for Best Lead Actor in a Limited Series and in 1975, for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series. His frequent use of the affirming Southernism, "There you go," became a catchphrase for the show. During the series, in 1971, he appeared in Duel, a television movie directed by Steven Spielberg. From 1973 to 1975, he was president of the Screen Actors Guild.

Later series during the 1980s (both of which lasted only one season) were Stone in which Weaver played a Joseph Wambaugh-esque police sergeant turned crime novelist, and Buck James, in which he played a Texas-based surgeon and rancher (Buck James was loosely based on real-life Texas doctor Red Duke).

In 1978, Weaver played the trail boss R.J. Poteet in the television miniseries Centennial on the episode titled "The Longhorns." Weaver also appeared in many acclaimed television films. In 1980, he played Dr. Samuel Mudd, who was imprisoned for involvement in the Lincoln assassination, in The Ordeal Of Doctor Mudd. In 1983, he played a real estate agent addicted to cocaine in Cocaine: One Man's Seduction. Weaver received probably the best reviews of his career when he starred in the 1987 film Bluffing It, in which he played a man who is illiterate. In February 2002, he appeared on the animated series The Simpsons (episode DABF07, "The Lastest Gun in the West") as the voice of aging Hollywood cowboy legend Buck McCoy.

For his contribution to the television industry, Dennis Weaver was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6822 Hollywood Blvd, and on the Dodge City (KS) Trail of Fame. In 1981, he was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame with the Wrangler Award at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Weaver's most recent work was done on an ABC Family cable television show called Wildfire, where he played Henry, the father of Jean Ritter and the co-owner of Raintree Ranch. He was only on the show for season 1, and died of complications from cancer at the age of 81 on February 24, 2006. He was cremated and his ashes were given to his family.

Personal life

Weaver had been a vegetarian since 1958 and student of yoga and meditation since the 1960s. He was also renowned as an environmentalist, promoting eating lower on the food chain, alternate fuels such as hydrogen and wind power through an educational organization he founded, The Institute of Ecolonomics (a neologism formed by combining "ecology" and "economics").[1] He was also involved with John Denver's WindStar Foundation. He founded an organisation called Love is Feeding Everyone which provided food for 150,000 needy people a week in Los Angeles.[1]

Weaver was active in Liberal political causes. He used his celebrity status in instrumental roles as a fundraiser and organizer for George McGovern's campaign for president in 1972.[2]

In 2004, he led a fleet of alternative fuel vehicles across America in order to raise awareness about America's dependence on oil.[1]

The “Earth Ship,” the personal home he commissioned architect Michael Reynolds to design and build in Ridgway, Colorado during the late 1980s, incorporated recycled materials in its construction and featured advanced eco-technologies.

Weaver was consistently involved with the annual Genesis Awards, which were created by The Ark Trust to honor those in the media who bring attention to the plight and suffering of animals.

There will come a time … when civilized people will look back in horror on our generation and the ones that preceded it: the idea that we should eat other living things running around on four legs, that we should raise them just for the purpose of killing them! The people of the future will say “meat-eaters!” in disgust and regard us in the same way we regard cannibals and cannibalism – Dennis Weaver

Selected filmography

References

  1. ^ a b c "A TV hero for real-life change: Dennis Weaver, actor, 1924-2006" in The Sydney Morning Herald, March 29, 2006, p. 29
  2. ^ McGovern, George S., Grassroots: The Autobiography of George McGovern, Random House, 1977, pp. 173, 247

External links








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