Actor. He is remembered as an American actor during the 20th century, who usually played roles of a cowboy in the Old West. As a struggling actor, his big break came in 1955 with a $300-per-week job in the television western series “Gunsmoke,” as Chester Goode, the limping, humorous colleague to the United States Marshall, Matt Dillion played by James Arness. At the end of his nine years with "Gunsmoke," he was earning $9,000 a week and had won an Emmy for the 1958 to 1959 season. This followed with his own series “Kentucky Jones,” which lasted for only one year. From 1967 to 1969, CBS television paired him with a 600-pound American black bear in "Gentle Ben.” From 1970 to 1977, he starred as a New Mexico deputy sheriff, who was assigned to work in New York City, in the role of Sam McCloud in the TV series “McCloud”. Not only did he star in television series, but directed some of the episodes. He played leading roles in 40 movies including Orson Welles' 1958 film thriller “Touch of Evil,” and in 1971 launching director Steven Spielberg's career with “Duel.” He was the president of the Screen Actors Guild from 1973 to 1975 and has a star on the southside of the 6900 block on the Hollywood Boulevard Star Walk of Fame. He was inducted in the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in 1981. In 1977 as a singer and songwriter, he produced an album, “Dennis Weaver.” A vegetarian since 1958, he was also a devoted environmentalist who spoke out against America's addiction to fossil fuels, and lived in a solar-powered home constructed from recycled automobile tires and 300,000 tin and aluminum cans. He was also a long-time advocate for "creating prosperity without pollution," and recycled almost everything he used. He founded The Institute of Ecolonomics, a coined word combining ecology and economics. He was co-founded Love Is Feeding Everyone (LIFE), a program to feed the hungry in Los Angeles, California. With views of the Rocky Mountains, the spectacular, 60-acre Dennis Weaver Memorial Park is dedicated as a wildlife reserve in Ridgway, Colorado. Living on a farm as a boy during the Great Depression, he served as a United States Navy Pilot during World War II, then attended University of Oklahoma earning a degree in fine arts in theater in 1949 before performing on stage in New York City. While at University of Oklahoma, he was a world-class track athlete, a potential Olympic contender in the decathlon and nearly making the 1948 United States Olympic Team. He married his childhood sweetheart and the couple had three sons, who, like their father, are part of the entertainment business. According to his obituary, his cause of death was from the complications of cancer.
Bio by: Fred Beisser
Geraldine Stowell Weaver