What’s actor Dennis Weaver’s story?

Charlene Allison
Los Angeles, California

In a career that lasted more than 50 years, Dennis Weaver was best known as Chester, Matt Dillon’s trusty deputy on Gunsmoke from 1955-1964. Between 1970 and 1977, he starred as the title character on McCloud, a “cowboy in the big city” Western. His various cowboy roles ranged from the trail boss in 1978’s Centennial miniseries to a retired cowboy actor in “The Latest Gun in the West” episode of the animated Fox series The Simpsons.

Weaver was a Navy pilot during WWII. In 1948, he became a decathlon finalist in the trials for the U.S. Olympics. He made his film debut in Universal’s The Redhead from Wyoming in 1952. After earning an Emmy for his role in Gunsmoke in 1959, he represented his peers as the president of the Screen Actors Guild from 1973 to 1975.

Most know Dennis Weaver as Deputy Chester Goode in Gunsmoke. – Courtesy CBS –

He was also a talented musician, who released Country Western albums, and he performed on the stage, in a one-man Shakespearean play and in a family variety show.

When he died in 2006, he wanted to be remembered for his humanitarian and environmental efforts; he dedicated 175 acres with Rocky Mountain views for a wildlife preserve in Ridgeway, Colorado.

Although most remember him as a peace officer or detective on television, Weaver was a gifted renaissance man.

Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian and vice president of the Wild West History Association. . His latest book is Arizona’s Outlaws and Lawmen; History Press, 2015. If you have a question, write:  Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or e-mail him at

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