Dennis Weaver, who played limping deputy Chester Goode in GUNSMOKE and the intelligent New Mexico deputy solving crime in the Big Apple in TV's MCCLOUD, died Friday, Feb. 24, 2006. He was 81 years old. Weaver died at his home in Ridgway, in southwestern Colorado, of complications from cancer, publicist Julian Myers said Monday.
In the world of animation, Weaver provided the voices of Dusty and Josh in the 1990 DIC animated series CAPTAIN PLANET AND THE PLANETEERS, which was later renamed THE NEW ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN PLANET. Weaver also voiced Abner in Disney's 2004 feature film HOME ON THE RANGE. In February 2002, Weaver made a guest appearance on the SIMPSONS episode "The Lastest Gun in the West" as the voice of aging Hollywood cowboy star Buck McCoy.
His performance as Chester was the inspiration of the Hanna-Barbera cartoon character Droop-A-Long Coyote, the sidekick to Ricochet Rabbit. Mel Blanc's voice as Droop-A-Long was an imitation of Weaver's voice as Chester.
Born on June 4, 1924, in Joplin, Missouri, William Dennis Weaver had some Cherokee Native American ancestry. He had roles in more than 90 movies and TV shows in his 53-year career.
He served in World War II as a U.S. Naval Air Corps pilot. After the war, he enrolled in theater at the University of Oklahoma.
In 1948, he was placed sixth in the decathlon in the U.S. Olympic trials. He won the 1500-meter run as part of the event.
Weaver was president of the Screen Actors Guild from 1973 to 1975.
An activist for fighting world hunger and an activist for environmental protection, Weaver was a vegetarian. He served as president of Love Is Feeding Everyone (LIFE), which fed 150,000 needy people in Los Angeles County each week. He founded the Institute of Ecolonomics, which sought to solve economic and environmental problems. He spoke at the United Nations and Congress about fighting pollution and starvation, and toured schools speaking on the subject as well.
He and his wife Gerry Stowell built "Earthship," a solar-powered Colorado home, from recycled tires and cans.
Dennis Weaver lost a daughter-in-law in a July 2003 Santa Monica, California car accident that killed more than eight people.
Weaver is survived by his wife since 1945; by sons Rick, an actor/producer/director; Robby, an actor; and Rusty; daughters-in-law Judith and Madison; and grandchildren Jennifer, Travis and Jess.