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Exactly Why Dennis Weaver Left The Gunsmoke Series?

dennis weaver
Dennis Weaver (Credits: Outsider)

Dennis Weaver was an American actor and president of the Screen Actors Guild, known for television in the 1950s till his death in 2006. He became recognized after playing Matt Dillon’s assistant Chester Goode in Gunsmoke in 1955.

He comes from Joplin, Missouri, from a mixed Irish, English, Scottish, and Cherokee father. In World War 2, he served as a fighter pilot in US Navy. Weaver died of cancer in 2006 in Ridway, southwestern Colorado.

Gunsmoke is the longest-running prime-time show and has been named All-Time Best TV Program. Gunsmoke dealt with race and religion in a dramatic series. It was a top-rated show with brilliant ratings, directed by Norman MacDonell, created by Charles Marquis Warren, and written by John Meston.


Gunsmoke Cast in the 1950s (Credits: Outsider)

He was also an environmental activist and Emmy award-winning Chester Goode. He majored in drama at the University of Oklahoma. Not just that, he even recorded an album Dennis Weaver in 1977.

He was a humanitarian and ecologically concerned guy. After this introduction, read more about why Dennis Weaver left Gunsmoke.

Exactly Why Dennis Weaver Left The Gunsmoke Series?

It is not quite surprising to know that Dennis Weaver was moving forward in his career with new shows, which is why he left the show. He left after nine seasons, and fans noticed that the main character Chester was gone.

It is true that he was looking for new and better opportunities because he had dealt too much with the character- for nine years. One can see that he had been planning something healthier for his career as he chose a lead role on NBC’s Kentucky Jones.

His last episode was ‘Bently,’ where he left Dodge City to find a murderer after a twisted deathbed confession. The truth is that he didn’t find any outlet for creativity in the character anymore. One can see that so many years ago, making such a bold career choice was risky as most actors doing that just simply vanished in the 1950s.

But he proved to start a fresh beginning for actor’s careers, and he stepped on a new foot for the rest of his life. The NBC series wasn’t quite long, but he moved on with police drama McCloud, playing the role of Deputy Marshal Sam McCloud, airing from 1970 to 1977.

As for Chester, Dennis gave him a limp during an audition, believing that he was injured in Civil War. It is understandable that he was frustrated at being rejected for not being fit for a supportive role. He was too ‘physically fit’ for a sidekick which has always been too fat, too old, or too young.

A Challenging Limp

Because of this, he had to sustain a newfound limp to fit the expectations of a comparably physically unsound supporting role. Weaver told the Los Angeles Evening Citizen News in 1957 that he created a limp with his right leg because his left leg was always comparably more athletic.

This means that he had a challenge with pretending to have an impaired leg, especially while riding horses like Chester. But as a skilled actor, his strength let him act up as a limping man even better- fans sent him letters asking if he was, in fact, limped in real life.

This earned him some very admiring and loyal fans. He was fooling the world and creating a world-famous limp at the same time. He even caught the eyes of a Cancer researcher from the University of California medical center. It was quite funny that he feared that limping too much would actually give him a real limp, so he practiced indoors.

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