Actor Dennis Weaver, known for playing sidekick Chester Goode on "Gunsmoke" and lawman Deputy Marshal Sam McCloud on "McCloud," was loved by fans.
Dennis Weaver played doctors, anchors, and judges in fifty years of his TV and film career. He played Chester Goode in "Gunsmoke" from 1955 to 1964 and Sam McCloud in the '70s crime series, "McCloud.
His dear friend and fellow co-star actress Valerie Harper, who played his on-screen wife twice, shared why people would always adore him.
(L) Actor Dennis Weaver who plays Sam McCloud in the TV series "McCloud," pictured in London on February 7, 1977. (R) Dennis Weaver and Gerry Stowell arriving at London airport in 1973. / Source: Getty Images
"I'll always think of Dennis in his cowboy boots and hat, whether it was as Chester or McCloud, people loved him," she said. "You could always count on him. He was steady. He had a wonderful American quality," Harper added.
Not everyone knew Weaver was a faithful husband who was married to his beautiful wife Geraldine "Gerry" Stowell for 61 years. Here are the details about their fascinating love story that lasted for more than half a century.
Dennis Weaver and wife Gerry Stowell during L.I.F.E. Benefit for Dennis Weaver at Century Plaza Hotel on October 12, 1990 in Century City, California. / Source: Getty Images
HOW WEAVER AND GERRY MET & GOT MARRIED
Weaver revealed in his book that he met Stowell at a Joplin Junior College sock-hop in 1942. She was a figure roller skater and wore one of her skating gears at the dance:
“When she was right smack dab in front of me, Bobby gave Gerry a powerful whirl, and her skirt twirl, exposing the nearest pair of legs I’d ever seen. I got a glimpse of those red tights, and it was all over!”
The "Duel" star further explained that Stowell was the only person he danced with the rest of the evening, adding that that was the beginning of a "grand partnership that has lasted more than fifty years."
Dennis Weaver and Gerry Stowell attend the Museum of Television & Radio Gala on September 29, 2002 in Beverly Hills, California. / Source: Getty Images
Weaver shared his wife "has truly blessed and enriched my life." Three years after meeting during a Friday night Joplin High School football game, in the middle of the second quarter, he proposed saying:
“I’d like to know if you’d marry me.”
Dennis Weaver and Gerry Stowell during "Country Christmas with L.I.F.E." 1989 concert at Universal City Ampitheater in Universal City, California. / Source: Getty Images
Stowell said "yes!" right away, but he told her she should hesitate a bit, so he popped the big question again. Again, she said "yes!" instantly.
On October 20, 1945, the happy couple drove to Columbus, Kan, on the same night of the proposal. They were married by a justice of the peace and had their pals, Morris and Louise Cole, as their witnesses.
Dennis Weaver and Gerry Stowell during L.I.F.E.'s Country Christmas at Universal Ampitheater on December 8, 1990 in Universal City, California. / Source: Getty Images
Interestingly, the bride and groom had no rings and used Weaver's navy ring instead, and the next day, the newly wedded Stowell paid for real wedding bands.
Moreover, in their junior college yearbook was a picture of the two dancing, and the staff wrote: "The couple that always Weaved across the floor and Stowell the show."
Dennis Weaver and Gerry Weaver during Dennis Weaver Sighting at Century Plaza Hotel on May 6, 1984 in Century Plaza, California. / Source: Getty Images
THROUGH THICK & THIN
Weaver served in the US navy, then, as a beginning actor, he delivered flowers, sold tricycles, women's hosiery, vacuum cleaners, and worked in a toy shop.
When he was a struggling actor, Stowell was by her husband's side, who earned $60 a week in 1955. They later had three sons, Rick, Rusty, and Robby.
Dennis Weaver and his Gerry Stowell attend the 44th Annual Los Angeles Press Club Southern California Journalism Awards on June 22, 2002 in Beverly Hills, California. / Source: Getty Images
The couple welcomed their eldest son Rick in 1948, their second child Rusty arrived in 1953, and the youngest member of the family, Robby, was born in 1959.
As their family grew, the "Wildfire" star began looking for better roles to earn more money for his loved ones. Weaver was then offered $300 a week for a role in a new CBS TV show "Gunsmoke."
Dennis Weaver as Chester Goode, Amanda Blake as Kitty Russell in the series "Gunsmoke" pictured on May 27, 1960. / Source: Getty Images
By the end of his nine years with the television series, he earned $9000 weekly. The role even won him an Emmy award in the 1958-59 season.
Next came his most significant role to date, playing Sam McCloud in "McCloud," which he called "the most satisfying role of my career." The show, which ran from 1970 to 1977, featured the Missouri native as a New Mexico lawman cast on the streets of New York City.
Dennis Weaver and Gerry Stowell arrive at the "Lift Ev'ry Vote" Hollywood fundraiser at the home of Michael Keegan on May 22, 2004 in Los Angeles, California. / Source: Getty Images
Weaver, also a director, had a comedy/variety show with his spouse, Stowell, and their son Rusty. The Hollywood star's lengthy career ranged beyond acting.
He also directed several episodes of various television shows, wrote poetry, and had his autobiography, "All the World's a Stage," published in 2001.
Dennis Weaver and Gerry Stowell during 38th Annual Publicists Guild of America Awards at Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. / Source: Getty Images
Notably, his success did not hinder his marriage anyhow and instead made it even stronger as Weaver wrote that over the years, their love, like fine wine, had grown sweeter with time.
The former president of Screen Actors Guild discussed his elopement to the mother of his kids once, saying he would not recommend it for everyone.
"I wouldn't recommend it for everybody. But it's been over a half-century, and we're still hanging out together, and over the years, our love, like fine wine, has grown sweeter with time. These are the most love-filled days of our lives, and we are truly blessed, for that love continues to deepen," said Weaver.
Dennis Weaver and Gerry Stowell attend a surprise 70th birthday party for TV show host Larry King at the Museum of Television and Radio on November 19, 2003, in Beverly Hills, California. / Source: Getty Images
THEY WANTED TO SAVE THE WORLD
Aside from their solid bondage romantically, Stowell and Weaver were also activists for protecting the environment and combating world hunger and did their activism work together.
In 1982, the pair and some of their friends founded Love Is Feeding Everyone, which fed more than 100,000 people in Los Angeles weekly.
Dennis Weaver and Gerry Weaver during 6th TV Academy Hall of Fame Awards at FOX TV Studios in Hollywood, California. / Source: Getty Images
In 1993, Weaver and his wife founded a non-profit group called Institute of Ecolonomics – a word he coined from combining ecology and economics – to discover solutions to environmental issues.
Since 1990, he and Stowell had lived in an earth ship: an almost 100,000-square-foot, solar-powered home in Ridgway made from 3,000 recycled tires and 300,000 tin and aluminum cans.
Dennis Weaver and Gerry Stowell during 13th Annual Environmental Media Awards at The Ebell Theatre in Los Angeles, California. / Source: Getty Images
As an environmentalist, the producer had a vision. He and his spouse built the split-level house to make a statement, and people did not receive it well, as Weaver revealed:
“People said we were going to live in a garbage house. Now, when they see the finished product, their minds change.”
Weaver spoke at the United Nations and Congress and to college students and school children about tackling pollution and starvation.
Dennis Weaver and Gerry Stowell during CBS at 75 at Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City, New York. / Source: Getty Images
"Earthship" was the most visible of his campaigns because of the materials for the house. Jay Leno once stated, "When the garbage man comes, how does he know where the garbage begins, and the house ends?
In response, Weaver said: "If we get into the mindset of saving rather than wasting and utilizing other materials, we can save the Earth."
Dennis Weaver and Gerry Stowell presenting his new book during Golden Apple Awards Luncheon at Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. / Source: Getty Images
THEIR SECRETS TO LONGEVITY IN MARRIAGE
When coming to the secret of their everlasting marriage, Weaver once revealed there were many of them while stating it was not a competition of longevity.
He said the length of the union had little to do with its success and explained that even though people usually applaud a couple for celebrating their fiftieth anniversary, the love in their relationship may have died years earlier.
Gerry Stowell and her husband Dennis Weaver at the American Film Institute's Lifetime Achievement Award celebration in 1995. / Source: Getty Images
He noted that by nature of marriage, seeing that a husband and wife live in such proximity, it was by far life's most critical relationship, and the one that provided a chance to each party to express the purpose of life, which was love to be loved, adding:
“Any marriage that does not have mutual usefulness as its foundation will be difficult.”
Dennis Weaver and his wife pose at the premiere of "Why Are We Here?" the Public Awareness Campaign on November 15, 2000 in Los Angeles, California. / Source: Getty Images
Weaver made an example of the word 'allow,' saying it had significance in any relationship. "When we truly love someone, we allow them their own thoughts, interests, and space. We give each other room to breathe," he continued.
The TV legend emphasized that no one person could satisfy all the needs of another and was unrealistic. He said people should not expect such perfection because they would be disappointed:
“Gerry and I developed an understanding of each other, a feeling of compassion and patience that has run quiet and deep. We enjoy our sense of freedom...”
"Be happy with yourself. Be content with who you are...express your love in thought, word, and action. Let your partner and the world know that you are the lover of all lovers," he added.
Dennis Weaver and Gerry Stowell during Fundraiser for L.I.F.E. at Gallagher's Restaurant on February 11, 1986 in Los Angeles, California. / Source: Getty Images
WEAVER DIED IN HIS WIFE'S LAP
Career-wise, the father of three continued to act and exercise his activism even after being diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1991.
When cancer returned after being in remission, Weaver was in an ABC Family series called "Wildfire," which played from 2005 to 2008.
Sadly, he passed away on February 24, 2006, and his wife revealed: "I was alone with Dennis when he died, and he just fell over into my lap, very quickly. He left in a peaceful way."
Dennis Weaver during The 8th Annual PRISM Awards at Hollywood Palladium in Hollywood, California. / Source: Getty Images
According to Stowell, her husband was optimistic about life overall: "There was never anybody with higher spirits than Dennis," she said of the father of her children who died at age 81.
Since his death, it was up to her to carry on his legacy and dreams for Sunridge. The mom of three was the steward who screened potential buyers of their dream home and estate.
She ensured that realtor Todd Schroedel stated that the land and home remained a legacy to her beloved spouse and his dreams of sustainability for the earth.
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