‘Gunsmoke’: Why Dennis Weaver Auditioned Twice for the Iconic Western Series

by Joe Rutland
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Dennis Weaver really wanted to be a part of “Gunsmoke.” Heck, he wanted a role so bad that he didn’t mind auditioning twice for producers.

Why did he do it? As the story goes, Weaver felt like his first audition was not that good. He went to “Gunsmoke” casting directors and asked for a second chance. He got it. Weaver then added a little touch of a Southern accent and won the role of Chester Goode.

Weaver was part of the initial “Gunsmoke” cast that blasted its way on to CBS in 1955. He played the role, which he enhanced with a little bit of a limp, for nine seasons. Weaver left the show in 1964. It would not be the last iconic TV role for him to play.

Weaver Played ‘McCloud’ Years After ‘Gunsmoke’ Role

When NBC started its “Sunday Mystery Movie” series, Weaver appeared as U.S. Marshal Sam McCloud in “McCloud.” The show ran from 1970-77 in which Weaver’s character had a specific catch-phrase, “There you go,” that became popular.

Weaver died from prostate cancer on Feb. 24, 2006. He was 81 years old.

Looking back upon his “Gunsmoke” days, Weaver’s character Chester never appeared on screen with a gun. Now that seems rather strange since the show takes place in Dodge City, where gunfights were about as regular as sneezes.

Nevertheless, Chester didn’t carry a gun because show producers wanted him to be non-violent. Weaver played the sidekick role to James Arness’ Matt Dillon.

Adding Limp To Character Became Big Regret For Actor

Weaver would, at times, be in places where people would ask him questions about playing Chester.

One of those times had him saying that he regretted giving his character a limp, which we mentioned earlier in this article.

Again, it was Weaver’s idea to give his character a limp. Why did he regret the decision? Week after week, he had to fake a limp on the show’s set.

That takes a lot of physical effort to pull off successfully. Weaver didn’t realize how much work would be involved in doing so. Once he did, though, giving Chester a limp quickly became a major regret of his on “Gunsmoke”

Outsider.com