Monday, February 27, 2006

Dennis Weaver (1924-2006)

God! This week is turning out to be a total bummer.

Before I update the blog every day, I usually take a look at the headlines on the Columbus Dispatch's homepage to see if there's anything going on that I might want to comment sagely on. Well, today I see that Dennis Weaver died on Friday, his death coming on the same day as the passings of Don Knotts and Darren McGavin, which hit the news yesterday.
I see that all the obits have headlines identifying Weaver as a star of Gunsmoke, on which he starred as Chester, a deputy of James Arness' Matt Dillon, which is probably how people of my mother's generation will always remember him. For me, and I would suspect most people my age (I'm 40, by the way), he is best known as fish out of water lawman Sam McCloud, a New Mexico Marshall on "special duty" in New York City. The image that sticks in my mind is of McCloud on horseback weaving in and out of the congested New York traffic. A scene like that occurred in every episode and neatly visualized the clash of cultures that was the core of the show's premise and, I suspect, it's appeal to viewers.
In McCloud, Weaver created one of the few truly unique characters in the annals of TV detectives, and even if he hadn't also contributed to the success of TV's longest running primetime drama, that would be enough to earn him a place in TV heaven.

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