Dennis Weaver was born Billy Dennis Weaver on June 4, 1924 in Joplin, Missouri. He grew up during the Depression, working on the family farm, and later they traveled to California and Oregon to work. Dennis was a football, baskeball, and track star in Joplin Junior College. During World War II, he served as a Navy pilot. After the war, he returned to school, graduating from the University of Oklahoma at Norman with a degree in Fine Arts and Theater. While at the university, he was chosen for the 1948 United States Olympic Trials, where he finished 6th in the decathlon.
From boyhood, Dennis wanted to be an actor. After graduation, he went to New York City to try acting. Because there was another "Bill" Weaver, Equity insisted he use another name; he chose his middle name, Dennis.
He began as a stage actor, supporting the family by selling vacuum cleaners, tricycles and women's hosiery. In 1945, Dennis had married his childhood sweetheart, Gerry Stowell. They later had three sons, Rick, Robert, and Rusty. During the early acting years, Dennis and Gerry took an active role in raising their children. Never part of the wild Hollywood crowd, Dennis, a vegetarian, a student of Yoga and Meditation, and speaker at Self Realization Fellowship, devoted his life to helping others and making this a better world to live in. Although perhaps best known as an actor, what he hoped most to be remembered for, was his tireless his work in fostering sustainability of our planet.
Music was always a big part of the Weaver's lives. Over the years Gerry and Dennis, a singer and songwriter, performed together, often on stage with their sons as well. All five of them are talented performers.
Dennis Weaver, actor, humanitarian, and pioneer environmentalist, succumbed to complications from cancer February 2006 at age 81. Surviving him are his wife, Gerry, and their three sons, Rick, Rob, and Rusty, and three grandchildren, Jennifer, Brandon, Travis, and Jess.
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