Dennis Weaver

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Dennis Weaver, who played deputy Chester Goode in the TV western “Gunsmoke” and the New Mexico deputy solving crime in New York in “McCloud,” died Friday of complications from cancer at his home in Colorado. He was 81.

Weaver, who lived with his wife, Gerry, in Malibu for 23 years, starred in “Gunsmoke” from 1955 to 1964 and in “McCloud” from 1970 to 1977 and was the daily host of Starz’s Encore Western for eight years.

Weaver served as the president of the Screen Actors Guild from 1973 to 1975 and was an activist for defeating world hunger and protecting the environment.

He served as president of Love is Feeding Everyone, which fed 150,000 needy people every week in Los Angeles County.

He also founded the Institute of Ecolonomics, to seek solutions to economic and environmental problems.

One of Weaver’s most well-known environmental friendly missions was his “Earthship,” a 9,500-square-foot, solar-powered home he and his wife built on 20 acres in Ridgway, Colorado out of recycled tires and cans.

The “trash” can hold temperatures like a thermal battery and the three-foot thick walls built of earth and tires also add to the thermal mass, proving energy efficient.

“The whole community thought we were bonkers,” Weaver told Malibu Times Magazine in an interview for the September/October 2005 issue. “But the people who sell the tires were ecstatic. When it’s zero outside, it never gets below 57 degrees inside.”

Weaver was born June 4, 1924, in Joplin, Mo., where he excelled in high school drama and athletics. He attended the University of Oklahoma after serving in the Navy in World War II. Weaver studied at the Actors Studio in New York and appeared in several movies and TV movies throughout his life, including “A Streetcar Named Desire,” “Duel,” “Dragnet” and “Touch of Evil.”

Weaver and his wife had recently moved to Ridgway to live full-time.

“(We will be) getting back to our (Missouri) roots, do a little gardening and be more self-contained,” Weaver told Malibu Times Magazine before the move.

Weaver is survived by his wife, Gerry; sons Rick, Robby and Rusty; and three grandchildren.