Dennis Weaver


What do Manteca and "Gunsmoke" have in common? The answer: a young man who grew up to repeatedly exclaim, "Marshall Dillon, Marshall Dillon" and win an Emmy Award.

Dennis Weaver stayed in Manteca from 1934 until 1939, having been born in Joplin, Missouri in 1924. The Dust Bowl inspired his family to come to Manteca to find work in packing sheds during harvest season to earn money and then return annually to Joplin.

In his autobiography (All the World’s a Stage), Dennis wrote of Manteca, “We were able to rent the old Duval house at the edge of town. The move to the Duval house proved to have an unpredictably strong effect on my life.” His friendship with neighbor George Hogrefe led to him attending 8th grade in Manteca and working with George to clean the El Rey Theater to make enough for room and board and pocket change. The El Rey proved to be his first strong association with movies which eventually led him into the acting profession.

He enlisted in the Navy Air Corps and was discharged as a pilot in 1945. He was married to his soul mate Gerry Stowell soon thereafter. He dropped out of the University of Oklahoma (where he was an outstanding track athlete) to pursue an acting career n New York City.

His stage experience led to television where he went to become an icon starring in Gunsmoke, McCloud, Gentle Ben, and The Buck James Television Series.