Dennis Weaver couldn't stop limping on set after he left Gunsmoke
Weaver was taking his character home with him.
Sometimes an actor plays a character for so long, it can feel like it becomes a part of them, for better or for worse. It seems that if a role is played with enough tenacity and dedication, there is a piece of it that an actor carries with them long after the cameras stop rolling. For an actor like Dennis Weaver, there was one part of Chester Goode on Gunsmoke that he simply couldn't seem to shake: his limp.
Weaver left the series after about nine years of playing Marshal Matt Dillon's second-in-command. But although Weaver was done with Chester Goode, Chester Goode wasn't done with Dennis Weaver.
According to James Arness: An Autobiography, Weaver confessed something to Arness after his time on the show was over. "Dennis later told me he had a heck of a time losing his limp after he left the show. On other shows when a director yelled 'action,' he'd automatically start to limp. It took him several months to walk normal when on camera."
In an interview with the St. Louis Post Dispatch, Weaver confessed that he had decided to leave the series because he felt that the character had run its course. Specifically, he said, "After almost ten years, I want to walk without a limp."
Arness also commented on Weaver's departure in his book, noting that it was bittersweet. He wrote, "I was particularly sorry to see Dennis leave us since he'd become such an integral part of our seamless theatrical family... I clearly understood his desire to move on, though, and it turned out to be a wise choice on his part."
Still, Arness was grateful for the time that he had spent with Weaver, and as the lead of Gunsmoke, he even confessed that Chester Goode was a star in his own way. He wrote, "His [Weaver's] portrayal of Matt's sidekick, deputy Chester Goode, was superb. I often found myself playing second fiddle to him when he would appear limping along beside me or enacting his famous twangy call, 'Mr. Dillon.'"