Dennis Weaver's first movie featured four other future TV stars including James Arness
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Before he starred as the lovable Chester Goode on the first nine seasons of the long-running TV western Gunsmoke, Dennis Weaver was a contract player at Universal making $125 a week to act in pretty much anything they wanted, even if it wasn't the best fit.
He told the Archive of American Television, "They wanted to get their money's worth and they put me in everything. It didn’t matter whether I was right for the part or not. I did 14 movies that one year."
Unbeknownst to him or anyone at the time, Weaver's very first Universal movie would prove to be unique in Hollywood history. It brought together five actors that would soon become household names for their work on popular television series, not to mention stars Rock Hudson, Robert Ryan and Julie Adams.
The movie was a post-Civil War Western called Horizons West. Future TV stars James Arness, John McIntire, Raymond Burr, Frances Bavier and, of course, Dennis Weaver filled out the supporting cast.
Arness and Weaver would reunite three years later to star on Gunsmoke. Five years after the film, Burr started playing his most famous role, the titular character in the classic courtroom drama Perry Mason. John McIntire, already a prolific actor, would later lead two popular western series, Wagon Train and The Virginian. Last but certainly not least, Frances Bavier would become everyone's favorite aunt, Aunt Bee, on The Andy Griffith Show.
Weaver also observed to the archive that because of his contract with Universal, he knew Westerns could end up playing a big part in his career.
"It sorta looked like it was leaning in that direction because Universal International was making one Western after another," he said.