Dennis Weaver was shocked when his new series wasn't as successful as ''Gunsmoke''

Weaver had to discover who he was without Gunsmoke.

Popular television shows are powerful and elusive. Arguably, no sooner does any audience know that a show is destined for greatness than the actors who are starring in it, or even the networks putting it on. Still, sometimes you can have all the right ingredients for something great, and a series can still end up as a flop.

Such was the case when Dennis Weaver left Gunsmoke to star in his new series, Kentucky Jones. The series would be canceled after only one season, but Weaver had such faith in it at the beginning that he was willing to leave an already ridiculously popular series to start one anew.

Weaver discussed his departure from Gunsmoke in his autobiography, All the World's a Stage. He wrote, "I felt at the time that if I didn't break loose, I would never play anything else the rest of my acting career." Weaver also described his primary motivation for leaving the show, which was a desire to finally be at the forefront of his own series. He wrote, "If I was ever going to have an opportunity to do what I really got into the business to do —  to play a leading man with the responsibility of the show on my own shoulders — I had to break loose."

Weaver stressed that everything that the new series could do right, it did. He had complete faith in it as well, and wrote, "I thought it would be a winner...all the elements were there — but after we shot the twenty-four shows, they canceled it."

Weaver described his mindset and said, "I was in shock. I just assumed the next series I did would be as successful as Gunsmoke, but it wasn't." 

The experience served as a wake-up call for Weaver, who found himself asking, "Was I totally stupid to leave the security of Gunsmoke?" Obviously, we know that wasn't the case, and that thankfully, Weaver was able to enjoy plentiful success as an actor, despite this small hiccup. In hindsight, there was an important lesson to be learned throughout all of it, and Weaver was able to mature as a person. He summarized, "I realized there was life after Gunsmoke."

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18 Comments

Snickers 2 months ago
I remember McCloud, kind of a cowboy cop in New York City series.
Jerryfan 2 months ago
He was a great actor! I dug him in pretty much everything he was in.
Snickers Jerryfan 2 months ago
Then I take it your a fan of the movie Duel?
FloridaTopCat 2 months ago
Love McCloud! Great "Fish Out of Water" series, with midwestern born Dennis as Sam McCloud from New Mexico, fitting in with the NYC police and the episodes mostly all set in 1970's NYC. Curiously, It aired in the same rotation as Columbo, who was born in New York but they NEVER used that in a single episode, where the Lieutenant was just always with the LAPD! And with the re-start of Columbo in the 90's, that came to over 35 years!
LoveMETV22 2 months ago
Liked Weaver in his role on Gunsmoke. He was good on McCloud as well, wish they had made more episodes of that series during its span.
Bama1927 2 months ago
Mr. Weaver did good for himself with McCoud. I'm sure there were other movies he played in. He did good to break away from "Chester" because he had talent. To be honest, Miss Kitty, Festus, and Doc would have been successful outside of GUNSMOKE. People don't realize that these people were very talented actors and that's why the show was a success. Look at Burt Reynolds.
cperrynaples Bama1927 2 months ago
I do think it's strange that Weaver NEVER did any of the Gunsmoke movies even though he was still alive when they were made!
jmworacle 2 months ago
Sometimes people think the grass is greener on the other side only learn the hard truth. Dennis Weaver did manage to bounce back with McCloud.
Andybandit 2 months ago
I never of Kentucky Jones. I heard of McCloud but never watched it.
ajmcclung 2 months ago
I don't remember Kentucky Jones, but he actually did several good parts - and he definitely achieved his own fame as McCloud, that was pretty good on on it's own!
Runeshaper 2 months ago
I understand why Weaver wanted to leave, but if he could’ve seen the future, he may not have made that choice.
jmworacle Runeshaper 2 months ago
Shelly Long thought she was too good for Cheers. In my opinion, it got better with Kristie Alley.
cperrynaples jmworacle 2 months ago
Many would disagree! Kelsey Grammer said he hated Kirstie which is why she never on Frasier!
cperrynaples cperrynaples 2 months ago
WAS never! Another mistake!
McGillahooala 2 months ago
"Was I totally stupid to leave the security of Gunsmoke?" Yes Dennis, I would say so.
WGH McGillahooala 2 months ago
Nope.

I'm sure he made way more money as the lead in the cloud, and doing various movies that he did, like the iconic DUEL.
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