Gunsmoke

GUNSMOKE/CBS/1955-75 (Crippled Right Leg)

Chester Goode (Dennis Weaver), frontier deputy living in Dodge City who walked with a pronounced limp (his right leg was as stiff as a post). When searching for the town marshal, Matt Dillon , Chester shouted his catchphrase “Mister Dillon, Mister Dillon.”

gunsmoke-chester-goode-dennis-weaver

James Arness as Marshall Dillon with Dennis Weaver as Chester Goode

The idea of making Chester handicapped came from Dennis Weaver. He proposed the idea to the show’s producers and they told him OK go ahead and do it. But upon reflecting on the role Weaver confessed “If I had known at the time I would be walking stiff-legged for nine years, I would have thought twice about it. Did you ever try to make a fire with a stiff leg or put a boot on. It’s tough to do.” Weaver had to take Yoga lessons to keep himself in condition for the job.

According to a video remembrance of Dennis Weaver:

“Traditionally, the sidekick is too old, too young, too fat to get involved with the fights.” Therefore, the producers of the show wanted Weaver’s character to be non-violent and that he would not carry a gun. Weaver thought about the character line and decided that maybe if his knee was frozen, a stiff leg would help define his character as a sidekick. After proposing the idea to the producers and getting their approval, Weaver began to practice walking stiff legged for the part. Years later, reflecting on the idea of a handicapped character, Weaver lamented “If I had known I was going to have to walk stiff-legged for nine years, I might have never suggested the idea. Did you ever try to build a fire with a stiff leg? Why I had to take Yoga lessons to be able to do the things I did. It‘s tough to do.”

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