Rule of Three Still Holds


Peter Bagge notes that my dismissal of the three-death cluster rule for celebrities was too easy. Dennis Weaver, veteran player of rugged but wimpy lead and supporting roles, has gone up to that high-speed backroads chase in the sky. TV oldsters recall Weaver as sidekick Chester on Gunsmoke, the gentle dad in the Clint Howard vehicle Gentle Ben, and urban cowboy detective Sam McCloud, but the role he's now best known for is the harried commercial traveler in the young Steven Spielberg's Duel. My favorite Weaver role, though, is a reprise of the Duel part: In 1973's Terror On the Beach, he takes drippy passivity to new levels as a vacationing dad whose family is menaced by hippies in dune buggies; every time the family is on the verge of defeating or escaping the hippies, Weaver stops to make a painfully pre-9/11 plea along the lines of: "Please! Leave us alone! We haven't done anything to you," and the action starts all over again. Weaver's AP obituary features this choice passage of Liptonian regard for the actor's craft:

When Weaver first auditioned for the series, he found the character of Chester "inane." He wrote in his 2001 autobiography, "All the World's a Stage," that he said to himself: "With all my Actors Studio training, I'll correct this character by using my own experiences and drawing from myself."

Anyway, that's three. Anthony Zerbe, you can relax now.

NEXT: Poor Little Rich Kids

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  1. You left out Weaver’s memorable turn as a pre-Perkins creepy motel manager in Touch of Evil.

  2. I was a Gentle Ben fan when I was a kid. How cool is it to grow up with an airboat and a bear?

    I remember Weaver in Touch of Evil, too. Oddly enough, I had the same reaction–there was something strangely “Tony Perkins” about the character (besides the obvious hotel manager connection).

  3. What if a fourth dies? 😛

  4. For me, his finest moment will always be “Cocaine: One Man’s Seduction” with a dreamy young James Spader as his son.

  5. I still can’t beleive that no one noticed that Andreas Katsulas died this month…

    COME ON! We’re talking about the One Armed Man, Admiral Tomulak, and Ambassador G’Kar for goodness sake!

  6. Peter Bagge notes it where??? I am starved for more Bagge work on Reason and cannot deal with the possibility that some of it may be just out of reach….


  8. Sandy,
    If a fourth dies, it is the start of a brand new three.

  9. Okay, who had him in the final leg of the Pick3? And what did it pay?

  10. I had Dick Button. Stiffed again.

  11. Did Octavia Butler die before or after Weaver? I’m pretty sure her accident happened prior to his death.

  12. “Peter Bagge notes it where???”

    I was simply waiting for the 3rd celeb to choke — because they always do! — and then rub it in Tim’s face via private email as soon as the news of Weaver’s death apeared on my home page.

    “…the Clint Howard vehicle Gentle Ben…”

    A “Clint Howard vehicle”: what a thought! Long may Clint live, however.

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