Hollywood Gothique
The Archive

Dennis Weaver, RIP

Veteran actor Dennis Weaver, probably best rememberd for his starring role in the television series McCLOUD, died Friday at his home in Colorado; he was eighty-one years old.

Although not a genre star, he did appear in an episode of the classic TWLIGHT ZONE television series “Shadow Play.” Moire importantly, he may be the spiritual godfather of PSYCHO’s Norman Bates.

In Orson Welles’ TOUCH OF EVIL, Weaver played a bizarre, self-described “night man” at a motel where Janet Leigh stays. His nervous mannerisms and strange behavior make him at once comical and vaguely threatening, and the fact that he is giving this performance opposite Leigh (who starred as the ill-fated Mairon Crane in Alfred Hitchcock’s PSYCHO) makes it seem as if he is doing a parody of Anthony Perkins performance in that classic horror film.

Only one problem with this impression: TOUCH OF EVIL came out in 1958 — two years before PSYCHO. If anything, Hitchcock was taking a small sequence from the Welles film and riffing on it, turning it into an entire feature.

Weaver’s other credits include roles in GUNSMOKE and GENTLE BEN. Most often cast in Western type roles, his most recent appearances were on ABC’s short-lived series THE BEAST and on TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL and WILDFIRE.