Environmentalist Actor Dennis Weaver dies

Hug a tree in memory of Dennis Weaver, dead at 81. As an actor he starred in successful TV series like Gunsmoke and McCloud, and also in the amazing early Spielberg production "Duel". As an environmentalist he made a documentary about alternative vehicles. He worked with Wille Nelson in promoting biofuels. He built a major earthship, a bit large for our taste but hey, he is an actor and they do that. He founded the Institute of Ecolonomics "to demonstrate that creating a symbiotic relationship between a strong economy and a healthy ecology is the only formula for a sustainable future". Dennis Weaver was one of the first major actors to speak out for the environment and put his money where his mouth was. ::DennisWeaver.comFrom Bloomberg News:

Weaver made his Broadway debut in ``Come Back, Little Sheba,'' in 1950 before signing with Universal Studios. He appeared two years later as Dandy Taylor in the 1952 version of ``Horizons West.''

He also starred in the 1971 TV classic ``Duel,'' directed by the then-unknown Steven Spielberg.

Weaver received two Emmy nominations for his portrayal of U.S. Marshal Sam McCloud in the TV series that aired from 1970 to 1977. He also was the voice of Buck McCoy in ``The Simpsons'' 2002 western-themed episode.

Recycled Tires and Tin Cans

In 2003, he starred in a documentary of his ``Drive to Survive,'' a caravan of alternative-fueled vehicles that traveled from Santa Monica, California, to Washington, D.C.

The trip was to promote his nonprofit Institute of Ecolonomics, a word Weaver made up by combining ecology and economics. He and his wife Gerry founded the organization in 1993 to save the planet from pollution.

His concern for the environment prompted him in 1989 to build his ``Earthship,'' a 10,000-square-foot solar-powered home built from about 3,000 recycled tires and 300,000 aluminum and tin cans in Ridgway, Colorado's Pleasant Valley. The home, called ``Sunridge'' is for sale for $3.8 million.

He also joined singer Willie Nelson to promote farmer-grown biodiesel as an alternative fuel.

Born in Joplin, Missouri, Weaver became a naval Air Corps pilot and then graduated with a fine arts degree from the University of Oklahoma. In 1948, he was a finalist in the decathlon in the U.S. Olympic Trials.