HomeAmerican Entertainment‘Dallas’ Star Charlene Tilton Reveals Why She Didn’t Feel Like a Sex Symbol in the 80s

‘Dallas’ Star Charlene Tilton Reveals Why She Didn’t Feel Like a Sex Symbol in the 80s

by Joe Rutland
charlene tilton dallas
Credit: Getty Images / CBS Photo Archive

Back in the 1980s, Charlene Tilton of Dallas fame was a true sex symbol yet now she says that she never felt “beautiful” at all. “I had no idea how beautiful I was,” Tilton told PEOPLE magazine in an interview published on Thursday. “I look back at pictures now and go, ‘I really was all that and a bag of chips!’ I really was pretty. But, back then, I didn’t get it.”

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Tilton made appearances on hundreds of magazine covers at the height of her fame. She played J.R. Ewing’s (Larry Hagman) conniving niece Lucy. Tilton, who now stars in the faith-based romance Heaven Sent, said she couldn’t help but compare herself to bombshells like Farrah Fawcett, Loni Anderson, and Suzanne Somers at that time.

Charlene Tilton of ‘Dallas’ Didn’t Think She Was ‘Anything Special’

“There were all kinds of beautiful women in Hollywood. I didn’t think I was anything special,” Tilton said to PEOPLE. She adds that she thought supermodel Iman was the “epitome” of beauty, Fox News reports. 

“I just remember wishing I looked like Iman, the model and David Bowie’s wife,” Charlene Tilton said. “She just has the most gorgeous bone structure and skin color and is tall and gorgeous. To me, she was the epitome of beauty. I was short, and when I gained five pounds, you could see it. And, believe me, it was mentioned in the press.

Tilton Is Now Getting A Chance To Do Character Actor Type Of Work

“I’m curvy. (and) I’m not tall and thin. I’m not elegant, I’m spunky,” she said. Charlene Tilton adds that she always wanted to be a character actress. These days, she gets to do that in her 60s with the movies she’s made over the last few years, like A Welcome Home Christmas and Starting up Love

She said that she’s “comfortable and content” with her life in Nashville. She lives near her daughter, country singer Cherish Lee, and her two grandsons.

“The older I get, I’ve learned to be more present in the day-to-day,” Tilton said. “When I was on Dallas, it was such a whirlwind. At my age now, I’m more present. I don’t feel the need to take every job, but I do make myself say yes to most things because I believe in saying yes and trying new things and having opportunities. What I love about the age I am now is it brings different characters.”

At its height, Dallas was one of the most popular primetime soap operas on TV. Hagman’s J.R. Ewing character had many people watching to see what he would do next. Tilton gained a lot of viewers’ attention at that time.