Dallas actress Linda Gray once shared how her late costar Larry Hagman took up for her behind the scenes of the popular series.
“In the 80s, I was getting bored Sue Ellen Ewing as an actor,” Gray told Oprah. “She was drinking and having an affair, or having an affair and drinking, so I had two notes to play. I had always wanted to direct, so I think year eight it was, I approached the production staff, and I said I would like to direct one episode in the next two-year cycle. And they said, ‘Nope.’ I said, ‘I don’t want any more money, I don’t want anything–I would just like to direct. I feel like I’m ready; I’d like to direct one episode.’ ‘Nope.'”
Despite the simplicity of her request, the production staff rejected Gray numerous times. As a result, the conflict came to a head in 1986.
“This went back and forth,” Gray continued. “So then I wasn’t invited back for year nine. Because if that was my only request, they didn’t want me back. Mr. Hagman took a deep breath and said, ‘Well, now…’ This is what he tells me he said to them, ‘If Miss Gray is not coming back, I am not coming back.'”
Ultimately, Gray directed five episodes of the show. These included “The Great Texas Waltz,” “Brotherly Love,” “Revenge of the Nerd,” “Just Desserts,” and “Things Ain’t Going So Good at Southfork again.” She never directed outside of Dallas.
“Knowing Larry the way I do, Larry probably never said that because he would always go back and play J.R. Ewing, with or without me,” Gray clarified. “But it sounded good, and it made me feel good. He did go and talk to the producers, and he said, ‘Well for god sakes, let her direct one.’ I thought they probably said, ‘Alright, for god sakes, let her direct one.’ “
Dallas Star Linda Gray on ‘Who Shot J.R.?’
Additionally, Hamilton discussed the legacy of Dallas. The series ran from 1978 to 1991. It amassed an incredibly devoted fanbase. This was in large part due to the iconic mystery that was “Who Shot J.R.?”
The whole phenomenon started when J.R. Ewing was shot outside of his office at the end of the third season. The entire hiatus saw guessing the culprit, and every character on the show had a motive. To maintain secrecy, the producers of the show had each actor film a scene where they shoot J.R., including Hagman. T-shirts that said “I Shot J.R.” became incredibly popular, and the 1980 presidential election featured a slogan that said “A Democrat shot J.R.” The episode went on to become the second highest-rated television episode of all time.
“During that time, we didn’t have TiVo,” explained Gray. “We didn’t have VCR. There were three networks, and that’s it. Now it’s a whole different game. It was lovely to be a part of TV history like that.”