Linda Gray, who played Sue Ellen Ewing in CBS’s classic drama “Dallas,” was leaving after being fired until a co-star saved the day.
Let’s set the stage for what was going down, according to an article in the Daily Mail. Gray did spend a lot of time building up her Sue Ellen character, one that was beloved by many “Dallas” fans. As she was focusing on her career, Gray’s private life was falling apart.
A long, abusive marriage was coming to an end and Linda Gray kept focusing on her work. What she did with Sue Ellen is take it far beyond what the show’s writers originally had her become.
“I remember looking at J.R. (actor Larry Hagman) and thinking, ‘Who in hell would marry that idiot?'” Gray said. “Then realizing, ‘It’s you, babe. What are you going to do about it?'”
Linda Gray Started Changing Things About Sue Ellen
Gray says Sue Ellen could have remained “a b*tch in the way the part was written.” She tossed in a little vulnerability to the “Dallas” character.
‘I fought with the writers and producers to get her out of the drinking and the affairs,” Gray says. Then she adds that she didn’t want to be stuck in that type of role.
Now Hagman and co-star Patrick Duffy were getting a chance to direct “Dallas” episodes. Obviously, Gray wanted the same shot. Executive producer Leonard Katzman said no.
Larry Hagman Intervenes, Saves Gray’s Job On ‘Dallas’
Who saves her job? Would you believe the same guy who had to hear “Who shot J.R.?” questions after an infamous episode?
It ends up being Hagman, a veteran of TV work thanks to “I Dream Of Jeannie,” who put in a word.
Also, Gray remembers that “I pushed really hard…and I got fired. Then Larry came to my defense.
“He said, ‘If she goes, I go,'” Gray said. “I knew Larry well enough to know that he wouldn’t have gone, but it sounded good.”
The threats worked. Gray regained her job, and, smashing her own glass ceiling, directed four highly-rated “Dallas” episodes.
Looking back on the experience, Gray says, “I absolutely loved it and I was proud of myself for pushing through.”