‘Dallas’: Stars Couldn’t Reveal ‘Who Shot J.R.’ Twist, Not Even to Gerald Ford and Queen Elizabeth

by Atlanta Northcutt

A very important question echoed across the globe with politicians, royals, and the general public desperately needing to know “Who Shot J.R.” on the long-running television soap opera “Dallas.” No spoilers will be revealed.

“Who Shot J.R.?”

J.R. Ewing is by far the most popular character on the CBS series which ran from 1978 to 1991. The late actor Larry Hagman plays the role of J.R., who is the eldest son of the family.

J.R. is well-known for being ruthless, heartless, and greedy while he runs the family’s million-dollar oil business. He is loved for being notoriously hated.

In the March 1980 season 3 finale, the oil tycoon is shot twice by an unknown culprit outside of his office. Fans across the world lost their minds in a desperate attempt to learn “Who shot J.R.?”

The answer to the major cliffhanger is finally revealed in the fourth episode of the fourth season which aired in November. Approximately 83 million American viewers and an astounding number of 350 million from around the world anxiously tuned in.

Even Cast Members Weren’t Told Who the Shooter Is

The question became so important the assailant wasn’t even revealed to the cast. In fact, each of the show’s characters shot their own “I shot J.R.” revelation scene in case they were, in fact, the shooter.

“On the set, everybody got to shoot J. R.,” actress Mary Crosby, who plays J.R.’s sister-in-law and mistress J.R.’s mistress, told Texas Monthly in a 2018 interview. “Including the producers, including Larry, including the makeup artists, the continuity people. Everybody got to shoot him because they wanted the actual shooter to be kept a secret.”

“We had no idea who shot him,” adds producer David Paulsen. “The producers just put a gun in the hands of many people, and [showrunner Leonard] Katzman would figure out later who it was.”

To not give cast members the inside information appears to be the best choice. The actors endured countless questioned from all types of fans. From a random passerby on the street to the Queen of England, people from every walk of life need to know the answer.

“I was filming a miniseries in England, where shops across the country literally closed up just so people could watch “Dallas,” says Crosby. “Some guy who sold munitions to Third World countries offered me a million dollars to tell him who shot J. R.”

American and English Royalty Search for the Truth

Larry Harman’s autobiography Hello Darlin’: Tall (and Absolutely True) Tales About My Life reveals which powerful people yearned to know. Queen Elizabeth of England even asked him about the shooting. He came to her birthday celebration in order to sing to the Queen. However, her main focus was on “Who shot J.R.?”

“Then I got to the Queen Mother, who said, ‘Now I want you to tell me, young man, who shot J.R.?’” he writes.

Hagman was forced to explain to Queen Elizabeth how he couldn’t reveal the answer.

“Not even for you, ma’am,” he apologized

The Queen isn’t the only one to try to squeeze the answer out of the cast and crew. So did a former president.

“One of the stars, I forget who, called Leonard Katzman and said, ‘Listen, I’m on the golf links with ex-President [Gerald] Ford,’” states Paulsen. “He wants to know who shot J. R.’ Leonard said, ‘Can’t tell him.’ … He got back on the line and said, ‘Len, he said to tell you that he used to be President of the United States. He can keep a secret.’ Leonard said, ‘I can’t tell him.’”

“Who Done It”

The episode “Who Done It” became the second highest-rated primetime episode ranking just behind the finale of M*A*S*H.

If you don’t already know who actually shot J.R., be prepared to binge-watch “Dallas.” Discover who the true bad guy or gal is.