Dallas fans, splash a bit of branch water into your bourbon. We’re headed to Southfork.
You remember Dallas, the primetime soap opera that centered around the Ewing clan. You know the details about how wildcatters Jock Ewing and Digger Barnes struck oil in the 1930s. And you know how the Ewing family, living at their Southfork ranch, was the most famous clan in Dallas.
J.R. Ewing was the delicious villain everyone loved to hate. J.R. also was the king of Dallas and ruler of the oil business.
The motto J.R. lived by? “Once you get rid of integrity, the rest is a piece of cake.”
We’re going to dig around and see where all our favorite characters are now. But to put you in the proper mood for this trek down to Texas, listen to one of the best theme songs in TV history.
J.R. Left Dallas And This Earth In 2012
Alas, Larry Hagman, the Texas native who played J.R., left this earth, Nov. 23, 2012. No one could deliver a line like Hagman as J.R. Ewing, the oldest son of Jock and Miss Ellie. Hagman played J.R. for all the show’s run, including the first season of a reboot. The original show ran from 1978-91. Hagman, as J.R., was the only actor who appeared in every Dallas episode.
J.R. Ewing was such a classic TV character that 83 million people tuned in to find out who shot him in 1980. That translated into 76 percent of American homes flipping on the TV to learn that it was his sister-in-law, played by Mary Frances Crosby, the daughter of Bing Crosby. When Hagman died, the show reboot had to write off J.R.
Turns out J.R. had terminal cancer. He hired someone to kill him and set up Cliff Barnes for the murder.
The actors who played Jock and Miss Ellie also died. Jim Davis, who played Jock, died in real life and on the show in 1981. Barbara Bel Geddes passed away in 2005.
Another show villain also died. Cliff Barnes and J.R. Ewing butted heads so many times. J.R. always could one-up him. Ken Kercheval, who played Cliff, died in April, 2019.
So what about the characters/actors who still are very much alive?
Patrick Duffy, aka Bobby Ewing On Dallas Found Love Again After Wife Died
Patrick Duffy, who played J.R.’s brother, Bobby, is doing well and dating actress Linda Purl. When Dallas ended, Duffy starred on the sitcom “Step By Step.” He’s still acting, showing up in episodes of “All Rise” and “NCIS.” He was part of the Dallas reboot on TNT.
He lost in wife of 34 years in 2017. He started dating Purl last year, telling Page Six:
“We’re not covering any ground that has not been trodden in both our lives for years and years…For me, it’s not a do-over, it’s a do-again,” Duffy said, “because the first one was perfect and this one is also perfect.”
Where Is Sue Ellen Otherwise Known As Linda Gray?
Linda Gray, who played Sue Ellen Ewing, J.R.’s wife, still is beautiful. In the reboot, Sue Ellen was in such control of her life that she ran a business in Dallas and was running for governor of Texas. She was a drunk mess the first time around.
Gray did some TV work after her life in Dallas as Sue Ellen. She also did stage work. She portrayed Mrs. Robinson in a London production of “The Graduate,” which moved to Broadway for a year-long run. She even played the fairy godmother in a London production of Cinderella.
Victoria Principal Is a Businesswoman
Victoria Principal played the beautiful Pamela Barnes Ewing. She was Cliff Barnes’ sister. And Bobby being married to Pam didn’t go over too well with J.R. The two eloped on the opening episode of Dallas back in 1978.
Post-Dallas, Principal was more businesswoman than actress. She started her own production company and created her own line of skincare. And she wrote about beauty and well-being with three best-selling books. Principal even dabbled in music, releasing a duet with then-boyfriend Andy Gibbs.
Updates on Ray, Gary and Lucy
Steve Kanaly played Ray Krebs, the Southfork foreman, who turned out to be the illegitimate son of Jock. He also dated Pam before she found true love with Bobby. Kanaly was popular, post-Dallas, popping up in episodes of “Fantasy Island,” “Hotel” and “Love Boat.” Kanaly also was an artist and he even was featured in a commercial for the NRA.
Two actors played the character Gary Ewing, the middle son of Jock and Miss Ellie. But most fans know Gary as Ted Shackelford. Gary Ewing didn’t show up in a ton of Dallas episodes. Rather, he starred in the Dallas spinoff “Knots Landing.” On the show, he was the husband of Valene. Gary also was the long-distance dad of Lucy Ewing.
Charlene Tilton played Lucy, the teen-aged niece of J.R. and Bobby. In real life, she was close to Larry Hagman, who she considered a surrogate dad. She married country star Johnny Lee, who sang “Lookin’ For Love In All The Wrong Places” from the movie “Urban Cowboy.” Tilton guest-starred in numerous TV shows, but never found another consistent TV gig.
And What About Jenna Wade?
Priscilla Presley, Elvis’ ex wife, even had a good run on show. She was the third actress to play Jenna Wade, Bobby Ewing’s first love. But Jenna ditched Bobby at the altar. The two got together again. And once again, Jenna dumped Bobby on their wedding day. Because Dallas was a soap opera, the pair got engaged a third time. But this time, Bobby dumped Jenna and returned to Pam.
Presley had several juicy parts throughout her acting career. However, her last credit was playing herself in the movie “Wedding at Graceland.”
And we’ll finish up this trip to Southfork with another J.R. classic. You can use it in real life.
“Like my Daddy always said: if you can’t get in the front door, just go around to the back.”