For television audiences in the 80s, the lives of two Texan families at war over love and oil proved compelling viewing.
The racy drama made soap history when it consigned an entire ninth series to dreamland – after a killed-off Bobby Ewing, played by now 69-year-old Patrick Duffy, left viewers agog by coming back to life at the start of the tenth series; his death put down to a nightmare suffered by his wife Pamela.
As the show celebrates 40 years since it first aired in 1978, many of its most famous faces – including Jock Ewing (Jim Davis), JR Ewing (Larry Hagman) and Miss Ellie (Barbara Bel Geddes) have tripped off this mortal coil.
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Eighties icons! Dallas, created by David Jacobs, focused on the Ewing family and first aired in 1978, quickly making household names of its stars (Pictured: Back row: Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Victoria Principal (Pamela Barnes Ewing), Barbara Bel Geddes (Eleanor ‘Miss Ellie’ Southworth Ewing), Larry Hagman (John Ross ‘J.R.’ Ewing, Jr.) Front row: Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing Cooper), Jim Davis (John Ross ‘Jock’ Ewing, Sr.) & Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing))
Family affiar: Patrick Duffy, left, and Larry Hagman played two of the stand-out characters on the show as Bobby and JR Ewing, the polar opposite brothers who were often at odds at how their business should be run
Duffy, now 69, was spotted earlier this week with a grey beard and hair on German television, leaving some fans struggling to believe just how long ago the series first aired
The show ran from 1978 to 1991 and made household names of most of its stars, after a global audience of around 350million tuned in weekly to watch the fortunes of oil barons the Ewing family, who lived at Southfork Ranch, play out on screen – including their bitter feud with rival family, the Barnes.
Aside from Bobby’s rebirth, other moments that left audiences glued to their screens included ‘Who shot JR?’, a seminal plot-line that saw many of the Ewing and Barnes family suspects in the murder of the patriarchal cowboy. The episode, which aired on November 21st, 1980, became the most-watched episode in the show’s history.
As new images of Patrick Duffy sporting a silver-streaked pony tail as he prepares to celebrate his 70th year, we find out how the lives and careers of the show’s other key characters panned out.
The cast of Dallas pictured on the set of the ‘Southfork Ranch’ in Texas in 1979. Pictured from left: Steve Kanaly as Ray Krebbs, Patrick Duffy as Bobby Ewing, Victoria Principal as Pamels Barnes Ewing, (sitting), Barbara Bel Geddes as Eleanor Southworth ‘Miss Ellie’ Ewing, Jim Davis as John Ross ‘Jock’ Ewing, Larry Hagman as John Ross ‘J.R.’ Ewing, Jr, Charlene Tilton as Lucy Ewing (in red), and Linda Gray as Sue Ellen Ewing
One of the most controversial moments in the show was Bobby’s death, pictured, in the hands of wife Pamela in 1985, that was revealed to have just been her dream one year later
JOHN ROSS ‘JR’ EWING: LARRY HAGMAN
Distinctive look: Larry Hagman played JR (left) in every single episode of Dallas’ original run, and then returned in 2012 to play the much older but still scheming version of the character in the reboot
The most famous, and infamous, of the Ewing clan, Larry Hagman appeared as JR in every one of the series’ 356 episodes as well as several spin-off versions, including the recent reboot of the series which ran from 2012 to 2014.
His character was famously shot in the last episode of the third series in 1980, prompting an eight-month long ‘whodunnit’ that became a cultural phenomenon with spin off memorabilia including ‘Who Shot JR’ t-shirts and mugs. Hagman himself was offered £100,000 to reveal the shooter’s identity while on holiday in the UK.
After the end of the main series, Hagman made sporadic appearances in film and television, including hit shows Nip/Tuck and Desperate Housewives, and even appeared on British screens on comedy panel show Shooting Stars.
But he struggled with his health post-Dallas, having successful surgery for liver cancer in 1995 but then developing throat cancer in 2011. He died in November 2012.
SUE ELLEN EWING: LINDA GRAY
Prior to Dallas, Linda Gray’s most famous moment was as Mrs Robinson’s legs on the poster for Dustin Hoffman classic The Graduate, where the actress said she was paid $25 for one leg.
On the show she was the long-suffering wife of JR, known for necking back vodka and embarking on affairs, while Gray herself has described Sue Ellen as the ‘original Desperate Housewife’.
Viewers watched JR’s marriage to Sue Ellen crumble as Mrs Ewing turned to drink to cope with her husband’s fast-living ways
Reunited before Larry Hagman’s death; Linda Gray became a household name after her role in the show and has just published her memoirs
Linda Gray initially found fame playing the vodka-swilling, adulterous Sue Ellen, left, but says she was nothing like the character in real-life, saying: ‘If I drank like Sue Ellen I’d be dead by now, so thank God I don’t!’
In the 1990s she made several guest appearances on the BBC’s Lovejoy starring Ian McShane as a roguish antique dealer, and starred in several television movies in the USA.
Gray was another of the old Dallas crew to be tempted back for the remake in 2012 and appeared throughout the new series’ three-year run, while she too has been tempted by panto, appearing in Cinderella in London last year as the Fairy Godmother.
She was married to photographer Ed Thrasher for 21 years and had two sons with him, while she also has two grandsons.
In her most recent interview with the Daily Mail, she revealed that many viewers assumed she was like Sue Ellen in real life. She said: [‘People think that] Sue Ellen and I are the same person.
‘I adored her and feel blessed to have played her but people assume that I’m crazy, neurotic and a heavy drinker. If I drank like Sue Ellen I’d be dead by now, so thank God I don’t!’
Gray is currently promoting her memoir The Road To Happiness Is Always Under Construction.
PAMELA BARNES EWING: VICTORIA PRINCIPAL
One half of the show’s Romeo & Juliet, Pamela was often defined by her love for Bobby despite their families’ wars. Something of a method actor, Victoria Principal would keep her distance from several of the cast to reflect her character’s status as an outsider with the Ewings.
Shakespearean plots in Texas: Victoria Principal played Pamela Barnes and created a huge stir when she fell in love with Bobby, from the rival Ewings
As Pamela Barnes Ewing (left), Victoria Principal would cause trouble for her friends and enemies, but the actress herself has gone on to establish herself as a philanthropist, offering aid – often to animals – after disasters in the US
She left the show in 1987, but not soon enough to shake off the dream sequence tag that stays with her until today.
Principal’s father was in the US Air Force and spent her childhood in various places including England, where she studied at the Royal Ballet School.
Her post-Dallas acting career has been starring in television movies and making guest appearances, but she has also set up her own environmental charity in 2006, donated $200,000 towards the cleaning of the Gulf Coast oil spill in 2010 and sits on the board of a Los Angeles domestic violence advisory board, among other philanthropic projects.
Last year, the star donated funds to relief efforts for fires in Southern California, and in August last year, ensured a fleet of rescue boats helped rescue animals in Texas after Hurricane Harvey.
BOBBY EWING: PATRICK DUFFY
After a string of appearances in television movies in the 1970s, Patrick Duffy got his big break when he was cast as the youngest son Bobby in Dallas.
His character was the heart of the family and always tried to do the right thing, putting him at odds with older brother JR. Bobby was seemingly killed off in 1985 but returned a year later, famously stepping out of the shower as the entire ninth series was revealed to be the dream of his love interest Pamela Barnes Ewing.
Four decades on: Patrick Duffy during his time playing Bobby Ewing in the 80s, pictured this weekend on a German television show
Back from the dead: Bobby Ewing pictured alive and well in the famous ‘shower’ scene after the ‘dream series’. Patrick Duffy, right, arguably had the most successful career post Dallas, starring on American soap The Bold and the Beautiful between 2006 and 2011
During the show his life was hit by personal tragedy when his parents were murdered in an armed robbery at the bar they ran in Montana.
Like Hagman, Duffy has reprised his role in Dallas spin-offs, including the most recent revival, but has also appeared as a regular on American soap The Bold and the Beautiful between 2006 and 2011, while he has also made appearances in Christmas pantomimes in the UK.
Duffy has been married to wife Carlyn Rosser, a professional ballet dancer 10 years his senior, for 41 years.They have two grown up sons and four grandchildren.
His greying ponytail, spied after he appeared on a German TV show alongside David Hasselhoff this weekend shocked some fans of the show, who appeared to be surprised that their favourite star is close to 70.
LUCY EWING: CHARLENE TILTON
The show’s wild-child, Lucy Ewing – played by a then-17-year-old Charlene Tilton – would usually be found skipping school and romping around with men in the hayloft, and earned the nickname ‘poisonous dwarf’ due to her small 4ft 11in size.
Just 17 when she joined the cast, Charlene Tilton’s career has been defined by her first acting job – she said recently she’s looking forward to a 40-year-reunion at Southfork Ranch this year
Charlene Tilton played ‘poisonous dwarf’ Lucy Ewing, left, before returning to UK screens 15 years later after competing on ITV’s Dancing On Ice. She also works to support foster carers having been fostered herself
After a brief pop career in the 1980s, Tilton has gone on to feature in several small films and appeared as a contestant on ITV’s Dancing on Ice in 2012, with television roles less forthcoming in the last five years.
The star said she was looking forward to going back to Southfork Ranch for a reunion this year, telling a Texan newspaper: ‘I know this sounds crazy, but Southfork is like a second home to me.
‘It always feels wonderful to go back to Southfork Ranch and we are going to have some events there.’
JOHN ROSS EWING III: OMRI KATZ
The heir to JR’s oil empire, John Ross Ewing III was the pride and joy of the Texan magnate and his one-time love Sue Ellen.
Played by Omri Katz for much of the original series, Katz joined the show in 1983 and stayed until it went off air in 1993.
The youngest cowbiy: Omri Katz, left, pictured with Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing) played the role of John Ross Ewing III from 1983 to the programme’s end in 1991
Omri in a more recent shot; the former child star is said to have pursued a career in hairdressing since hanging up his cowboy boots
Often sporting smart business suits or full cowboy attire, the youngest member of the Ewing clan was a child in an adult’s world.
Katz went on to star in a host of other hit shows including Hocus Pocus and Eerie, Indiana as well as Zorro.
His last credit for acting work was in 2002, with Katz, now 41 and living in LA, seemingly turning his back on Hollywood.
According to Digital Spy, Katz has since focused on a career in hairdressing instead.
JENNA WADE: PRISCILLA PRESLEY
After marrying the most famous singer on the planet, Elvis Presley, in 1967, Priscilla Presley brought global fame to the show when she joined as JR’s girlfriend Jenna Wade in 1983.
She stayed for five years, injecting more glamour into the series as one-time love interest of Bobby Ewing.
Presley’s Wade was a key protagonist in the famous dream sequence, being seen to have a near breakdown after Bobby’s reported death.
Mother of Elvis’ only child, Lisa-Marie, Priscilla, now 72, has remained in the spotlight throughout the decades since Dallas aired via her husband’s legacy and more acting roles.
This month, the Brooklyn-born star has been promoting a new documentary about the King.
ELLIE EWING FARLOW: BARBARA BEL GEDDES
An Oscar nominated actress in the 1940s, Barbara Bel Geddes came to the show after a long career in Hollywood and Broadway, appearing in Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo on screen and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof on stage.
She took on the role of Ellie Ewing, matriarch of the family, for almost the entire length of the series, except for one season in 1984 when she was recovering from heart surgery and was replaced by Oscar-winning actress Donna Reed.
After the end of the show, she retired from acting immediately and settled in Maine where she worked as a fine artist, children’s author and greeting cards creator. She died in August 2005, aged 82.
Barbara Bel Gedes pictured left during her career in Hollywood, and right as fans of Dallas knew her as Ellie
JOCK EWING : JIM DAVIS
Jim Davis’s character showed tough love to his family but provoked one of the driving themes of the show by favouring youngest son Bobby and bullying eldest JR – helping drive a wedge between them that would be the basis for their decade-long feud.
Davis was diagnosed with blood cancer during the fourth series of Dallas and had to begin wearing a hairpiece to cover up the effects of chemotherapy while his voice was dubbed due to the effects of the illness. He died in 1981 and his character was written out of the show a few episodes later.
Jock Ewing, pictured, was the patriarch of the Ewing family until actor Jim Davis had to leave the show due to ill health during the fourth series. He died in 1981 after being diagnosed with a form of blood cancer
RAY KREBBS: STEVE KANALY
Ray Krebbs was the rogue with the heart of gold who was eventually revealed as the illegitimate son of Jock Ewing, which raised serious questions over his romance with Lucy after she turned out to be his niece.
Actor Steve Kanaly began fading out after the 12th series and like his colleagues, never quite found another role to match the same success. A Vietnam veteran, Kanaly has made sporadic guest appearances on shows and reprised his role in the Dallas reboot, and is also a watercolour painter.
Steve Kanaly was rarely seen without his white hat on Dallas, whether on the original run, pictured left, or when he returned for the rebooted series, right, between 2012 and 2014
CLIFF BARNES: KEN KERCHEVAL
As Cliff Barnes, Ken Kercheval provided many of the series plot points with his efforts to get revenge on nemesis JR Ewing whether it be through using his political power against him or by sleeping with his wife Sue Ellen.
Outside of the show, Kercheval is another to have performed in UK panto and has been very active on the circuit in the past decade, performing in London, Southampton, Manchester, Cardiff and Plymouth. A lung cancer survivor, he has five children from three marriages that all ended in divorce.
Ken Kercheval made his name as JR’s rival Cliff Barnes, left, but is probably more widely known in the past decade for his pantomime performances across the UK