I love Dallas. I am not sure if I watched it when it was originally on television in the late 1970s and 1980s, but I know my parents faithfully watched it. I did watch the re-runs though, and now I have the first five seasons on dvd, which I recently watched again. Watching Dallas made me want to ride horses, wear my cowboy hat and go back to Texas. I visited the actual Southfork ranch in 2010 when I traveled through Texas with my two dogs Elvis and Cilla. I just finished Larry Hagman’s (who played JR Ewing) autobiography Hello Darlin’.
Dallas debuted on April 2, 1978 as five-part mini series and then was picked up and aired until 1991. If you live under a rock and do not know what Dallas is about, it is about a rich, oil family in Dallas, Texas. Originally Bobby and Pam were the focus of the show, but soon the serial revolved around JR and Sue Ellen. Dallas invented the cliff hanger, which is now used on almost every television show. My favorite character was Bobby Ewing, played by Patrick Duffy. He was the youngest of the Ewing brothers and the nicest. JR Ewing, played by Larry Hagman, was definitely the most entertaining. He was so funny with his smirk and snide remarks. At first I didn’t like Sue Ellen, JR’s wife, because she was pathetic and weak, but she morphed into a strong, smart woman. Conversely, I first really liked Pam, Bobby’s wife, because she was strong and smart, but then she morphed into sad and whiney. Lucy Ewing, JR and Bobby’s niece, started out as a spoiled brat but turned into a good girl. Jock Ewing, the family patriarch, was a really cool, tough old man. Unfortunately, he died at the end of the fourth season. Miss Ellie, Jock’s wife, was a very strong woman. Ray, the ranch foreman and eventual fourth Ewing brother, was a real cowboy. A few things I noticed while rewatching Dallas were there was lots of drinking, lots of purple, lots of fast cars and the store where Pam worked was actually called The Store. Everyone was drinking at every meal and every business deal no matter what time of day in Dallas. All the ladies wore purple clothes and purple eyeshadow – it was the 80s. Everyone zoomed in and out of the driveway at Southfork. For the first three seasons, the family ate breakfast and dinner together every show and then everything changed on season four. The most memorable part of Dallas was the ‘Who Shot JR?’ saga. The episode that revealed who shot JR was the most watched television show ever, until the finale of MASH. It was Kristen, Sue Ellen’s sister, who show JR. She was played by Mary Crosby, who was Bing Crosby’s daughter.
On June 4, 2010, I toured Southfork Ranch, the Ewings home on Dallas. It was so cool. It was the highlight of my trip through Texas. Dallas was never filmed inside the house until the reunion show, but all the exteriors were shot on Southfork – the pool, the back porch, the driveway, the front and back yards, and the front of the house. I was so excited to see the yellow awnings on the back porch and the actual table where the Ewings ate breakfast. I was surprised that the pool was so tiny. They used mirrors to make it look bigger on tv. The driveway is shorter than in looked on tv. And they used to put powder down to make it look as if it was a dirt driveway. The tour was great. I took the free shuttle from Southfork hotel, and they even gave me a coupon for the tour. I first toured the Dallas museum and then the ranch. A guy in a tractor pulled us around the ranch and told us about the real Southfork, which was owned coincidently by a guy named JR. We then went inside the house and learned about the real house, which is only about 5000 square feet, and the house on Dallas was supposed to be about 30,000 square feet. I bought a lot of souvenirs while visiting Southfork, including a sparkly orange cowboy hat.
To continue on with my Dallas obsession, I just finished JR Ewing’s, excuse me, Larry Hagman’s autobiography Hello Darlin‘. Larry did not have a great life growing up. His mom, who was broadway star Mary Martin (she played Peter Pan), was only 17 when Larry was born. Mary was too busy being an actress to raise him. Larry was raised by his grandmother until she died when he was 12. Larry moved back in with his mother & stepfather, but they were never around. His stepfather was an abusive alcoholic. To put Larry asleep, his nanny gave him a sack of sugar dipped in whiskey. Maybe these things led to Larry’s future alcoholism. Larry wanted to be a cowboy then an actor. Coincidently, he was born in Texas – right near Dallas. After deciding he wasn’t cut out to be a cowboy, Larry started his career as an actor in the theatre and the circus before going on to becoming a star on I Dream of Jeannie and Dallas. Throughout his career when a fan wanted an autograph, Larry would ask the person to give him a poem, prayer or song first. He thought this made the experience more memorable and it was a good way to get to know his fans.
I am really looking forward to the new Dallas series on TNT this summer!