Dallas press related items.
Interviews with the people who made Dallas.
The production process making Dallas
The life and times of the Dallas cast.
Dallas cast and crew members who have passed away.
Detailed list of Dallas cast and crew
How many lovers did JR have? Find out in the database
Recognizing the people who wrote Dallas.
A look at memorbilia from the show
What happened to the Ewing kids?.
Be the first get all the latest news from Dallas
Dallas Newsletter

Dallas Press Archive

Choose a press article from the drop down list

Farewell to Southfork, Adios J. R.

published 1991

Life without J. R.? Unthinkable.

But on Friday, the very last episode of "Dallas" will air. If I believe what I read in The Star -- and I do, I do -- the series will end with a guest appearance by Joel Grey. He will lead J. R. through a takeoff of "It's a Wonderful Life," to see what it all would have been like without him. Certainly, a cabaret. But no one would have watched the show.

J. R. Ewing, played by Larry Hagman since the series started in 1977, was a villain you could love, because he was predictable enough never to be truly threatening. He would destroy any man who got in his way if it meant protecting Ewing Oil, the company founded by his late, beloved daddy.

He would savage every woman who got it into her pretty little head to mess with him -- and all their heads were pretty -- sleeping with every last one of them before he dumped and disgraced them. And not one of them ever saw it coming.

His behavior caused his mother, Miss Ellie (Barbara Bel Geddes), continual heartache, which he compounded by fighting with and undermining his handsome, much nicer brother Bobby (Patrick Duffy). He was always cheating on his intermittently alcoholic wife Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) -- who always saw it coming -- and they all lived with Miss Ellie at Southfork Ranch, the ancestral home.

J. R. was always mean to Bobby's wife, Pam (Victoria Principal), because Pam's brother, Cliff Barnes (Ken Kercheval), was J. R.'s most hated competitor. This made Bobby even sweeter to Pam, which made him look even more handsome, and depending on the state of your personal life at the time, this could either be endearing or depressing.

Cliff (a millionaire oil man in his own right, but a cheap one) lived in a cheesy-looking condo filled with chrome furniture, where he ordered a lot of Chinese food and clumsily mistreated a lot of chesty women -- before, during and after he slept with them. At least J. R.'s mistresses got champagne. With Cliff, you got egg roll.

You don't really need to learn any more characters, because no matter how many came and went, the story was always the same. J. R. kept cheating on Sue Ellen, so she always needed to have lunch with Miss Ellie or Pam, to cry on their heavily padded shoulders or plot her long overdue revenge. They would eat at the Oil Barons Club, where Cliff would invariably be getting sloshed at a nearby table, masterminding yet another overthrow of Ewing Oil. Oblivious, the women -- who wore the kind of outfits to lunch most people I know wear to weddings -- would shed a tear or two, drink white wine and eat salads. And one of them would be wearing a fabulous hat.

Then it would be cocktail hour back at Southfork, and time for the third outfit of the day, though curiously, no matter what the occasion, Miss Ellie's clothes always had Peter Pan collars. Except when she was played by Donna Reed, when Barbara Bel Geddes left the show for a while. Though Ms. Reed always dressed much better than Ms. Bel Geddes, she was never as good, and thankfully she wasn't there long. So you just had to figure that Ms. Bel Geddes found her clue to the character in those collars and leave it at that.

Back to the cocktails. J. R. would stride into the living room dressed in his business suit, cowboy hat in hand. Headed for the crystal decanter of bourbon, he would fling the hat aside and swallow his drink straight up, without wincing. Then he would turn and accuse someone who was lolling about enjoying a Scotch that somehow, at least since lunch, he or she had been sabotaging Ewing Oil. Then there would be some epic yelling, and smack in the middle, Teresa, the maid, would take no more than two steps into the room and announce that dinner was ready. Like clockwork.

That's why "Dallas" was so great. Nothing ever changed. It was like listening to your favorite song over and over again and never getting sick of it. No matter how the plot threatened to turn, J. R. was always bad even when he pretended to be good, and that always explained just about everything you needed to know about anyone else around him.

Of course, my obsession with "Dallas" is not unique, judging from the years it stayed among the Top 10 in the ratings. But most New Yorkers -- who as a group have an attention span of five seconds -- never made the commitment. The fact that it aired on Friday nights probably didn't help.

I made it part of my weekly ritual, to mark that perfect moment when the work week was over, the weekend just beginning. I admit that I fell off in the last year or two, taping episodes I never got around to watching, forgetting to tape others. My mom, who is a truly good sport, hung in with me until a few seasons ago, when Bobby came back from the dead as part of Pam's dream. He just stepped out of the shower and said good morning, even though he had died the season before so Patrick Duffy could leave the show. My mom defected then, along with a lot of other people.

But I still stuck by it because it had everything . Good versus Evil. Romance and revenge. Hair styles you never thought possible and dialogue you could either sneer at or use in your own fights. When the hour was over you felt as if you had eaten a pint of coffee Heath Bar crunch and knew you wouldn't gain an ounce. Heaven.

Last week I met some people for lunch at a restaurant in the theater district in New York. I saw a very sunburned Larry Hagman sitting at a corner table with three other men having what looked like a serious business conversation. He was unsmiling, and there was no cowboy hat in sight. He looked tired and most un-J. R.-like. But I was overcome. Look, I told some people I knew at a table near his. It's Larry Hagman! Oh, yes, they nodded. Mary Martin's son.

NO! Not just Mary Martin's son. J. R. Ewing. The most evil man in Dallas, the target of all my week's-end frustrations for 10 years, the bad seed, the devil. And now he's gone. I mean, I'm sure I'll see Larry Hagman again, but it just won't be the same.

It came to me then as if in a dream, that one word that let me pull myself together and walk out onto the street, head high, confident that tomorrow will come.


Dallas official fans forum
Discuss Dallas and meet fans in the official Dallas fans forum.

The cast of TV show Dallas
Dallas news, critics and merchandise.