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Charlene Tilton Dallas  interview official website

From 1978 to 1991, viewers worldwide were riveted by Dallas. The CBS-TV series about the Ewings of South Fork Ranch so captivated audiences that Dallas actress Charlene Tilton recalls, "When the show was on in Germany, it was switched to Sunday night. The original night it was on, no one would go to the stores or restaurants. You could shoot a cannon in the street and not hit anyone."

She didn't shoot J.R., but Tilton's character, Lucy Ewing, got into trouble plenty of other ways
Tilton played Lucy Ewing, a child with a troubled heritage -- troubled because her parents seemed to forget about her once they moved to Knots Landing, the spin-off show. "I did a couple of 'Knots,' and then the show sort of changed," 39-year old Tilton recalls. "Knots Landing" took on a life of its own, and very soon no mention was made of the life -- or the child -- Val and Gary had shared in Dallas.

Born and raised in LA, Tilton started her career by taking singing and dancing lessons and performing in recreation center plays. "While I was in high school, I started working professionally and got an agent," Tilton says. "Then, when I was 17, I got 'Dallas'."

She did the series for 11 years. Besides being a "great working experience," Tilton recalls that the show "was a lot of fun, too. Patrick [Duffy] and Larry [Hagman] were always being really funny and cutting-up. When we had the infamous mealtime scenes, food fights would inevitably develop."

Tilton says she hasn't seen anyone from the series in "a while" but keeps in touch with Blanche Davis, the widow of actor Jim Davis. Until his death in March of 1981, Davis played patriarch Jock Ewing. She adds, "We all run into each other from time to time, and it's great when we do."

The curvy actress developed a weight problem while on the series and received a great deal of publicity not only for putting weight on, but for taking it off. Having been a tabloid victim, the whole subject of weight angers her. "They've got all these skinny people on the front of 'The Star,' accusing them of being anorexic, and then you open it up and they're making fun of Rita Wilson because of her weight and asking if she's pregnant."

The tabloids have been in her past for some time. LA-based Tilton has been concentrating lately on her daughter, 16-year-old Cherish Lee, who is an actress and a model. Cherish's dad is country and western singer Johnny Lee. (Tilton was married before Lee to another singer, Dominic Allen.) "I've been a single mom for about 10 years," Tilton says. "Cherish has been my main priority. I haven't really focused so much on getting acting work. I get her to school, we do homework at night, and at this age, their social calendars are really quite hectic. She's not driving yet, so I end up chauffeuring her around."

Is she worried about her daughter pursuing an acting career? Tilton comments, "You have to have a strong sense of self in this business -- otherwise they're going to spit you out. Cherish believes that God made her with a special purpose. Like any teenage girl, she has her insecurities, but for the most part she has a real healthy self-esteem." Cherish was cut out of her first film, American History X, but her mom comforted her with, "Honey, they cut Kevin Costner out of his first film."

With her daughter growing older and out working herself, Tilton has started looking for roles again. "I am identified with Dallas," she admits, "but I'm not 17 anymore. Enough time has passed." She recently filmed a pilot for a situation comedy. "We'll see if it goes," she says.

However it goes, Tilton has no regrets. "I'm so glad that I had the opportunity to be mom, be with Cherish, every single day. I was free to go to the school if I needed to, attend her after-school activities, help her with homework. We're very close. She's turned out to be an amazing person. I consider myself a great success. My daughter is a good, caring, compassionate person. To me that's the true meaning of success, even though the marriages didn't work out. My success with my daughter is all that matters."

Written by the excellent- MARIA CIACCIA



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