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Steve Kanaly excsluive interview official website

Interviewer - Welcome to the Ultimate Dallas Star Chat with Steve Kanaly. Now for our first question

Pamela in Texas asks : Do you think that the story with yourself and Lucy would be portrayed in the same way now. It didn't seem to preach any moral , yet Lucy was a young girl and Ray a grown man. Nobody mentioned the age difference.

Steve : Considering all the terrible sex crimes that have taken place lately I don't know if they would portray it that way. But on the other hand I think a lot of the characters on Dallas were quite immoral to begin with and nobody understood that Lucy was related to Ray so it was one of those early steps that nobody gave enough thought to. Ray was JR's second helper and they got into all kinds of trouble to begin with in the mini series but shortly afterward when the series was picked up I tried to take the character in a new direction. It would be interesting to see that subject treated in some serious way today but I don't know if we treated it seriously at all at that time.

Interviewer - On the message board people have said one of the reasons they liked Dallas was because it didn't preach any morals and was more realistic in that way.

Steve - I thought at the time and have been asked over the years why was the show successful, one of the reasons I always refer to was that we were there to entertain, we were not preachy, this was all fantasy.


Seb in Australia asks What was your involvement in Apocalypse now? How did that come about?

Steve - I was acquainted with the writer John Milius who was a client of mine when I ran a small trap and skeet target range and John had been hired by Warner Brothers to write a screen play. I was also a Vietnam veteran serving in the First Air Cavalry as an Infantry combat soldier so John was interested in my experiences developing the Robert Duvall character. I was able to share with him some notes about a commanding officer I had , the whole bit about the playing cards on the bodies of the deceased enemy at Charlie's Point, a few other things like that were lifted from my experience. My contribution was small but specific.

Elizabeth Rose in New Zealand asks: What was Larry Hagman like to work with?, and did you have a lot of competition when you auditioned for the part of Ray Krebbs? Have a great day

Steve - I didn't know about the competition for Ray, the day I went in for the meeting with Lorimar I walked into a office that was filled with Lucy hopefuls, twenty beautiful young girls, and no other males were there reading for the part. I was not ware who the competition was but years later I discovered that Ken Kercheval really wanted to play Ray Krebbs and another very close friend of mine Martin Kove well known from the 'Karate Kid' movie really wanted to play him. Both those guys were considered. Larry was called the 'Mad monk of Malibu' and not without reason, a very fun kind of eccentric guy that was fond of wearing wild hats and he came to the the show with this wild enthusiasm and he came to the show with what we would call a 'bread van', a brown step up 'bread van' , we all hung out with him and he was sort of the natural leader, he was a Texan and knew his way around and done a TV series and he said "Let's all do this", from the very beginning we would all go over and hang out with Larry and do all these fun things together all through the filming of the mini series and that was a pattern we basically did all the years of the show.

Will Rodgers in Tennessee asks: I saw you play an attorney in a movie where Richard Thomas was a single man trying to adopt an orphan boy, but I can't remember the title.

Steve - The movie was filmed in Arizona in 1980, the Producer was Harry Thomason, and it was called 'To find my son'. I played an attorney opposite Richard Thomas who was a single parent trying to adopt a child. It was a very interesting movie and Harry Thomason went on to do a show called 'Designing Women' and he also produces a show today called 'Emeril', he's very close friends with former President - Bill Clinton

Will from Tennessee also asks - My favorite era of Dallas was the first three seasons when Jock was alive and there was more of a western feel to the show and the early episodes were self contained stories. What was your all time favorite episode or era of the show?

Steve - Those were mine too , there was a lot more Western stuff in those days, mostly because Jim Davis was alive then and certainly I thought there was going to be a lot of Western stories because that was one of the things I was very interested in the show for. At one point I was ready to leave the show because there was more and more business about the Oil business and JR's under dealings and bedroom and boardroom shenanigans and less of what I did, the Western lifestyle, Larry talked me into staying and one thing he did to correct that situation was we found out Ray Krebbs was Jock's fourth son. That is my favorite show because it meant a lot to me in terms of my career and position in the show, it was also a very powerful moment I had as an actor and with someone I really regarded highly - Jim Davis.

Jocelyn in New York asks : Have you been in touch with Susan Howard? why did she leave the show?

Interviewer - This question came up a lot, actually in the UK, Susan appeared on a talk show in 1987 and said she did not want to leave.

Steve - I do still see Susan and recently did a show for ITV and we went to Southfork. It really is a complicated answer and goes across another couple of questions. When Patrick left the show that was by choice, at the same time Leonard Katzman left the show and a whole new set of Producers came in, for those of us who remained it was an opportunity to say "Hey if you are looking for some story material I always thought this would be a good idea", so everybody did that, certainly Susan Howard and I did that. Of all the married couples on Dallas, Ray and Donna were perhaps the most normal and they had no children so they started to explore that story line, along the way Donna is pregnant and looses the child, then they consider adopting and explore that whole issue and end up adopting a profoundly deaf boy and it was very moving, powerful stuff. In the meantime Larry didn't like the way the show was going because it was now not centered as much on him as it was in the past , it was more about these social issues, he wanted his partner and fun guy Patrick back, not a bad idea we all love Patrick, and he also wanted Leonard Katzman back, so Larry pretty much engineered the whole thing. When it all came to be we had Leonard and Patrick and called the whole thing a dream , we knew that would piss a lot of people off, but that's what they decided to do, it was the cleanest , easiest way to start it over we thought, at least Leonard Katzman did and Susan got her feelings hurt and she said as much and she may of been outspoken to the point where there was some real friction between herself and Leonard Katzman and that could be what ultimately was the beginning of her leaving the show I would say. They were good friends and had done a show previously together called 'Petrocelli', they were very friendly and he brought her in, he definitely wanted her in the show.

Interviewer - There was another rumor in the press that the character of Donna was supposed to have an affair with another major character and Susan refused.

Steve - Yeah you know I don't have a specific memory about that but I will say that Susan is a devoutly Christian person and she takes her work and her life very seriously and maybe if Donna was cheating on Ray or something like that she probably said "I don't like that" but I'm just guessing.

Luke in Nova Scotia asks "Your main female costars on Dallas were Susan Howard and Charlene Tilton, and I guess Priscilla Presley. If you had your wish, which Dallas lady would you have paired Ray with"

Steve - Ray was with them all, I think back I was probably happiest in terms of what was going on with my character when Ray was single. At that point Ray was one of the only single guys and had a lot of flexibility. Ray and Lucy was very brief and was big brother to her later on and you forget they were in the hayloft together. Once Ray was married to Donna the character almost become the Ray/Donna character and the stories are so interwoven that it almost takes away from the individual story and becomes a couple story. In a big cast you are scrambling for a story line and you are hoping it comes your way and there were times I wished Ray was not married but Susan was of course a very close confidant, five or six years playing husband and wife together on the show. On the other hand I had a very wonderful year courting the Priscilla Presley character of Jenna Wade , one of the more sultry moments is a Hayloft scene with Jenna in my last year. If I had to choose one it would be very difficult so I would choose single. The joke around the set was that Ray had slept with everybody expect Miss Ellie and that's unconfirmed.

Interviewer - Of course Ray slept with Sue Ellen too

Steve - That's right and quite a few other single girls, Garnet Mcgee, Bonnie.

Interviewer - and there was the mad Connie

Steve - That's right, Michelle Scarabelli, she was great. I did a TV series with Michelle called 'Okavango'.

Mike Diaz in Miami, FL asks: What was it like working with the beautiful Priscilla Presley? Were you in awe of her since she was Elvis' ex-wife? Why did you and her leave the show?

Steve - No I was not in awe of her, the first ever day I worked with her, Patrick and I were at a place called Billy Bobs in Fortworth Texas and Priscilla came in there and we said "Lets all go to lunch" and we hopped in my car and we all had lunch and margaritas and a couple of beers and we came back in a very good mood...late. So if we were in awe we got over it very quickly. Priscilla was very anxious to fit in, she worked diligently and cared a great deal about making her character work and finding her place in the ensemble amongst all of us, and she did not have a lot of acting experience at that time , later I enjoyed directing her and in my last year on the show her work had really developed into quite a strong actress. We didn't know she was so good at comedy because after she left the show she was in films. We left the show because of money, the shows ratings started to slip and there is a licensing fee that the producing company gets from the television broadcasting network and each year that is based on the numbers of advertisers and dollars they get and so fourth , so they started to take less money for a show that started to cost more and more and Priscilla asked to leave because she wanted to do films, I was not supposed to leave and I ultimately got a call from their lawyer to my lawyer to say they were not going to pick up my contract which was a total surprise to me, when I complained to say what was going on the Producer said "Sorry, to save the body we have to cut off one arm"

Interviewer - But then you came back for the Ranch war episodes?

Steve - They were very nice, they had me in for five shows with George Kennedy and that was great. I also directed a show that year. It was one of those things, they had three brothers and the show could get on with two. It was really a question about money and you have actors on there forever and their salary keep inclining and you could buy five new guys for what they pay me.

Tripp DiNicola in Martinsburg, WV asks : Were you disappointed to see the relationship between Ray, Donna, and their adopted son Tony during 1985-1986 shattered due to the dream plot? I thought that story line was extremely powerful and the most poignant of that season.

Steve - It was fun to do those shows, it was really fascinating to work with the young boy who was deaf. Susan learnt to do American sign rapidly and my character, I thought he wouldn't do that, so I learnt to do an Indian , indigenous American way to communicate, that was really challenging and the boy was wonderful to work with. On the other hand there was something very comfortable about having Patrick back, Patrick is one of my closest friends from the show. I was thrilled to have him come back so it was a trade off.

Moe in Ireland asks : What was behind the decision to reveal Ray as Jock's secret son? Did you support the idea or would you have been happier remaining outside the Ewing family?

Steve - Well it was really my idea and thanks to Larry Hagman and Jim Davis. I was ready to leave the show and there was not enough for me to do and I was angry and frustrated and said "You know I don't need this, I have been in movies, Iv done other things and Im going to go on and I don't want to come back next year". Larry and I went to play racket ball one day and we had a few beers and he said "You don't want to quit, things are happening, what can we do to improve your story lines". One of things we threw around ,which was true, was I looked more like Jim Davis then he or Patrick did. We threw that at the Producers and they didn't bite on it immediately because of Rays previous involvement with Lucy and they pulled it. It was supposed to be in the second year in an episode where Jock had been wounded in a shoot out at a dove hunt, and in that episode there is a moment where he confides something to JR and it was originally in the script "Iv got another son" but they changed it to "I have another wife" to let the Ray Lucy relationship simmer down somewhat.

Interviewer - Out of interest do you know why they changed the original ranch?

Steve - Yes , the owner was in Oil business and at that time there was a lot of restrictions on oil production and he was being investigated along with a lot of other people about illegal oil sales and decided he didn't want a movie company around his place. So he sort of just pulled out.

Kevin Oliver in Texas asks: Steve, I always wanted some of that generic beer you were always drinking. When I go into a bar and I tell them "gimme a beer", they normally ask which kind. Nobody ever asked ole Ray though, he just wanted "couple of draft beers." Since I'm on fire, I learned the expression "someone slipped me a mickey" from your character. Also loved it when you asked Pam if she wanted a cup of "hot jona". What the hell is "jona"?

Steve - Well Kevin if you are confused I am confused, I don't ever remember saying a 'cup of hot jona' I have no idea what that is and I'm not sure about 'slip a mickey' and how you would learn that from my character on the show and I really don't understand the question about the beer either but I do have a comment. That is, my preference for beer at that time was 'Lone Star' and most often that was what we drank. I, Larry and Patrick if we were drinking beer on camera it was beer, not that we were all alcoholics but its a long day and its nice to have a couple of sips on a cold beer and I know I certainly had 'Lone Star' when I had mine, they just put a new label on it. The other beer, if you can get your hands on it is 'JR Beer', Larry had a whole garage full of it at one point.

Interviewer - I have seen that for sale on the net

Steve - Its probably not drinkable, don't buy it to drink it in mind, but you can probably get it on Ebay.

Richard Beijers in the Netherlands asks : What did you do after Dallas?

Steve - Almost immediately I went to another television series that was not huge but one I really loved 'Okavango', I played a character which was not JR but is J.D and was kind of a scoundrel. It was a lot of fun, I enjoyed being in South Africa and had a chance to play this edgy fun character. It had a nice run , a lot of people really enjoyed the show and it was actually almost too good to be popular, it had a little moral note in each show. I also did a year in New York on a daytime show called 'All my Children', I could barely stand it, I could not stand living in the confines of a big city. I did a play, I directed, I did a film called 'Sliding Home' and I did several other films. I generally stayed busy but the main thing is that Im staying healthy and ready and able for the next one that comes along.

Pauline in Glasgow, Scotland asks : Hi Steve (We met a long time ago in 1983, when I won a competition to meet you, and we went riding!) How did you get the part of Ray, and is he anything like you?

Steve - I remember this girl and we did some fun stuff, make sure she understands that I remember that and I appreciate her writing in. The part, when it was first explained to me was over the telephone and they said there were three or four male roles that could be right depending on how they decide to go. With a brief description I went to the studio thinking about the Bobby character, he was young,rich,he's got the money, the fast life style and I get to the studio and there are all these Lucy hopefuls in there and I asked if I could see a script from one of the girls I know. Here's Ray, Ray's running the ranch , flying the helicopter, his girlfriend is marrying the younger brother , he' sleeping with the granddaughter in the hayloft , conspiring with the older brother to break up the marriage all in the first show. So I pretty much knew right off the back that Ray Krebbs was the character that I wanted to play, my chance to play a contemporary western character and there were not many opportunities like that around.

Pauline also asked : How did you get your break into films/tv, as I know John Milius played a part?

Steve - It was through John Milius as I mentioned earlier and he wrote a film for himself to direct but that was bought out by Paul Newman's company who hired John Huston to direct 'The life and times of Judge Roy Bean'. Through Milius I was introduced to John Huston and Milius suggested that I would be fine to play one of the Western roles in that film, specifically I had never done any acting previous to that. They saw me and I had a meeting and was offered the job , basically I jumped in with both feet and one week turned out to be twelve and you know I said "I think I'm going to stay with this". I went to school with Tom Selleck, Sally Fields, and other young people at that time who were resuming careers in the business and I came home to Los Angeles and I told them "Hey you will never guess what I just did and I need to learn how to act...fast..how do I do it?", I was advised but that was the beginning.

Pauline asked another question : "What was it like filming the mini series and did you ever imagine the show would become so popular?"

Steve - The mini series was a huge challenge , it was a lot of fun, we shot it in Texas in one of the more severe winters they had in many years, snow and ice storms, we stayed at a crappy motel , the budget was very tight and creature comforts minimal. But we all really bonded through the suffering and everyone learned to care and trust each other a lot, we all felt we had done a good job by the time we were finished , it was different, very different to anything on TV.

Alan in London asks :Did you enjoy working with Jim Davis and how did his death affect the cast?

Steve - Jim was somebody who I had seen in films and television, a very likable man that people were drawn too and was the perfect actor for Jock Ewing and brought so much to the role. Sadly we would loose Jim two or three years into the run when he died of inoperable brain cancer. I tell actors all the time when they say "my careers going nowhere", everybody is going to quit, its the ones that stay in there that have the chance, so Jim was one of those guys, he had a career that lasted fifty years and at the very end when he was in his late fifties he gets a show that makes him a world wide star. He enjoyed it more than any of us because it meant so much to him and because of that he was such a joy to be around. One of the really outstanding things that happened to him I remember was that he went to London with his wife , they had never been before and they are out in front of Buckingham Palace watching the changing of the guard and one of the guys in the big hat says, as the crowd is now all focusing on Jock Ewing instead of the procedure, "Oh Mr Ewing could you please step inside the gate", and he was so amazed that he had become this star. He came back and he told me this story and it was just wonderful. His death of course was terrible but he set a brave example to everybody that would ever have to go through this, taking each day at a time and making the most out of it, he said he was going to finish the season and all through the season he was treated with chemotherapy , he lost his vision and his balance, his ability to memorize his lines , he was a very brave man.

Alan also asked - What was it like working with Barbara Bel Geddes, and did you learn from her?

Steve - Unfortunately I didn't have a lot of wonderful moments with Barbara , they never wrote scenes that way for Ray and Miss Ellie. I always remember one of the longest scenes I had with Barbara was about Ray being a Ewing, that was a five page scene and that was very rare. She was of course a fine actress and we were very fortunate to have Barbara in the cast , she had a sense of humor and liked to be called Trixy, she always played this prim and proper character and was always trying to break out of it. When she first left the show she was replaced by Donna Reed, she didn't really need the money and she wanted to do art work and illustrate children's books but then she got bored and came back. I haven't spoken to her in a long time.

Frank in Italy asks : Larry and Patrick were notorious for their pranks on the set. Do you have any funny stories to tell? Also what was Victoria Principal like to work with?

Steve - Well I can remember a few, I personally did not do the pranks because it was my position that time is money and I treated the business in a different way to Larry and Patrick. I participated in one or two, one I remember is we get Lucy from a party where drinking and drugs is going on and we take her out to her car and say "Is that everything? Do you have any more?" and she denies and says "I don't have any more", and Patrick and I end up picking her up by her feet and we planted her pockets with all kinds of pills and things, we hang her upside down and start shaking all these pills out of her, so that was one gag we did. One time I was showing a film crew around the Southfork pool, while demonstrating "You want to be careful getting close to the pool, people fall in here all the time" and I did this gag where I loose my balance but I actually did loose my balance and in full makeup and wardrobe I go into the pool. I was doing this between takes in a very serious love scene that I was playing with Susan Howard so Susan had to play opposite with me wrapped in a towel. Larry and Patrick were the real clowns and they were always doing things like hanging outside the window of the Ewing building, one time they both did parades, Larry did one in Texas and Patrick did one in Pasadena ,the one Larry did was in brutal cold, ice and sleet and the one Patrick did was beautiful and sunny, so when they came back to work we were all on the set one day doing a scene and one little small flake of snow fell and Larry pretended that he didn't notice it and then a couple of more flakes fall , and then a handful fall , then when he looked up the whole box was dumped on his head. There were several funny moments.

Frankie also asked : What was Victoria Principal like to work with?

Steve - I knew Victoria from 'Judge Roy Bean' she was also in her first movie, she played a Mexican waif that saved Paul Newmans life. I knew her then and she's a fascinating woman, she had career as an agent, she drove race cars, she had a sort of colorful past with a guy called Bernie Cornfeld, she had this colorful background even when I first met her. By the time she came to Dallas she done quite a few more interesting things, ultimately I think she was one of the more interesting girls on the show, she wrote books, very successful in her business, she was always fun to work with and had a kind of sexy sense of humor ,liked to tell a little off colored joke in the morning, the crew all adored her and the only time I ever had any trouble with Victoria was one time she was making a political move and sort of staged this big argument which shut the show down for half a day and she and I had this huge argument on the set. It was not because she had a problem with me it was because she had a problem with Lorimar, so she knew how to play the game, this was a smart girl. I talked to her recently and she's great, looks wonderful, very healthy and happy, perfect girl for the role I think.

*At this point Steve has to answer this phone and its none other than Charlene Tilton.

Steve - I do talk to Charlene, Larry, Patrick and Susan Howard, those are the ones I talk to the most. From time to time I do talk to Victoria and Ken Kercheval.

Radio Mike in Belfast, N Ireland asks : Hi Steve, When Dallas was at the height of its popularity, I remember reading that plans were afoot to give Donna and Ray a spin-off series. I was wondering how far this was actually developed, i.e. what was to be the show's central premise, were scripts written (and what did you think of them) or did it never move beyond a basic idea? Thanks

Steve - Well that was a rumor that was kicked around and it sure sounded good to me and Susan, nobody ever spoke to me personally about the possibility of that and I have no idea whatever became of the idea. Maybe I should of wrote them some story ideas as it would of been a nice way to go.

Patrick C. in Nacogdoches, Tx asks : Would there have been any other character you would have like to have played on the show besides Ray Krebbs?
If so, why?

Steve - Absolutely not, Ray was the perfect character for me. Its one of those rare things, I saw the character and felt I was the perfect guy for the role. I really felt that this was so close to who I was in a way and I had all these ideas for the character and there was no question in my mind that that was the role I wanted.

Danny James in Essex, England asks : Hi Steve, Many would say from season 10 onwards Dallas took a massive decline, not only in ratings but generally it became worse, what do you think on this? and as a result are you glad that you left before all the new faces started entering the show? Why do you think the show declined?

Steve - Danny thank you very much I have never had that perspective before but I think I like it that I left while the getting was good. But it does reflect on what did happen to the show which was decreased money to produce episodes and cut backs in all areas. Different writers, wardrobe, all new faces. They tried to bring in a younger audience by bringing in these young characters, the magic was with the original cast, so it was a steady slide after that.

Pamstwinsister in Barcelona, Spain asks : Hello Steve. Congratulations for such a great career and such a sympathetic personality!
My question is this: I´d love to know the truth about the Jenna-Ray affair, I mean: was it a matter of production to tie up 2 characters left alone or just that they didn´t know if both of you would renew contracts every year?

Steve - That's pretty funny, 'Pams twin sister', she must be a knockout.I don't know what was going on in the writers mind at that point, Ray was single again , they had already done the Bobby/Jenna story and then she had the child, Bobby's son, now you have the half brother marrying her and raising the son. Ray had a pretty big heart in those days.

Jamie Sue from NY asks : Have you heard anything about a new reunion movie? I have also heard there is a big movie planned? Would you be in it?

Steve - I have and I haven't, no lawyers or agents are calling me or studio heads and I have not spoken to Larry or Patrick regarding this and generally they would know. But I have heard some rumors about a feature film or another big reunion movie. Personally I really had a great time on 'War of the Ewings' Michael Preece was the director, Larry, Patrick and Linda, George Kennedy and myself, it was like going back to your childhood and you are back there in 1980. If they were to have them and ask me I would go, I would pack my bags and be ready to go.

Petey from Scotland asks : Do you have any Dallas memorabilia? If not is there anything you wish you had taken

Steve - I do have a whole box of Dallas stuff, books, games, fragrances, JR watches, JR beer, cards, notepads and covers from magazines. People might be thinking about things like hats, belts, and boots, those were all mine to begin with. I supplied all the hats, jeans, all the boots, all the cowboy stuff was mine because I wanted it to be authentic.

Jock_jr in Washington asks : How would you sum up the character of Ray and also in a sentence how would you sum up your years on Dallas?

Steve - Ray was all of my boyhood heroes, Ray was John Wayne and Gary Cooper in a modern setting. I loved Westerns growing up and it was my chance to play homage to that genre, he was a blue collar hero and the time we did the show one of the only Western characters on television and I felt a real responsibility to all people that not only lived the Western lifestyle but also enjoyed Western films. Larry Hagman had given me this beautiful presentation engraved Colt. 45 revolvers , on the top of this box it said "To my brother Steve for ten of the best years of your life" and thats pretty much how felt about those years on the show.

Steve is in the process of writing a 'Dallas' book, a personal account of the show covering all thirteen seasons. This is fantastic news for Dallas fans and with that in mind Steve has a question for all of you. "Where is Dallas being shown now in the world?". If you know the answer to this please send your reply to admin@ultimatedallas.com and we will pass this along to Steve.

Thanks to Steve Kanaly for a fantastic interview and thanks to everyone who took part.

 


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