The Southfork Ranch located in Texas was picked after producers helicoptered over the area in search of the perfect setting for the American television series Dallas. The series appeared on CBS from 1978 to 1991 and continues to be syndicated all over the world.
‘Dallas’ was one of the few American Television series broadcast during the communist regime of Nicolai Ceausecu. The dictator was a fan of the program, but broadcast it to show the evils of capitalism. During the mid-1990s the corrupt Romanian billionaire Ilie Alexandru created a Balkan version of the Southfork Ranch in Slobozia, on the main road between Bucharest and the Black Sea.
‘Southfork Dallas in Hermes Land’ is a cross between an amusement park and a resort based on the Southfork ranch including a 132-foot-tall replica of the Eiffel Tower, vernacular gypsy pagodas and castles.
The Southfork Ranch in Slobozia is a sort of do-it-yourself reconstruction, interpreted from videotapes of the television series and books on the architecture of the American South.
The Ranch in Dallas is located on 40 acres, not 100,000 acres, as it was in the show.
The copy in Slobozia is located on 247 acres.
In the filming of the series, camera operators used mirrors and a special wide-angle lens to make the Ranch look larger.
The copy in Slobozia is 20% larger than the film-set in Texas.
Only shots of the exterior of the home were filmed in Texas. All interior scenes were filmed on a sound stage in Los Angeles.
In 1999 Larry Hagman and his wife Maj visited the copy of the Southfork Ranch in Slobozia with Ilie Alexandru, Prince Paul, pretender to the Romanian throne. Larry Hagman remarked that the Ranch looked just like the ‘original’ but was even larger.
Larry Hagman recently appeared in a series of advertisements for Lukoill, a Russian petroleum company, telling consumers that they will be “well ahead” if they use the product. The success of the campaign by the international advertising conglomerate Ogilvy & Mather was featured in a front page story in the Wall Street Journal.
In an interview in the Romanian newspaper Cotidianul with the businessman and founder of ‘Dallas Southfork in Hermes Land’, Ilie Alexandru, he confirms the rumour that George W. Bush attended his wedding in Slobozia while on a business trip. Alexandru was subsequently jailed for bankruptcy and taking illegal loans.
“You know, it’s on cable TV three times a day,” said Hagman. “We’ve got whole new generations of people watching it for the first time. I get a lot of mail from Bulgaria, Romania, Nigeria.”
Larry King: Why did it work Larry?
Larry Hagman: I think it’s because here we all are, living in one house, three multimillionaires living in one house with one bedroom and one bathroom each – not even two bathrooms, which is the basis of a good marriage – and it just fell into that kind of European home family, you know, where the grandmother and grandfather and everybody lives in same house, and I think that’s why it’s so big abroad.
Larry Hagman:` `I think we were directly or indirectly responsible for the fall of the Russian empire,” the actor said. He explains that thousands of bootleg copies of the series were smuggled into the former Soviet Union.
Larry Hagman: “Well, I have a predilection for champagne and I drank about 4 or 5 bottles a day. I’d get in and open a bottle of champagne about 9 am.”
In a recent autobiography Larry Hagman talks about his alcoholism and experimentation with LSD.
And Larry adds he was surprised Dallas became so popular.
“It’s a fantasy, a cartoon, a comedy so far as I was concerned, but wonderful and outrageous, although most people took it seriously.”
In 1991 Hagman happened to be in Vienna at the same time that an OPEC meeting was underway. Upon discovering he was in Vienna, the actor was asked to say a few words. With Arab and Nigerian oil ministers present he was asked: ‘What do you think the price of oil should be at, Mr. Hagman?’
“I said, ‘Well, I think it should be $36 a barrel, that sounds good to me.’ Well, the place fell apart. They yelled and hollered and screamed and said, ‘Wonderful! That guy knows what he’s talking about!’ Well, I’d had a scene in ‘Dallas’ the week before where $36 was established and everybody seemed happy with it. So I just drew it from a script by somebody who didn’t know anything about the oil business anyhow!” After Hagman’s comments made the news, he got hate mail from fellow Americans fearful his comments might prompt higher gas prices