Dallas


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About

Dallas, the first of a genre to be named "prime-time soap" by television critics, established the features of serial plots involving feuding families and moral excess that would characterize all other programs of the type. Created by David Jacobs, Dallas's first five-episode pilot season, aired in April 1978 on CBS, met with poor reviews, but earned ratings that put it in the top ten by the end of its limited run. The central premise was a Romeo and Juliet conflict, set in contemporary Texas. Pamela Barnes and Bobby Ewing were the young lovers; their two families perpetuated the feud of their elders, Jock Ewing and Digger Barnes, over the rightful ownership of oil fields claimed by the Ewings.

In the pilot episodes and the twelve full seasons that would follow, the Ewing family remained the focus of Dallas. Indeed, the Ewing brothers, their wives, their offspring and all assorted relatives passing through would continue to live under one roof on Southfork, the family ranch. Bobby's older brother J.R., played with sly wit by Larry Hagman, would become a new kind of villain for television because of his centrality to the program and the depth both actor and writers gave to the character. Abusive to his alcoholic wife Sue Ellen, ruthless and underhanded with his nemesis Cliff Barnes and any other challenger to Ewing Oil, J.R. was nevertheless a loyal son to Miss Ellie and Jock, a devoted father to his son and heir, John Ross. Hagman's J.R. soon became the man viewers loved to hate.

For prime time in the late seventies, Dallas was sensational, featuring numerous acts of adultery by both J.R. and Sue Ellen, the revelation of Jock's illegitimate son, Ray Krebs, who worked as a hired hand on Southfork, and the raunchy exploits of young Lucy, daughter of Gary, the third, largely absent, Ewing brother. It was the complicated stuff of daytime melodrama, done with big-budget glamour--high-fashion wardrobes, richly furnished home and office interiors, exteriors shot on location in the Dallas area.

During the 1978-79 season, writer-producer Leonard Katzman turned the prime-time drama into the first prime-time serial since Peyton Place when Sue Ellen Ewing found she was pregnant, her child's paternity uncertain. The generic formula was complete when that same season concluded with a cliffhanger: Sue Ellen was critically injured in a car accident and both her fate and the fate of her baby remained unresolved until September. Cliffhanger episodes became highly promoted Friday night rituals after the following season, which ended with a freeze-frame of villain-protagonist J.R. lying shot on the floor of his office, his prognosis and his assailant unknown. "Who Shot J.R.?" reverberated throughout popular culture that summer, culminating in an episode the following season which broke ratings records--76% of all American televisions in use tuned to Dallas. Even after 1985, when the program's ratings sagged, cliffhanger episodes in the spring and their resolutions in the fall would boost the aging serial back into the top ten.

In the midst of an ever-expanding cast of Ewings and Barnes, scheming mistresses, high-rolling oil men and white collar henchmen, the primary characters and relationships changed and evolved over the course of the serial. Bobby and Pam's marriage succumbed to J.R.'s plots to pull them apart, and both pursued other romances. After J.R. and Sue Ellen's marriage produced an heir, Sue Ellen stopped drinking and went on the offensive against J.R. Both Pam and Sue Ellen acquired careers. Ray Krebs rose from hired hand to independent rancher, always apart from the Ewing clan, but indispensable to it.

Like its daytime counterparts, Dallas adapted to the comings and goings of several of its star actors. When Jim Davis, who played Jock Ewing, died in 1981, his character was written out of the show, with Jock's plane disappearing somewhere over South America. The character was never recast, though several plotlines alluded to his possible reappearance, and his portrait continued to preside over key scenes in the offices of Ewing Oil. Barbara Bel Geddes, the beloved Miss Ellie, asked to be relieved from her contract for health reasons in 1984, and Donna Reed stepped into the role for one season, only to be removed when Bel Geddes was persuaded to return. During the 1985-86 season, Bobby Ewing was dead, at the request of actor Patrick Duffy, but the character returned when Duffy wanted back on the show. Bobby was resurrected when his death and all the rest of the previous season were redefined as Pam's dream. Linda Gray left the show in 1989, and her character, Sue Ellen, exited as an independent movie mogul whose final act of vengeance was to produce a painfully accurate film about J.R.

In the early 1980s, other serials joined the internationally successful Dallas on the prime-time schedule, each in some way defining itself in relation to the original. Among them, Knots Landing began as a spin-off of Dallas, featuring Gary Ewing and his wife Valene transplanted to a California suburb. ABC's Dynasty both copied the Dallas formula and stretched it to outrageous proportions. On the other hand, hour-long dramas, most notably Hill Street Blues, began grafting Dallas's successful serial strategy onto other genres. Among the eighties generation of prime time soaps, only Knots Landing outlasted Dallas, which concluded in May 1991. In the 1990s, the genre has been revamped in several serials on the Fox network. Beverly Hills 90210, Melrose Place and Models, Inc.--the last featuring Dallas's Linda Gray--have pitched the genre to a younger generation of viewers.

-Sue Brower

CAST

John Ross (J.R.) Ewing, Jr..................... Larry Hagman  

Eleanor Southworth (Miss Ellie) Ewing (1978-1984, 1985-1990)... Barbara Bel Geddes  

Eleanor Southworth (Miss Ellie) Ewing (1984-1985) .. Donna Reed

John Ross (Jock) Ewing (1978-1981)............. Jim Davis  

Bobby Ewing (1978-1985, 1986-1991)....... Patrick Duffy  

Pamela Barnes Ewing (1978-1987)..... Victoria Principal  

Lucy Ewing Cooper (1978-1985, 1988-1990)......... Charlene Tilton  

Sue Ellen Ewing (1978-1989)...................... Linda Gray  

Ray Krebbs (1978-1988)......................... Steve Kanaly

Cliff Barnes ..........................................Ken Kercheval  

Julie Grey (April 1978)............................... Tina Louise  

Willard "Digger" Barnes (1978)................. David Wayne  

Willard "Digger" Barnes (1979-1980)....... Keenan Wynn  

Gary Ewing (1978-1979)......................... David Ackroyd

Gary Ewing (1979-1981)...................... Ted Shackelford  

Valene Ewing (1978-1981)....................... Joan Van Ark

Liz Craig (1978-1982)........................ Barbara Babcock  

Willie Joe Garr (1978-1979)...................... John Ashton  

Jeb Amos (1978-1979)............................. Sandy Ward

Kristin Shepard (1979-1981)..................... Mary Crosby

Mrs. Patricia Shepard (1979, 1985)........... Martha Scott  

Dusty Farlow (1979-1982, 1985)................ Jared Martin

Alan Beam (1979-1980)...................... Randolph Powell  

Dr. Ellby (1979-1981)................................. Jeff Cooper  

Donna Culver Krebbs (1979-1987).......... Susan Howard  

Dave Culver (1979-1982, 1986-1987)........ Tom Fuccello  

Harve Smithfield............................... George O. Petrie  

Vaughn Leland (1979-1984)................... Dennis Patrick  

Connie (1979-1981)........................... Jeanna Michaels

Louella (1979-1981)........................... Megan Gallagher

Jordan Lee (1979-1990)................................ Don Starr

Mitch Cooper (1979-1982).................. Leigh McCloskey

John Ross Ewing III (1980-1983)............... Tyler Banks

John Ross Ewing III (1983-1991).................. Omri Katz

Punk Anderson (1980-1987)............ Morgan Woodward

Mavis Anderson (1982-1988)..................... Alice Hirson

Brady York (1980-1981)............................ Ted Gehring

Alex Ward (1980-1981)............................. Joel Fabiani

Les Crowley (1980-1981)........................... Michael Bell

Marilee Stone (1980-1987).................... Fern Fitzgerald

Afton Cooper (1981-1984, 1989)........... Audrey Landers

Arliss Cooper (1981)............................... Anne Francis

Clint Ogden (1981)............................. Monte Markham

Leslie Stewart (1981)........................... Susan Flannery

Rebecca Wentworth (1981-1983).......... Priscilla Pointer

Craig Stewart (l981)............................... Craig Stevens

Jeremy Wendell (l981, 1984-1988)...... William Smithers

Clayton Farlow (1981-1991)...................... Howard Keel

Jeff Farraday (1981-1982)............................ Art Hindle

Katherine Wentworth (1981-1984)......... Morgan Brittany

Charles Eccles (1982).............................. Ron Tomme

Bonnie Robertson (1982)...................... Lindsay Bloom

Blair Sullivan (1982)..................................... Ray Wise

Holly Harwood (1982-1984)......................... Lois Chiles

Mickey Trotter (1982-1983)...... Timothy Patrick Murphy

Walt Driscoll (l982-1983)........................... Ben Piazza

Jarrett McLeish (1982-1983)......... J. Patrick McNamara

Thornton McLeish (1982-1983).......... Kenneth Kimmins

Eugene Bullock (1982-1983)....................... E.J. Andre

Mark Graison (1983-1984, 1985-1986).......... John Beck

Aunt Lil Trotter (1983-1984).......................... Kate Reid

Roy Ralston (1983).................................... John Reilly

Serena Wald (1983-1985, 1990)... Stephanie Blackmore

Peter Richards (1983-1984)............. Christopher Atkins

Paul Morgan (1983-1984, 1988)............... Glenn Corbett

Jenna Wade (l983-1988)..................... Priscilla Presley

Charlie Wade (1983-1988)................... Shalane McCall

Edgar Randolph (1983-1984).............. Martin E. Brooks

Armando Sidoni (1983-1984)................... Alberto Morin

Sly Lovegren (1983-1991).................. Deborah Rennard

Betty (1984-1985).................................. Kathleen York

Eddie Cronin (1984-1985)....................... Fredric Lehne

Pete Adams (1984-1985)........................ Burke Byrnes

Dave Stratton (1984)........................ Christopher Stone

Jessica Montfort (1984, 1990).................. Alexis Smith

Mandy Winger (1984-1987)................. Deborah Shelton

Jamie Ewing Barnes (1984-1986)......... Jenilee Harrison

Christopher Ewing (1984-1991)................ Joshua Harris

Scotty Demarest (1985-1986)................ Stephen Elliott

Jack Ewing (1985-1987).......................... Dack Rambo

Angelico Nero (1985-1986)................... Barbara Carrera

Dr. Jerry Kenderson (1985-1986)............... Barry Jenner

Nicholas (1985-1986).......................... George Chakiris

Grace (1985-1986)........................... Marete Van Kamp

Matt Cantrell (1986).................................. Marc Singer

PRODUCERS

David Jacobs, Philip Capice, Leonard Katzman

PROGRAMMING HISTORY

330 Episodes

CBS

April 1978   Sunday 10:00-11:00

September 1978-October 1978   Saturday 10:00-11:00

October 1978-January 1979   Sunday 10:00-11:00

January 1979-November 1981   Friday 10:00-11:00

December 1981-May 1985   Friday 9:00-10:00

September 1985-May 1986   Friday 9:00-10:00

September 1986-May 1988   Friday 9:00-10:00

October 1988-March 1990   Friday 9:00 -10:00

March 1990-May 1990   Friday 10:00-11:00

November 1990-December 1990   Friday 10:00-11:00

January 1991-May 1991   Friday 9:00-10:00

FURTHER READING

Adams, John. "Setting as Chorus: An Iconology of Dallas." Critical Survey (Oxford, U.K.), 1994.

Ang, Ien. Watching Dallas: Soap Opera and the Melodramatic Imagination. London; New York: Routledge, 1989.

Bonderoff, Jason. The Official Dallas Trivia Quiz Book. New York: New American Library, 1985.

Cassidy, Marsha F. "The Duke of Dallas: Interview with Leonard Katzman." Journal of Popular Film and Television (Bowling Green, Ohio), Spring 1988.

Coward, Rosalind. "Come Back Miss Ellie: On Character and Narrative in Soap Operas." Critical Quarterly (Manchester, U.K.), Spring-Summer 1986.

Hirschfeld, Burt. The Ewings of Dallas: A Novel. New York: Bantam Books, 1980.

Kalter, Suzy. The Complete Book of Dallas: Behind the Scenes of the World's Favorite TV Program. Introduction by David Jacobs. New York: Abrams, 1986.

Liebes, Tamar, and Elihu Katz. The Export of Meaning: Cross-Cultural Readings of Dallas. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990.

Mander, Mary S. "Dallas: The Mythology of Crime and the Moral Occult." Journal of Popular Culture (Bowling Green, Ohio), Fall 1983.

Masello, Robert. The Dallas Family Album : Unforgettable Moments from the #1 TV Series. New York: Bantam, 1980.

Perlberg, Diane J., and Joelle Delbourgo, editors. Quotations of J.R. Ewing. New York: Bantam, 1980.

Silj, Alessandro, and Manuel Alvarado, editors. East of Dallas: The European Challenge to American Television. London: BFI, 1988.

White, Mimi. "Women, Memory and Serial Melodrama," Screen (Oxford, U.K.), Winter 1994.

Who talked about this show

Bruce Bilson

View Interview
Bruce Bilson on directing Dallas
02:27

Robert Culp

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Robert Culp on the rumor of his being set to replace Larry Hagman on Dallas
03:10

Barbara Eden

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Barbara Eden on joining the cast of Dallas
02:16

Ruth Engelhardt

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Ruth Engelhardt on working with Larry Hagman on Dallas
02:35

Dorothy Fontana

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Dorothy Fontana on writing for Dallas early in its run
02:05

Larry Hagman

View Interview
Larry Hagman on a joke played on him by Patrick Duffy during Dallas
00:34
Larry Hagman on being cast as J.R. Ewing on Dallas
01:55
Larry Hagman on his Dallas character, J.R. Ewing
01:41
Larry Hagman on working with the producers of Dallas and his involvement in the return of Patrick Duffy to the show
05:45
Larry Hagman on working with his co-stars on Dallas including Linda Gray, David Wayne, Ken Kercheval, Jim Davis, Barbara Bel Geddes, and Charlene Tilton
11:26
Larry Hagman on shooting the first 5 episodes of Dallas and the appeal of the Southfork Ranch locale
05:55
Larry Hagman on the Dallas storyline where his character, "J.R. Ewing" is shot (Who shot J.R.?)
07:10
Larry Hagman on Bobby Ewing's (Patrick Duffy) departure and return to Dallas
07:06
Larry Hagman on the final episode of Dallas, "It's a Wonderful Life"
02:30
Larry Hagman on filming Dallas on-location in extreme heat
01:42
Larry Hagman on Barbara Bel Geddes being replaced by Donna Reed on Dallas
00:55
Larry Hagman on the departures of Dallas co-stars Victoria Principal and Dack Rambo
02:05
Larry Hagman on becoming an executive producer of Dallas
01:25
Larry Hagman on the ending of Dallas and the subsequent reunion shows
03:10
Larry Hagman on the legacy of Dallas
03:44

David Jacobs

View Interview
David Jacobs on the genesis and production of Dallas and Knots Landing
25:42
Creator/Producer David Jacobs on Dallas (continued)
37:00
David Jacobs on the fifth episode of Dallas, "Barbeque"
02:23
David Jacobs on the Dallas prequel, Dallas: The Early Years
03:03
David Jacobs on the "Who Shot J.R.?" storyline on Dallas
04:18
David Jacobs on the Bobby out of the shower/last season was all a dream storyline on Dallas
02:41
David Jacobs on the Dallas prequel Dallas: The Early Years
01:05
David Jacobs on the writing of Dallas
01:08

Rita Lakin

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Rita Lakin on turning down Dallas, and on her very short stint on Dynasty
02:26

Judith Light

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Judith Light on playing "Judith Ryland" on the revival of Dallas
04:51

Susan Lucci

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Susan Lucci on her six-episode stint on Dallas and working in nighttime vs. daytime soaps
05:13

Leslie H. Martinson

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Leslie H. Martinson on directing Dallas
01:25

Leslie Moonves

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Leslie Moonves on working at Lorimar Telepictures, which was producing Dallas at the time
01:06

Lee Rich

View Interview
Lee Rich on getting Dallas off the ground
00:48
Lee Rich on getting Dallas on the air
01:12
Lee Rich on the origins of Dallas
12:16
Lee Rich on the "House Divided" episode of Dallas which generated the question, "Who Shot J.R.?"
04:17
Lee Rich on Patrick Ewing leaving and returning to Dallas - the season was all a dream
01:30
Lee Rich on going on Tom Snyder's show to deal with criticism from a reverend about Dallas
00:51
Lee Rich on staying home to watch TV shows
00:45

Esther Shapiro

View Interview
Richard and Esther Shapiro on differences between Dallas and Dynasty
01:00

Richard Shapiro

View Interview
Richard and Esther Shapiro on differences between Dallas and Dynasty
01:00

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