The popular soap opera Dallas first aired on April 2nd, 1978 on CBS, and followed the Ewing family, the exploitative owners of an oil company. Initially, the show was simply a five-part miniseries that aired late at night, and had rather low ratings. However, it performed better than expected, and the creators decided to make it into a full series. Despite its rocky start, Dallas eventually aired for a total of 14 seasons until its end on May 3rd, 1991, making it one of the longest running hour-long television shows in American history. A total of 357 episodes aired throughout the show’s runtime. Dallas was also so popular that it even inspired a spin-off series, entitled Knots Landing, which also ran for an impressive 14 seasons. Later on, there was even a short-lived revival series which aired from 2012 to 2014, for a total of three seasons.
Dallas became very popular for its dramatic themes, with its story arcs often centering around sex and affairs, power structures, exploitation, and wealth. Early on in the show, audience members would always tune in to learn about the latest troubles between the feuding Ewing and Barnes families, which would eventually come to an explosive plot point where a member of each family, Pamela Barnes and Bobby Ewing, fell in love and eloped. While Pamela and Bobby’s clandestine relationship was initially the most important plot point of the show, it would eventually center around the show’s breakout character, J.R. Ewing, the unprincipled older brother of Bobby.
Audience members could always count on Dallas to be filled with drama and excitement, as well as interesting plot points that raised a lot of moral questions. The show was also well known for its nail biting cliffhangers, which always left audiences wanting more. The expertly crafted drama of Dallas even earned it a spot on TIME Magazine’s list of “100 Best TV Shows of All-TIME.” Even though the show ended decades ago, it still remains popular in many households, and is still available to watch on syndication.
Sadly, because the show aired some time ago, not every cast member is still alive today. In today’s video, we’re going to take a look at which cast members of Dallas you didn’t know died, as well as what the remaining cast members are up to today. Make sure you stick around, because we’re also going to reveal how one cast member tragically died during the show, making Dallas his last ever appearance on screen throughout his career.
Barbara Bel Geddes
Barbara Bel Geddes played the role of the Ewing family matriarch, Miss Ellie. While she was the first cast member of the show to be signed onto Dallas, she unfortunately did not spend a lot of time on the show, because she suffered from many health issues. In fact, for a few seasons, her character was even replaced by a different actor, Donna Reed, while she underwent heart surgery. She was already a famous actor before being signed onto the show, and her presence was actually the reason that her fellow actor, Larry Hagman, agreed to join the show in the first place.
She was also the only actor on the show to receive any awards for her performance, as she received a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series. Barbara Bel Geddes retired from acting for good in 1990, and in 2005, she sadly died of lung cancer.
Jim Davis acted alongside Barabara Bel Geddes as the patriarch of the Ewing family, Jock. he was in his late 60s when he was cast on the show, and while he was still in good health at the beginning, the creators of the show realized that he may not have that much time left. He acted for four seasons on Dallas, but audience members could see onscreen that his health was sadly declining. While one of the major plot points in the earlier seasons of the show was the marital problems between Jock and Ellie Ewing, the creators knew something else had to be done.
Sensing that Jim Davis’ life was nearing its end, they decided to have Jock and Ellie resolve their problems and go on a second honeymoon. However, it was later revealed that, while on the honeymoon, Jock died in a tragic helicopter crash. In real life, Jim Davis died in April of 1981 aged 71 years old.
Howard Keel was introduced as Miss Ellie’s new husband, Clayton Farlow, following the death of Jock. Even though he had had a successful career, appearing in shows and films like Annie Get Your Gun, Showboat, and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, he had reached a low point in his career. Thankfully, his casting in Dallas brought his acting career back to life, and he had a great run. After the end of Dallas, however, he mostly stopped acting. He died in 2004 from colon cancer when he was 85 years old.
Ken Kerchevel was one of only two actors to appear in every episode of the original Dallas series. He played the role of Cliff Barnes, who was always at odds with the character J.R. Ewing. In real life, Ken Kerchevel was a sweet man who got along well with the actor behind J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, and also professed to be best friends with Barbara Bel Geddes. He died in 2019 of pneumonia when he was 83 years old.
While Ken Kerchevel’s death was certainly tragic, it did not interfere with the making of Dallas whatsoever. Make sure you stick around until the very end, because we’re going to reveal how the tragic death of the most important actor of the series led to the most famous “Whodunnit” episode to ever air on television! And if you’re enjoying this video so far, please take a moment to like this video, and don’t forget to subscribe to Facts Verse for more!
Between 1988 and 1991, George Kennedy acted on Dallas as the character Carter McKay, who was the sworn enemy of the Ewing family. He had a reputation for his amazing acting long before his appearance on Dallas, having acted in films and shows like The Naked Gun, Airport, and Cool Hand Luke. George Kennedy’s performance brought even more life and drama to Dallas, and he remained a staple of the show until its eventual end. He continued to act in various shows and movies until retiring in 2014. He died two years later at age 91 after a long history of heart disease.
While many of the initial cast members of the show Dallas have since passed, some are still alive and well today. He played the role of Bobby Ewing, one of the few morally good characters in a family of exploitative oil tycoons. Much of the early show centered around his forbidden love interest with Pamela Barnes. Aside from his role in Dallas, he’s also well known for acting in the shows The Bold and the Beautiful as well as Step by Step. While he’s since slowed down in his acting career somewhat, he’s still making appearances. His most recent acting appearance was in an episode of NCIS in 2020, but seeing as he hasn’t announced his retirement yet, there’s a good chance we’ll be seeing more of him!
Victoria Principal played the sweet love interest of Bobby Ewing, Pamela Barnes. Today, she remains one of the few cast members of Dallas who is still alive today. While she was once well known for her work as an actor, she’s since become an author and entrepreneur, with a focus on skincare, fitness, and beauty. She retired from acting in 2004 after a TV special called Dallas Reunion: The Return to Southfork. However, she’s still working hard as a businesswoman, and has published a total of three books already. She’s also done prominent work as a philanthropist.
Larry Hagman played the role of J.R. Ewing, who was initially overshadowed by his older brother, Bobby Ewing, and his relationship with Pamela Barnes. However, J.R. Ewing later became a breakout character as fans became interested in his unscrupulous dealings with the oil company. He was also one of only two characters to appear in every episode of the original Dallas series. He later reprised his role in the 2012 revival series. However, in 2012, he died of leukemia at 81 years old. His unexpected death left the writers scrambling, but they managed to create an intense murder mystery. While the mystery plot was a success, he still left his former cast members in grief.
Sadly, many of the beloved cast members of Dallas are no longer alive today, but a few are still alive and well. Were you more surprised to learn that Larry Hagman’s death spurred one of the most exciting “Whodunnit” episodes ever aired on television, or that actress Victoria Principal, even at age 71, is still acting today? Let us know in the comments below, and don’t forget to subscribe to Facts Verse for more!