Dallas was a Western soap opera that ran from April 2, 1978, to May 3, 1991. It followed the oil baron family the Ewings. It also spawned reboots, TV films, and a 14-season spinoff called Knott’s Landing. The Season 4 ‘who shot J.R.” plotline is the second highest-rated telecast of all time. It put suspicion on every character. Who hurt the oil baron we all loved to hate? Dallas was so successful that it gave many famous actors their start, bringing them from unknowns to ones that will go down in history. Keep watching and join us to learn about the Dallas Cast then and now.
First Dallas Cast: Larry Hagman
Larry was the successful lead of another show; I Dream of Jeannie,” appearing in 139 episodes. In 1978, he was offered the role of Joe Namath in The Waverly Wonders or J.R. in Dallas. His wife helped him make the right decision.
He was one of the only cast members to appear in all 357 episodes of Dallas, stealing the lead away from Victoria Principal. His most famous arc was the eight-long “Who Shot J.R.” mystery. It was so popular it helped him negotiate for higher pay, and he also earned four Golden Globe and two Primetime Emmy nominations for his work on the show.
After 13 years, he appeared in Primary Colors and the TV Movie Dallas: J.R. Returns and Dallas: War of the Ewings. He then took a break from acting until 2006 when he reappeared in five episodes of Nip/Tuck. Larry’s final acting roles were a two-episode arc on Desperate Housewives in 2011 and the 2012 revival of Dallas.
Larry was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver from his heavy drinking. He underwent a transplant after a malignant tumor was found in his liver in 1995. He also suffered from throat cancer.
Larry Hagman died at the age of 81 on November 23, 2012, at a hospital from complications of cancer. He was surrounded by friends and family on his deathbed. The New York Times called J.R. “one of television’s most beloved villains.
Second Dallas Cast: Ken Kercheval
Ken’s breakout role was in 1973’s Seven-Ups. He then played Ray Krebbs before being perfectly cast as Cliff Barnes, J.R.’s nemesis.
Ken collected over 63 starring roles. After Dallas ended, he appeared in I Still Dream of Jeanie, Murder She Wrote, The Golden Pallas, Walker Texas Ranger, and more. He also showed up for the two Dallas spin-off films, Dallas: J.R. Returns and Dallas: War of Ewings. He also had 14 episodes on the Dallas reboot series from 2012-2014. His final role was Surviving L.A. in 2020.
Ken was diagnosed with lung cancer after heavy smoking and had to have part of his lung removed in 1994. He was diagnosed with pneumonia in 2019. Ken Kercheval died at the age of 83 in April 2019.
Third Dallas Cast: Barbara Bel Geddes
Barbara started her career in the 40s on Broadway. She won awards and got her film debut in 1947s The Long Night. Her next role, 1948s Mama I Remember, earned her an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actress.
Barbara’s name appeared on the infamous Hollywood Blacklist in 1951, but she moved to the stage and small screen. She appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Presents and the director’s famous 1958 film Vertigo. She was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 1993 after appearing in 15 plays.
Barbara was the first star to sign on to Dallas as Miss Ellie. It was her final role, and she only took it because she was desperate for money after her husband’s death six years before.
Barbara had to sit out at the end of the sixth season due to quadruple bypass surgery. Donna Reed replaced her until she returned.
Barbara retired in 1990 and found a home in Maine. She spent her final years making art and writing children’s books.
Barbara Bel Geddes died of lung cancer at the age of 82 on August 8, 2005. Patrick Duffy said that she was mentioned in almost every episode of the 2012 remake.
Patrick Duffy: Dallas Cast as Bobby Ewing
His life began with tragedy. His parents were murdered in their tavern in Montana by two 19-year-old men they’d kicked out earlier.
Patrick went after his dreams anyway and later graduated from the University of Washington in 1971 with a drama degree. He ruptured his vocal cords in his senior year, but he still landed the lead in Man from Atlantis.
He then joined the cast of Dallas as Bobby Ewing. His character was killed off but then reappeared a year later in an infamous “shower scene” where it was all revealed to be a dream.
When Dallas ended, he looked for work wherever he could find it. One of the first projects he found was the sitcom Step by Step. He acted in and directed many episodes from 1991-1998.
Patrick also appeared in shows such as Family Guy and Reba and the film You Again. He joined the soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful as Stephan Logan for 151 episodes from 2006-2002 and reappeared for the Dallas reboot from 2012-2014.
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Linda Gray had appeared in over 400 commercials, but Sue Ellen Erwing was her breakout role. She describes the family’s matriarch as the “original desperate housewife.” She was briefly fired after asking for a pay raise, but when Larry Hagman threatened to leave, they let her come back.
After Dallas ended, she starred in a few films before getting the lead in the show Models Inc in 1994. It only lasted one season and went off the air the next year.
Linda returned for the two Dallas reunion films and the reboot from 2012-2014. She also got six episodes on The Bold and the Beautiful from 2004-2005 and roles in projects such as 90210, The Flight of the Swan, Hidden Moon, and the Hallmark film Perfect Match.
Also, shes a stage performer, playing Mrs. Robinson on the West End run of The Graduate. She began directing theater performances the next year, making her debut with Murder in the First. She returned to theater in 2014 as the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella.
Her latest on-screen appearances were in films such as Grand-Daddy Day Care and Intuitions. She also appeared in podcasts Tara Tremendous and Tremendous in 2020.
She’s 82 years old today and lives in California with her children and two grandsons. She’s also promoting her memoir, The Road to Happiness is Always Under Construction.
Steve Kanaly was a multi-tasking and multi-talented actor. While he played Ray Krebbs on Dallas, he also appeared on other popular shows such as Fantasy Island, The Love Boat, and The Twilight Zone.
He appeared in films such as Driving Me Crazy and Double Trouble and then got a role in the show Okavango: The Wild Frontier. It only lasted for two seasons, but he also had a 10-episode arc on All My Children.
He acted in independent films before playing Ray again in Dallas: War of the Ewings. He also acted in four episodes of the 2012 Dallas reboot. His final acting role was on an episode of the show DeVanity in 2014.
Steve retired at 76 and, in an interesting example of art imitating life, has been living on a ranch in California with his family since then. He’s also a respected watercolor artist.
Howard Keel was already a star who appeared in musicals on stage and screen by the time he signed on to play Clayton Farlow on Dallas. His success started to dip at the time, and the role was just the boost he needed.
Howard appeared in other shows after the show ended, such as episodes of Murder, She Wrote, Hart to Hart, and My Father’s House. He even released his debut album at the age of 64 in 1984 and followed it up with two more.
Howard was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2004. He tragically died six weeks later on November 7.
Victoria was working as an agent and intended to go to law school from 1975-1977, but then she saw the script for Dallas. The role of Pamela Barnes Ewing was too great to pass up, and it earned her a Golden Globe nomination.
The business-minded woman also created Victoria Principal Productions in 1987. She produced and starred in six films through it. She also has a line of skincare and has written three books about beauty and skincare.
Victoria is 72 and focused on promoting her products and books. Her charity, The Victoria Principal Foundation for Thoughtful Existence, has donated $200,000 to clean the Gulf Coast oil spill in 2010, gave funds to help victims of the Southern California wildfires in 2017, and sent fleets of boats to rescue animals after Hurricane Harvey.
Charlene Tinton was one of the many Dallas cast members who can call it their breakout role. She was one of the most popular stars, earning $50,000 per episode, appearing on 500 magazine covers, and drawing in 65 million viewers during her wedding episode.
Her success in Dallas led to plenty of other projects. They included westerns such as Border Shootout, comedies such as Problem Child 2, and a guest spot on Married…with Children. She also reappeared for a few episodes of the 2012 Dallas reboot.
Charlene has appeared in several Lifetime and Hallmark movies as well. Her most recent roles were 2021’s A Unicorn for Christmas and 2023’s Heaven Sent.
Susan had a long list of TV credits throughout her career, including The Flying Nun, I Dream of Jeanie, Star Trek, and Bonanza. She was even working on other shows during her time on Dallas as Donna Culver Krebbs.
She was a co-host for The 700 Club two years before leaving, and she retired from acting after the 1993 film Come the Morning. She’s been living with her second husband Calving Chrane in Texas since 1998.
Priscilla rose to fame when she met married Elvis in 1967 at the age of 21. They had a daughter, Lisa Marie, and then divorced in October 1973.
Being associated with a major name helped her get the role of Jenna Wade on Dallas in 1983. She stayed on until 1988.
The character of John Ross Ewing III was a baby in early seasons. Omri Katz came on to play him when he grew up in 1983 and stayed until the show ended in 1993.
He continued to pursue acting after that lucky break. His other films include Hocus Pocus, Eerie, Indiana, and Zorro.
Omri’s ambitions changed after his final appearance in 2002. He now has a simpler life as a hairdresser in LA.
Jim brought to life one of the less likable characters in Dallas. Jock Ewing favored his younger son Bobby and bullied J.R. No one deserved what happened to the actor who played him.
Jim was diagnosed with blood cancer in the fourth season of the show. He was forced to wear a hairpiece and have his voice dubbed as his condition worsened.
Jim Davis died on April 26, 1981. His character was written out of the show.
Who’s your favorite Dallas cast member? Let us know in the comments.