Dallas took most people by surprise. The soap opera that first aired in 1978 was only supposed to be a five-part miniseries. There were no plans to continue after that, but the public was so into the story, and the ratings were so high, that they extended the show to a full season.
One of the main characters was Pamela Ewing, played by Victoria Principal. From the years 1978 to 1987, Victoria Principal played a significant role in the success of the show, winning two soap opera digest awards and one nomination for a Golden Globe.
Pamela Barnes Ewing was a character that had a pivotal role in the series. She held the family to some semblance of unity, despite never being taken seriously by the Ewing family. Stil, the character remained a bit of an outsider because she was the daughter of the Ewing’s arch-enemy, Digger Barnes.
In real life, Victoria Principal was also accused of being remote from the rest of the cast. Producer Leonard Katzman thought initially that maybe she just didn’t like them, and confronted her about it. Victoria responded that she actually liked the whole cast, but she wanted to feel like an outsider, just like her character Pamela Ewing.
Pamela Ewing was a complex character, and even her death was shrouded in mystery. She was hit by an oil tanker, which left her severely burned, yet not dead. While she was recovering from this accident, we learn that she disappears in an apparent effort to escape the Ewing family. And so ended Pamela Ewing on Dallas.
The character returned in the season 12 premiere, where she was played by Margaret Michaels. Her difference in appearance is explained by plastic surgery after the burns. In that episode, it was revealed that Pamela had a terminal illness with only a year to live. Although the character was never declared dead, that was the last time we ever saw Pamela Barnes Ewing as she disappeared once again.
But the initial disappearance of Pamela Barnes, and the departure of Victoria Principal from the cast, was not entirely related to the plot of the series. In fact, it came down to Victoria’s dissatisfaction with the series.
This is because, after seven years of Dallas, the time came for Victoria to renegotiate her contract. By this time Victoria was a little disillusioned with the show. Many writers had left and the storyline for Pam Ewing was not what it once was. In the end, Victoria told the show that she would only stay for two more years and that would be it. But in the last days of that two-year period, the studio had second thoughts and tried to get her to stay. They even went so far as to offer a deal where she would be paid by the episode. This deal would have made Victoria the highest-paid actress in television, but she felt strongly about her decision to leave, and stuck with it.
In the 2012 revival of Dallas, there had been hope that she might return to the show but this was not to be, and Margaret Michaels played her role for one episode to tidy the loose ends.
Eventually, we finally found out that Pamela Ewing was dead. Until this point, some fans had hoped that Victoria Principal would still someday be convinced to return to the show.
The story of how Victoria Principal was cast as Pamela Ewing was almost as complex as her demise. Her early life was far from average, growing up as an army child in Japan. She appeared as a child in several commercials, but despite this early involvement in acting, it wasn’t her initial career choice. In fact, throughout her youth she planned to have a career in medicine. Until one day, when she almost died in a car crash. This changed everything for her, and she decided to change her career path and become an actor.
She studied acting at RADA and eventually moved to Los Angeles in search of an on-screen career. She had no agent and soon found that she was better at representing herself than any agent would be. She was cast as the mistress of Roy Bean, in “The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean,” playing opposite Paul Newman in the title role. This won her a Golden Globe as best newcomer.
Her next role was in the disaster movie “Earthquake,” which premiered in 1974. After this role, Principal became disinterested in making movies and decided to study law. The plan was to support herself with TV roles while she studied. However, her experience working as her own agent gave her the experience and skill to work as a talent scout and booking agent.
Around this time, she was also acting in Fantasy Island. But, with her newfound hopes of going to law school, she requested that they removed her from the series. This involved her character being “written out” of the plot.
With her obligations on Fantasy Island done with, she could focus on being an agent and her new education. She then received a script for Dallas, which she was supposed to send to her clients. But, upon reviewing the script, she immediately fell in love with the role of Pamela Ewing. She liked the role so much that she decided to audition.
So, she called up the casting agent and informed them that she was bringing someone to audition for the role of Pamela Ewing. What she didn’t tell them was that she would be auditioning herself! All of a sudden, Victoria Principal went from actress to agent to future law student, but landed back in the position of an actress.
With her new experience as an agent, she was able to negotiate a very advantageous contract that would secure her some generous income. She was the only member of the cast with a special contract – but that’s what started her role on Dallas.
When Victoria Principal was free of Dallas, she could have retired with the money she made from the series. Instead, she opted to create her own production company, Victoria Principal Productions, and produced several TV movies. She even starred in one of them.
In 1994 Victoria appeared in an episode of the popular TV sitcom, Home Improvement. Throughout the 90s and 2000s, she continued making guest appearances on several shows, such as Just Shoot Me, Family Guy, Providence, and The Practice.
It was in the year 2000 when Victoria Principal finally made a return to prime-time soap opera, with the series “Titans”. In this series, Victoria played Gwendolyn Williams, the ex-wife of the main character. NBC, unfortunately, pulled the plug on this series after only 11 episodes had aired. The ratings were so low that they didn’t even need to finish the 13-episode season to make the decision.
After this, Victoria finally took a step back from acting and began focusing on her new skincare company, called Principal Secret. She launched the company on QVC and became a full-time entrepreneur. The company was a great success, and by 2013, the company had revenue of $1.5million.
After 30 years in the skincare business, Victoria announced that she was going to step down as President and Founder of Principal Secret on May 1st, 2019. This would give her time to devote to philanthropic work, specifically through the Victoria Principal Foundation.
She created this foundation in 2006, and through it she supports several environmental campaigns, ecology, oceans, the banning of toxic substances, and helping children. She also set up a rescue ranch just outside Los Angeles.
These days, Victoria Principal concentrates on the ranch where she rehabilitates animals. When family and friends come to visit, she enjoys telling the stories of each end every rescue the ranch has been involved in. She also regularly shares photos and stories on her Facebook account.
Now, at the age of 71, Victoria is free to devote her time to her passions and helping spread good in the world.
It is remarkable that some 43 years after the show, people still remember the show, its cast and its storylines so vividly. In those days, Victoria Principal was seen as one of the most beautiful women on television and her character struck a chord with the public. Even today, she is still an attractive woman, but now we’ve gotten a glimpse of her humanity and interests as well.
When people ask Victoria about Dallas, as they frequently do, the first question is always whether she would return to the series if it was revived. She always says that while she loved her time with the show, it is not going to happen. However, she cherishes the fact that people still care about the show and her role in it.
How do you remember Victoria Principal in Dallas? Do you think she should come back for a revival, or did the series already receive a fitting end? Let us know in the comments! And don’t forget to subscribe to Facts Verse and click the notification bell for more videos like this.