Premiering back in 1978, this American TV series became one of the most beloved and longest running dramas of all time. It all centred around a Texan oil baron’s son Bobby Ewing, who married a daughter from a rival family, Pamela Barnes. There were manipulations, seductions and plenty of spats to keep the viewers hooked for over 14 seasons, with spin-off Knots Landing and the Dallas revival in 2012.
The show’s popularity hit an all-time high when J.R. Ewing got shot and it became a worldwide obsession with over 100 million people tuning in.
Now celebrating its 40th anniversary, New Idea reveals secrets from the cast that have been hidden until now...
Before the show aired
Victoria Principal, who played Pamela Barnes Ewing, reveals that as soon as she received the script, she knew it would be a hit.
‘When I finished, I thought: “I want to memorise this moment because my life just changed.” I was so sure Dallas was going to be a hit,’ the star revealed to Closer.
Charlene Tilton, who played Lucy Ewing, says she thought otherwise: ‘I had no idea how life-changing it would be, that I really would become part of my family that would last the rest of my life.’
Season 3: Who shot J.R.?
Patrick Duffy, who played Bobby Ewing, said everyone was asking.
‘The Queen Mother...tried to get Larry to tell her who shot him and he didn’t know, but he tried to get money out of her. She wouldn’t give it to him. That’s when we knew we were gonna come back,’ he told Closer.
Linda Gray, who played Sue Ellen, said it was absolutely amazing working with Larry Hagman, who played J.R.
‘It’s like playing tennis with somebody better then you. We would immediately click into J.R. and Sue Ellen, and let the games begin. I miss him,’ she confessed.
Season 9: Bobby returns
Patrick says they filmed several ways in which his character Bobby would come back with bandages on his head, but then ended up making a commercial for Irish Spring Soap at the same time.
‘All I did was turn around and I said: “Good morning”, then I hold up a bar of soap going: “You can have a good morning too, if you wake up like the Duffy family with Irish Spring Soap!”’ Patrick said the scene took him a whole eight hours.
The return of Dallas
Linda says it was her idea to have her character, Sue, run for governor.
‘The producers said: “OK, let’s do it,” so we start the campaign, the posters. And then they came to me and said: “She can’t win, because the capital is in Austin and we don’t have enough money to fly you back and forth.” They said I had to lose!’
Did you know?
Larry and Patrick were drinking buddies on the set. ‘I would have a glass [of champagne] with him, but then he would continue for the rest of the day with many more bottles,’ Patrick said.
Whether J.R. returned or not was a matter of money.
‘The shooting of J.R. was a double-edged sword – it gave my producers and the CBS bosses a perfect way to get rid of me in case my demands got out of hand,’ Larry told TV Guide in the ’80s.
While Southfork Ranch was privately owned during filming, visitors can now tour the Ewing mansion – which is filled with memorabilia.
Larry said the show was responsible for communism.
‘I think we were directly or indirectly responsible for the fall of the [Soviet] empire,’ he told the Associated Press.
A Dallas video game was created in 1984 called The Dallas Quest. Users spent most of their time fighting off angry cattle and the Ewings.