Dallas: Whatever happened to the Ewing family?

As Catherine Zeta-Jones is chosen to play Sue Ellen in the film version of 'Dallas', Genevieve Roberts and Ben Moore-Bridger find out what happened to the other Southfork residents when the oil ran out
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The Independent Online



Patrick Duffy

Bobby came back from the dead to signal his wife Pam's awakening from a series-long bad dream. Mr Goody-Two-Shoes to his sly brother JR, Bobby was the acceptable, and, to many, attractive, face of the family. In contrast to JR's marital instability and many affairs, he and doe-eyed Pam had a marriage made in heaven. A former carpenter, Duffy left in 1985 but returned when producers decided they loved the idea of the dream sequence, which came from his wife, Carlyn. He has struggled to find such a high televisual profile again, finding parts in a series of poor sitcoms. His life on an Oregon ranch, he says, is "very boring" and he is a committed Buddhist. His parents were murdered in 1986.


Larry Hagman

Larry Hagman's stetson-wearing JR was one of television's most enduring villains. Unfaithful, sly, smooth-talking and quick-witted, 350 million people tuned in from around the world to find out who shot him. Hagman, who was once offered $250,000 to disclose this secret, spent years in an extravagant, alcoholic stupor, spending £40,000 a year on champagne. The 73-year-old had a liver transplant in 1995, and rumours abound that his new liver may be failing. Upon his death, he wants his body to be ground up in a wood chipper and scattered in a field, where wheat is to be harvested and made into a cake for his friends and family to eat on the first anniversary of his death.


Linda Gray

Despite appearing in more than 40 TV shows and films, Linda Gray will never be able to shake off the identity of lip-quivering, drink-sodden Sue Ellen, whom she describes as "the original desperate housewife." Gray is now starring in the daytime soap The Bold And The Beautiful and plans to take a play, Conversations With Bette Davis, on stage in LA. She has also worked on another US soap, Melrose Place, as well as the shortlived Models Inc. Four years ago she played Mrs Robinson in The Graduate in the West End, in which she appeared naked - briefly. She says she was "terrified" by stripping. She is also one of the few Hollywood leading ladies to shun plastic surgery.


Ken Kercheval

Cliff Barnes was one of life's perennial losers, trying to commit suicide when he was exposed as an embezzler. He never stood a chance against his arch-rival and nemesis, JR: "Look up the word 'cheap' in a dictionary," JR once proclaimed, "and you'll see his picture there". However, in life outside of Dallas he has fared more successfully than some of his co-stars, appearing regularly in Hotel, Murder She Wrote, Diagnosis Murder and LA Law. Kercheval, now 69, also sells vintage cars. A smoker with a 60-a-day habit, he was diagnosed with cancer in the mid-Nineties and had much of a lung removed. He still smokes, saying: "I won't pick the time I go out." He has also struggled with alcoholism.


Steve Kanaly

The man who played the black sheep of the Ewing family, as Jock's illegitimate son, is now 59 and spends most of his time painting and running an orange and avocado farm with his wife, Brent, in California. Having suffered a heart attack nine years ago, he goes on five-mile walks every day and is a respected watercolour artist. He has also worked on behalf of the National Rifle Association and has been a firearms safety instructor. He took part in Dallas Reunion: Return to Southfork, last year, and also appeared in The Division, Rush for the Door in 2004. A decade before, he played a cowboy in In the Heat of the Night and in 1989 he was a scout in The Twilight Zone.


Victoria Principal

As wife of the dashing Bobby, Pam was the envy of millions of women. She had it all - the lifestyle, the clothes, the scheming brother-in-law.

Victoria Principal now looks many years younger than her 58 years, the result of marrying her second husband, a plastic surgeon, Harry Glassman. In true Dallas fashion, she met him while going under the knife. She has made millions from her eponymous skincare range and lives in Beverly Hills.

She left the show in 1987 saying she was "bored" but has starred in many US television productions since, most recently Providence, The Practice and Titans. She has also written a series of health books on women's issues.


Charlene Tilton

Dubbed the "poison dwarf" by Terry Wogan, Tilton played the feisty, scheming blonde from the start in 1978 until being sacked in 1985, reportedly for putting on too much weight. A campaign by fans, and a ratings slump brought her back in 1989. Tilton has since appeared in a number of forgettable television shows, performed in the 1991 film Problem Child 2, lost money in bad investments, and spent a lot of time organising Dallas reunions and making celebrity appearances.She makes a living as a gossip columnist and also still acts. Her most recent performance was in The Vagina Monologues in February. Last year she also appeared in the US version of Celebrity Fat Club.


Barbara Bel Geddes

Miss Ellie was the Ewing matriarch, and only she could tame JR. But Bel Geddes had achieved earlier acting success, appearing in the first production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in 1958 and making her name in Hitchcock's Vertigo. Her career was revived when, aged 56, she won the role of Miss Ellie. But in 1984 she was forced to leave for a year to have heart surgery and Donna Reed took over her role. After returning, she stayed until the end in 1991, earning herself an Emmy on the way.Retiring from acting in 1991 she lives by a lake in Maine, writes children's books and designs stationery. She has also lost a £9m lawsuit against her agent which left her bankrupt.


Susan Howard

Howard, the first female Klingon in Star Trek, finally came to substantial fame as Donna, Ray Krebbs' wife. Since the end of the series, she has done some acting to raise money for charity. The last film she starred in was for the Billy Graham organisation which she describes as "a Christian message film". The former governor of Texas, George Bush, once appointed her as a commissioner for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. At the time she was approached for this role, she asked the man who became the President: "Why are you appointing me?" He said: "Because you'd be good at it." She is also a member of the board of directors for the National Rifle Association.

...and three stars of the later editions


Donna Reed

An already established actress, Reed took over the role of Ellie Ewing Farlow during the 1984-85 season while the original actress, Barbara Bel Geddes, was given time off for illness. It was to be Reed's last public performance - she died from pancreatic cancer in Beverly Hills on 14 January 1986, two weeks before her 65th birthday.


Priscilla Presley

The former wife of Elvis has carried on acting since her stint as Ray Krebbs' girlfriend in 1983-88. Her main parts have been in the Naked Gun series. On television she regularly appears on Melrose Place. However, she makes her living developing fragrances, one of her creations - Moments - being worth around £50m a year. She is also on the board of MGM.


Howard Keel

Keel died from colon cancer, aged 85, last November. He had made his name as a baritone in musicals such as Calamity Jane, Kismet and Kiss Me Kate and it was his booming presence that won him the role of Farlow as foil to JR. After Dallas he returned to his first love, singing, performing in clubs and concerts.