Dallas Styles: Miss Ellie’s Fur Coat

Warm, in more ways than one

In “The Wheeler Dealer,” Jock and Miss Ellie visit the Colorado sanitarium where Amanda, his first wife, has lived for many years. The scene is beautifully written and performed, but whenever I watch it, I find myself a little distracted by the dark brown fur coat Barbara Bel Geddes wears.

This is a decidedly un-Ellie-like look, after all. On “Dallas,” Ellie is the rancher’s daughter who never outgrew her affinity for simple skirts and blouses. For her, dressing up usually means conservative suits and a strand of pearls. What’s she doing bedecked in fur?

Perhaps the “Dallas” wardrobe designers wanted to draw a contrast between Ellie and Amanda, who wears a basic floral print dress and long sweater in this scene. The fur might also offer a window into Ellie’s state of mind, suggesting she’s still struggling to accept the fact she isn’t the first Mrs. Jock Ewing.

Remember, Ellie didn’t learn about Amanda until the eve of her cancer surgery in “Mastectomy, Part 1,” an earlier third-season episode. The shock came at a time when Ellie was worried about her health and feeling insecure about her femininity. Is the fur coat her way of asserting her role as the wife of a wealthy and powerful man?

As “Dallas” fans, we tend to put Ellie on a pedestal, but she was capable of experiencing doubts, as we saw during the “Mastectomy” episodes. Of course, Ellie is mostly strong and compassionate, which the sanitarium scene ultimately demonstrates. When Amanda sees Jock, she doesn’t recognize him and appears somewhat frightened, so Ellie approaches the woman, gently puts her hand on her shoulder and quietly says, “Hello Amanda. My name’s Ellie.”

It’s a touching moment, and even though it’s very brief, I consider it one of Bel Geddes’ best scenes. It’s also a lovely reminder that Ellie is “Dallas’s” warmest character, and not just because of the coat she wears.

Comments

  1. barbara fan says:

    Barbara wore that fur jacket quite a lot off screen too – I always thought she wore it in Dallas because it was a cold day filming lol

    • Ha ha. Well, BF, your theory is as good as mine! The other actors in the scene aren’t wearing coats, but you never know. Maybe BBG was just chilly.

  2. I appreciate what you’ve shared with me about Barbara Bel Geddes in this scene. Sounds like she gives a understated but powerful performance here (I don’t remember it well, but I do remember Bobby having to step in as “Jock”).

Trackbacks

  1. […] character on “The Bold and the Beautiful.”) I also love when Ellie, looking regal in her fur coat, gently puts her hand on Amanda’s shoulder and comforts her. What a terrific […]

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