TNT’s Dallas Styles: Ann’s Pearls

She wears them well

On the original “Dallas,” Miss Ellie’s pearl necklace symbolized her role as wife, mother and fount of wisdom. Along with the beloved matriarch’s sack dresses, those little white beads became Ellie’s most enduring signature.

On TNT’s “Dallas,” Ann’s beads serve as visual shorthand for her role as Bobby’s wife and the new woman of Southfork. The first time we see her wearing them, during that terrific dinner scene in “Changing of the Guard,” TNT’s first “Dallas” episode, we know instantly what kind of character Ann is supposed to be.

Of course, putting Ann in pearls automatically invites comparisons to Miss Ellie, which is a bit risky since Barbara Bel Geddes is so revered among “Dallas” diehards. Indeed, while I tend to see Ann’s pearls – along with her Ellie-esque penchant for guns – as affectionate tributes to Bel Geddes’ character, some of my fellow “Dallas” fans seem to view them as cheap mimicry.

Perhaps this explains “The Last Hurrah” scene where J.R. gives Ellie’s pearl necklace to Sue Ellen. It’s as if the “Dallas” producers, anticipating there might be some Ann skeptics in the audience, wanted to make sure everyone understood the character doesn’t have a monopoly on white beads. In other words: Brenda Strong might be playing the new lady of the manor, but Linda Gray has inherited Bel Geddes’ mantle as “Dallas’s” elder stateswoman, so Sue Ellen gets the honor of possessing the pearls Ellie actually wore.

But give Ann her due. In “Truth and Consequences,” the character begins coming into her own, especially in the scene where she meets Rebecca for coffee and offers the confused young woman comfort (“You’re young, Rebecca. You make mistakes when you’re young. It doesn’t mean you can’t change.”), as well as a little tough love (“Your choices are yours.”).

Strong is terrific in this scene, which demonstrates how, even though Ann doesn’t have children of her own (that we know of, that is), she has the potential to become a significant maternal figure to “Dallas’s” younger characters.

I also think it’s notable that Ann is sans necklace when she visits ex-husband Harris Ryland in “Truth and Consequences” and asks him to help slow down the drilling on Southfork.  Since Ann’s pearls symbolize her role as Bobby’s wife – and since her meeting with Ryland takes place behind Bobby’s back – it’s probably best she leaves the beads at home.


  1. I really wish Ann hadn’t gone behind Bobby’s back. She does wear the pearls well though. I like her character!!

  2. Lady G. says:

    I love Patrick Duffy but I’m a newbie to the original Dallas, this new Dallas just sucked me right in and I’m watching both. lol. I really like Anne’s character and I want to know more about her and how she and Bobby met, etc. etc. Can’t wait to see Bobby get up that old temper on her ex.

    • Welcome to “Dallas!” Glad to hear you like both shows. I like Ann, too. According to TNT’s publicity materials for the new show, Sue Ellen and Ann are friends and Sue Ellen introduced Bobby to Ann, who have been married for about seven years, I think. It would be nice if we got to see them discuss how they met on the show itself. As far as Ann’s ex, wait until you see Bobby’s confrontation with him during tonight’s episode. It’s a good one!

      • Lady G. says:

        Thanks for the kind welcome and for replying to my comments. Hopefully I don’t blather on too much. lol. Seven years is a good time to do a how they met ‘flashback’ without worrying that the actors look too much older. 😀 Tonight’s episode was awesome.

      • There’s no such thing as blathering when it comes to “Dallas”! I agree: The latest episode was very good. Thanks again for commenting!

  3. Of course, in the original series there is an even more obvious semiotic link made between Miss Ellie and her ubiquitous pearl wearing: the episode ‘Wedding Belle Blues’ from Season 12 sees Miss Ellie bequeath her pearls to Cally just before the wedding. Pearls mean simplicity, modest grandeur and grit. I cannot think of a more pithy summation of Miss Ellie.

  4. In regards to the casting of Ann, I heard a long while back that Annette O’Toole was going to play Bobby’s wife. I nearly jumped for joy. For me that would have been ultimate dream-fan casting, I love Annette O’Toole like i love Patrick Duffy and watch nearly everything she’s in. (Not a ‘Smallville’ fan but she was a wonderful Martha Kent.) They did work in a TV Movie called ‘Strong Medicine.’ But they were not ‘together.’ He was with Pamela Sue Martin and O’Toole was playing her sister I believe. I think Duffy and O’Toole would have been great as a couple.
    But nothing against Brenda Strong, I think she’s marvelous in this role, a similar strength to her acting as O’Toole. But anyone hear of that casting news before?

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