The Republicans are in Tampa and the Democrats are headed to Charlotte, but the real political heavyweights are in “Dallas.” Here’s a look at some of the gladhanders, grandstanders and gurus who’ve courted the Ewings’ support – and occasionally, their wrath – on the original series, its “Knots Landing” spinoff and TNT’s “Dallas” revival.
MAYNARD ANDERSON (Peter Mark Richman)
Anderson was an oil industry darling whose appointment to a high-ranking Department of Energy post left Jock and J.R. giddy. But Andreson’s new job was jeopardized when his shrewish wife Melissa threatened to expose his affair with Jenna Wade, Bobby’s old flame. J.R. promised to help out his pal Anderson, which meant using Jenna to try to split up newlyweds Bobby and Pam. J.R.’s ploy failed and Jenna released Bobby from her clutches (for awhile, anyway); the audience never learned if Mr. Anderson actually went to Washington.
CLIFF BARNES (Ken Kercheval)
Cliff had a talent for attracting trouble – his college girlfriend died after a botched abortion and he was arrested for Julie Grey’s murder and Bobby Ewing’s shooting – but he never let scandal get in the way of his ambition. Despite losing bids for state senate and Congress, Cliff was appointed to several cushy gigs, including oil industry watchdog and “energy czar.” Of course, Cliff was too busy trying to beat the Ewings to hold onto any job long. As we learned in the “Dallas” finale, if J.R. hadn’t been born, Cliff would’ve been president!
ALAN BEAM (Randolph Powell)
Alan was a rising star at Smithfield Bennett, the law firm that represented the Ewings, but he wasn’t afraid to stand up for what he believed in – and above all, he believed in Cliff, whose congressional campaign he managed. (Alan even had the courage to wear a “Barnes for Congress” button to Jock’s birthday dinner!) Too bad it was all a ruse: Alan really worked for J.R., who wanted to sabotage Cliff’s campaign from the inside. The plan worked like a charm, but when J.R. and Alan had a falling out, Alan became a prime suspect in J.R.’s shooting. (FYI: He didn’t do it.)
COUNCILMAN MARTIN COLE (Allen Case)
When the Ewings needed a candidate to run against Cliff for state senate, they recruited Cole, a Fort Worth city councilman who had the right platform (pro-gun, anti-abortion) and connections (he was married to Senator Orloff’s niece Nancy) but the wrong personality – which is to say he had none. With Cliff gaining in the polls, Jock ordered Cole to fire his speechwriter and buy more TV time; he also instructed J.R. to take Mr. Milquetoast shopping for snazzier suits. Cole won – not because of his image makeover, but because J.R. exposed Cliff’s skeletons.
SENATOR DAVE CULVER (Tom Fuccello)
Dave, the son of political legend Sam Culver, pushed through a health-care reform bill as a member of the state legislature, but once he moved to the U.S. Senate, his main duty seemed to be flying home to tell the Ewings about the doings in Washington. Interestingly, the family never seemed to mind that Dave recruited Jock for his ill-fated mission to South America. This might be because the senator was one of the Ewings’ most reliable matchmakers: Dave introduced stepmom Donna to Andrew Dowling and hooked Bobby up with Kay Lloyd.
GOVERNOR SAM CULVER (John McIntire)
Sam, a onetime Texas governor and speaker of the house, was one of Texas’s most powerful men. When Cliff was running the Office of Land Management and putting the screws to the Ewings, J.R. tried to blackmail Donna Culver, Sam’s young bride, into persuading her husband to oust Cliff from his perch. Instead, Donna confessed all to Sam, who forgave his wife and threw his support behind Cliff. Sam’s devotion to Donna was admirable, but he wasn’t perfect: After his death, she discovered Sam and Jock once staged a land grab that resulted in Sam’s uncle’s suicide.
SENATOR ANDREW DOWLING (Jim McMullan)
Dowling, possessor of the thickest head of senatorial hair this side of John F. Kerry, disagreed with lobbyist Donna Culver Krebbs on every issue, including tariffs on imported oil and U.S. intervention in Nicaragua (how topical, “Dallas”!), but that didn’t keep him from sweeping the very married, very pregnant Donna off her feet. Later, when the Justice Department was about to lay the smackdown on Ewing Oil over J.R.’s escapades in the Middle East, Dowling tipped off the family, which really should have been Dave Culver’s job, but whatever.
WALT DRISCOLL (Ben Piazza) and EDGAR RANDOLPH (Martin E. Brooks)
Here we have a pair of hapless, mustachioed bureaucrats: Driscoll was one of Cliff’s successors at the Office of Land Management, while Randolph was a federal contracting official. Both men were blackmailed by J.R., both tried to kill him (Driscoll with a car, Randolph with a gun) and both turned suicidal, except Randolph couldn’t do that right, either.
SENATOR BOBBY EWING (Patrick Duffy)
When the governor appointed Dave Culver to fill an empty U.S. Senate seat, his party tried to recruit Dave’s stepmom Donna to complete his term in Austin. She demurred, so party leaders turned to Bobby, who ran for the job and won in a landslide. Bobby then hired Cliff as his legal counsel, which might explain why he seemed so unfamiliar with the term “conflict of interest.” Not only did Senator Ewing preside over an inquiry into his father’s plan to build a resort on Lake Takapa, he also participated in a state investigation into the coup J.R. financed in Asia.
GARY EWING (Ted Shackelford)
Like Cliff, Gary didn’t let his private demons keep him from taking a stab at public service. Despite a record that included drinking, gambling, an arrest for murder (Ciji Dunne) and multiple marriages (including one to Valene when she was just 15), Gary – the middle Ewing brother – decided to run for state senator in his adopted home of California. He lost, although the electoral defeat probably stung less than the fact Gary’s wife Abby was sleeping with his opponent, Peter Hollister.
J.R. EWING (Larry Hagman)
When J.R. and Bobby were battling each other for control of Ewing Oil, J.R. tried to beat baby brother by opening a chain of cut-rate gas stations. After he plugged them on Roy Ralston’s talk show, the public clamored for J.R. to run for office (presaging Ross Perot’s use of “Larry King Live” as his political launching pad). Nothing came of this, but for awhile, Dave Culver was worried J.R. might run against him. When Dave questioned J.R.’s fitness for office (“All he knows about is oil!”), Ray reminded him about Jimmy Carter: “All he knew about was peanut farming.”
SUE ELLEN EWING (Linda Gray)
Sue Ellen is running for governor on TNT’s “Dallas,” despite the skeletons she stuffed in her closet during the original series. To recap: Sue Ellen was institutionalized for alcoholism; arrested for J.R.’s shooting; and embroiled in a series of ugly paternity suits, divorces and custody battles. Also, a drunken Sue Ellen was behind the wheel when Walt Driscoll smashed into J.R.’s car, and when J.R. was shot again, she did pull the trigger. The hits keep coming: Sue Ellen recently accepted a donation from sleazy Harris Ryland and blackmailed a coroner.
MISS ELLIE EWING FARLOW (Barbara Bel Geddes)
Miss Ellie never held office, but she was the only “Dallas”-ite who seemed to possess the political savvy needed to get things done. In her role as a leader of the civic-minded Daughters of the Alamo, she stopped high-rise apartments from being built in Mimosa Park (by the way, did Sue Ellen name that place?) and converted an abandoned building downtown into a homeless shelter. Ellie wasn’t afraid to get personal either: When Jock wanted to build a resort on Lake Takapa, she threatened to divorce him!
DONNA CULVER KREBBS (Susan Howard)
Donna was a go-to political gal: She advised stepson Dave Culver, served on the Texas Energy Commission and became an oil industry lobbyist. Like all good public servants, Donna strove for consistency: While she was married to Sam Culver, she began an affair with Ray Krebbs, then married Ray and began seeing Andrew Dowling (while pregnant with Ray’s child). Donna divorced Ray, gave birth to their daughter Margaret, married Dowling and moved to Washington – where she hopefully found the happy ending that eluded her in Dallas.
KAY LLOYD (Karen Kopins)
When the feds discovered J.R. tried to blow up the Middle East to boost domestic oil prices (no, really), the Justice Department shut down Ewing Oil and prohibited the family from using the company name again. Bobby went to work reclaiming the name with help from Kay, a Dowling aide who lived a fabulous lifestyle (chauffered limousine, swanky apartment, designer duds) despite the meager salary she must’ve received as a Capitol Hill staffer. Bobby and Kay became an item, but the romance died when she wasn’t willing to move to Dallas. (Can you blame her?)
SENATOR HENRY HARRISON O’DELL (Howard Duff)
To reclaim the Ewing Oil name, Bobby turned to Jock’s old friend O’Dell, a powerful senator who was eager to help – but only if Bobby agreed to buy him a retirement castle in Scotland. (It turned out O’Dell wasn’t fond of the unnamed state he represented, which he called a “mosquito-infested swamp.”) Bobby was reluctant to play O’Dell’s game until Kay told him that’s how Washington works. In the end, Bobby got the Ewing Oil name back, O’Dell got his castle – and hopefully, the senator’s constituents got a more honorable representative.
SENATOR “WILD BILL” ORLOFF (Norman Alden)
State Senator Orloff was a friendly, backslapping good old boy who did just about anything the Ewings asked of him. Did his eagerness to please have anything to do with the fact the Ewings bought Orloff the house he shared with his pretty little wife Dorothy? Good-government crusader Cliff thought so. When J.R.’s disillusioned secretary/mistress Julie leaked a copy of the trust deed to Cliff, he exposed the Ewing-Orloff shenanigans and Orloff was forced to resign his seat. But he and Dorothy kept their house.
STEPHANIE ROGERS (Lesley-Anne Down)
When Cliff emerged as a public hero after leading an inquiry into an Exxon Valdez-style oil spill involving a Ewing Oil tanker (honestly, how did this company stay in business?), he toyed with the idea of running for governor. Enter Stephanie Rogers, the British-accented PR whiz who promised Cliff she would further polish his image and get him elected. When that didn’t happen, Cliff fired Stephanie, who disappeared faster than anyone could say, “Fake Alexis.”
GREG and ABBY SUMNER (William Devane, Donna Mills)
Sumner was a California state legislator running for U.S. Senate when Gary’s wife Abby offered him a campaign check from J.R. Sumner declined the money but won the seat, only to resign weeks later to go into business. Later, Sumner and Abby married and he went after an appointment as trade representative to Japan – which she got instead.
SHERIFF FENTON WASHBURN (Barry Corbin)
Washburn was your stereotypical big-bellied Texas sheriff. Although the Ewings owned him, Washburn didn’t hesitate to exert his authority when the family ran afoul of the law: He arrested Jock for Hutch McKinney’s murder, hauled J.R. in for questioning in Kristin Shepard’s death and threatened to arrest Sue Ellen for manslaughter after the car accident that paralyzed Mickey Trotter. He responded slowly when Miss Ellie was kidnapped, which might explain why the next time the Ewings needed the police, there was a new sheriff in town: Burnside (Ken Swofford).
GOVERNOR MARK WHITE (Himself)
White attended the 1985 Ewing Rodeo, giving him the distinction of being the only real-life politician to appear on “Dallas.” (Rival soap “Dynasty” once hosted Gerald Ford and Henry Kissinger.) Of course, White’s cameo ended up being part of Pam’s dream, which might explain why his speech to the rodeogoers was so hilariously brief (“Thank you. Thank you. It’s really great to be with y’all up here today. Thank you.”). Think about it: a politician who limits public pronouncements to just 16 words? If that’s not a dream, I don’t know what is.
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