The Dallas Decoder Guide to Pamela’s Mother, Afton Cooper

Dallas Decoder Guide to Pamela's Mother, Afton Cooper 1

In “Battle Lines,” the first episode of the new “Dallas’s” second season, Pamela (Julie Gonzalo) reveals she’s the daughter of Cliff and Afton, portrayed by Ken Kercheval and Audrey Landers in the original series. Everyone knows Cliff’s story, but how well do you remember Afton? Here’s a refresher.



She started off as J.R.’s gal. Afton, a Mississippi girl of modest means, came to Southfork in 1981 to attend the wedding of her brother Mitch (Leigh McCloskey) to Lucy Ewing (Charlene Tilton). J.R. (Larry Hagman) was instantly smitten with hot-to-trot Afton – and the feeling was mutual. In fact, Afton was so fascinated with J.R., she slept with him during the wedding reception – in the bed he shared with Sue Ellen! Not cool, Afton!



With Cliff, Afton found true love. J.R. made Afton spy on his nemesis Cliff (Ken Kercheval), but she ended up falling in love with the poor schmuck. She quit working for J.R., ditched the bad girl act and became Cliff’s main squeeze, sticking by him through thick and thin. Although Cliff often took Afton for granted, she’d do anything for him. Once, she even slept with a creepy refinery owner to help Cliff seal a big deal. That’s love, people.


Pam’s pal

Afton and Pam: BFFs. As Cliff’s steady girlfriend, Afton grew close to his mom Rebecca (Priscilla Pointer) and sister Pam (Victoria Principal). But wise Afton was always suspicious of Cliff and Pam’s half-sister Katherine (Morgan Brittany). When she realized Katherine was trying to steal Bobby (Patrick Duffy), Afton warned Pam and everyone else, but no one took her seriously. Silly Barneses. When Afton speaks, you ought to listen!


Best of enemies

Afton and Sue Ellen: Not BFFs. When Cliff began to fall in love with Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) again, Afton didn’t take it lying down. In one of the classic “Dallas” showdowns, she confronted Sue Ellen and told her to stay away from Cliff. Afton: “We both do seem to have the same taste in men.” Sue Ellen: “The fact that you were sleeping with my ex-husband doesn’t mean we have the same taste in anything.” She’s got you there, Afton.

Saving the day ... again

Saving the day … again

Bobby’s savior. When Afton went to the Ewing Oil offices late one night to confront J.R. over his latest scheme against Cliff, J.R. was nowhere to be found – but Bobby was bleeding on the floor! (He’d been shot by Katherine. See what I mean about Afton always being right?) She called an ambulance for Bobby – and then she went home, packed her bags and left town to get away from these drama addicts. This was her smartest move yet.


Otherwise engaged

Mommy? Yes. Wifey? No. A few years after she left him, Cliff discovered Afton had become a single mom to an adorable moppet named Pamela Rebecca (Jenna Pangburn). He became convinced the child was his and proposed to Afton, but she lied and told him another man was the father. Afton feared Cliff was still obsessed with the Ewings, and she didn’t want him anywhere near their daughter. Once again, Afton was right.

What pipes!

What pipes!

Oh, and girlfriend can sing too! You know how TNT’s “Dallas” features pop music and everyone thinks it’s so cool? Well, before Adele and Johnny Cash began supplying the Ewings with their own personal soundtrack, that was Afton’s job. She worked as a singer, which gave “Dallas” a clever excuse to showcase Landers’ gorgeous voice. Landers wrote the songs she performed on the show, including Afton’s signature, “Steal Me Away.”

Who’s that girl?

Who’s that girl?

Nothing to see here. Move along. The 1996 reunion flick “J.R. Returns” ends with Cliff finally giving up his fight with J.R. and reuniting with Afton and the teenaged Pamela Rebecca (Deborah Kellner). It now seems like the events of this movie didn’t really happen (was it another one of Pam’s dreams?), but fear not: Maybe Afton will get another shot at a happy ending when she visits the new “Dallas” later this season.

What do you remember about Afton Cooper? Share your comments below and read more “Dallas Decoder Guides.”


  1. S.D. Cole says:

    I watched this show faithfully. Now what about Gary’s twin Ewings with Valene. Lucy’s brother & sister? Anyplace for them in this newer series?

  2. The interesting thing about Afton, is that she’s an example of a character whose importance isn’t immediately apparent. When she was introduced, it was as Mitch’s sister, at a time when Mitch was a regular recurring character as Lucy’s significant other. Yet, in the history of Dallas, Afton is far more important than Mitch, something you wouldn’t have expected when she first appeared.

    The 1996 TV movie is interesting. It must be considered not cannon, given that Christopher clearly knows Pamela Rebecca quite well. Only to forget her and marry her later? Probably not.

    • I think it’s safe to assume “J.R. Returns” is no longer cannon. Too bad, because I kinda like that movie. I’m perfectly content to accept that the second reunion movie, “War of the Ewings,” wasn’t cannon. Good performances and direction, but otherwise lacking.

      • joesiegler says:

        Uh, the keeper of the franchise now, Cynthia Cidre has said that the two reunion movies are non canon. Everything in the old series is still canon, but “JR Returns” & “War of the Ewings” is not. When the new series started, she and Hagman said “they weren’t very good”. I’ll agree with that for the second one, but not the first. “JR Returns” was a spectacular reunion movie, and if that was the last ever Dallas, I would have been good with that.

        The now non canon-icity of these movies is probably good, because at the end of War of the Ewings, we would have had another variable in the mineral rights issue on Southfork, as Carter McKay bought Ray’s Land, which was given to him by Jock. The fact that owning the land doesn’t mean you can drill was brought up then, too.

        Which makes me think in the modern show – what about Ray’s land? Is that now “The Henderson Plot”, or is it the land that is now owned by our legally challenged brother Drew? What the heck happened to the plot of land that Ray owned from Jock?

      • “Legally challenged brother Drew.” I like that. Good questions about the Henderson plot and the land that Jock gave Ray. Does Ray’s little rambler still stand? Perhaps Margaret Krebbs can live there once she shows up on the new show.

  3. joesiegler says:

    Also, I’m glad you touched on the Afton in JR Returns. Cliff was a much nicer character there, and it’s likely because he’s counterbalanced by someone like Afton (or the desire to be with Afton in this case).

    I also had forgotten she was the sister of Lucy’s ex husband. God, there’s a ton of details. In the real Southfork’s gift shop, when you area going into the area you go to for a tour of southfork, they have a gigantic map on the wall, attempting to show the ENTIRE Ewing bloodline with marriages, divorces, kids, affairs, etc.. I wonder if they have kept that up with the modern show. I haven’t been there since the show came back on, I’m only 12 miles away, I should check it out. 🙂

  4. Gosh that was exciting that Afton “put out” with J. R. right in his marriage bed! She initiated it, not J. R., thats whats even more interesting! But she the game. I’ve got to say C. B., what was even more exciting was the anticipation of Sue Ellen possibly going to look under the covers of her bed b/c of her “suspicious” nature & then the brilliant acting in terms of anguish that Linda Gray displays when she rips back the covers & sees that J. R. & Afton have left the DNA evidence right there in her very own sleeping quarters! Gosh that was GREAT ACTING C. B.!

  5. HORRIBLE hypocritical tart. Her daughter was no better. NOT COOL Afton is spot on!!!!


  1. […] into their “Battle Lines” script, including Pamela’s references to her namesake aunt and mother Afton, as well as the mention of Westar during Elena’s business meeting. (And is that the old Oil […]

  2. […] just Bobby and Pam!) and J.R./Pam clashes; and everything you need to know about Pamela’s mother Afton Cooper, who is slated to visit the new “Dallas” in a few […]

  3. […] I’m a bit baffled by Bobby’s hostility toward her (“Pull in your claws, Afton”). Afton once saved his life; you’d think he’d be a little nicer. On the other hand: I like how “Guilt and Innocence” […]

  4. […] played on the original series DALLAS, Dallas Decoder has a couple of great posts you can read: The Dallas Decoder Guide to Pamela’s Mother, Afton Cooper and The Dal-List: Afton Cooper’s 5 Greatest Hits. I must say that I enjoyed her all-to-brief […]

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