The Dallas Decoder Guide to Valene Ewing

Another reunion

Another reunion

Valene Ewing (Joan Van Ark) will be reunited with her in-laws in “Ewings Unite!,” tonight’s episode of TNT’s “Dallas.” Val appeared occasionally on the original “Dallas” and was the heroine of its “Knots Landing” spinoff, but how much do you remember about her? Here’s a refresher.

There goes the neighborhood

There goes the neighborhood

Val loves Gary. Val was waitressing in a diner when handsome Gary Ewing (Ted Shackelford) walked in and sat down. “What will it be?” Val asked him. Gary’s response: “I don’t know. What does a man in love eat for lunch?” It was a cute beginning for what became television’s most tortured love story. During the next half-century, Val and Gary had three weddings, three children and more crises than you can count, including alcoholism (his), multiple personality disorder (hers) and staged deaths (theirs). Now the couple faces one of their greatest challenges yet: Sue Ellen’s flirtation with Gary!

And teddy makes three

And teddy makes three

All her children. Val and Gary are the parents of Lucy (Charlene Tilton), whom Jock and Miss Ellie raised after J.R. drove Val and Gary away from Southfork. Lucy grew up angry with her parents for abandoning her, but the family reconciled after a few therapeutic splashes in the Southern California surf. Meanwhile, Val and Gary went on to have two more kids: twins Bobby and Betsy, although for awhile they were kidnapped and Val believed they were dead. Hey, that gives her something in common with her new sister-in-law Ann Ewing. They should share a muffin sometime.

Mr. Dreamy

Mr. Dreamy

Val’s favorite brother-in-law: Bobby. Oh, Bobby! Dear, sweet Bobby (Patrick Duffy). Val could always count on him. When she was estranged from Lucy, who arranged a mother/daughter reconciliation? Bobby, of course. He also reunited Val and Gary, discovered the house on Seaview Circle that became their home and rode to Val’s rescue when she had a cancer scare. Is it any wonder Val always seemed to look at Bobby with dreamy eyes? Hey, if Sue Ellen can have a fling with Gary, why can’t Val get a little something going on with Bobby? On second thought, cancel that muffin with Ann.

Mr. Nightmare

Mr. Nightmare

Least favorite brother-in-law? Take a guess. Val was always one of the kindest, most pure-hearted members of the Ewing family – except where J.R. (Larry Hagman) was concerned. Over the years, she called him “disgusting,” “a troublemaker” and “a vile, evil man.” J.R. declared she was a “tramp,” “a wimp,” and “southern trash.” You weren’t really surprised that Val skipped his funeral, were you? Remember what she told Gary in 1980, after finding out that J.R. had been shot: “If J.R. was dead, I honestly couldn’t mourn him.” Harsh? Perhaps, but at least it shows Val is a woman of her word.

That’s not a gun, is it?

That’s not a gun, is it?

Aiding and comforting the enemy. After Kristin (Mary Crosby) shot him, J.R. exiled her to California, where she wound up on Gary and Val’s doorstep. Val allowed Kristin to stay with them despite Gary’s objections, which turned out to be perfectly justified. Within days of her arrival, Kristin wrecked the marriage of neighbors Kenny and Ginger Ward. When Val confronted her, Kristin confessed that she was pregnant and scared, although she didn’t reveal that the child was J.R.’s. It was a reminder of what makes Val so special: Only as someone as nice as Val could get someone as devious as Kristin to reveal her softer side.

Author! Author!

Author! Author!

The original gossip girl. Val wasn’t just television’s first desperate housewife, she was also its original gossip girl. She wrote a novel inspired by the Ewings called “Capricorn Crude,” although J.R. struggled to get the title right. Here’s J.R. meeting Joe Cooper, Val’s editor: “You know, there’s been rumors flying all around Dallas about a book called ‘Corn Crude’ or ‘Crude Porn’ or ‘Corn Pone.’” Joe: “‘Capricorn Crude.’” J.R.: “Yeah, that’s it!” When J.R. declared he was “tickled” about Val’s literary success, he wasn’t kidding. He bought the publishing company – not to shut down the book, but to reap the profits.

Step off, Abby

Step off, bitch

Val always gets her man. Here’s the most important thing you need to know about Val: She always triumphs over husband-stealing hussies. Yeah, Abby Cunningham (Donna Mills) snagged Gary – but only for a little while. He came back to Val eventually, didn’t he? The same thing happened after his relationships with every woman in his life, including Jill Bennett, Kate Whittaker and “Sally’s friend” (long story). And don’t forget about Ciji Dunne! When she got too close to Gary, Val pushed her so hard she hit her head on a coffee table and was knocked out. In other words: Watch your back, Sue Ellen!

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


  1. I know I already to,d you on Twitter, but I saw this posting again….. When Valene tore into Sue Ellen last night in Ewings Unite, I was like Daaaaaaammmmmm Chris was Sooooooo right! Watch you back, Sue Ellen, indeed! I burst out laughing…..I think she called Sue Ellen more names in one conversation than anyone (other than JR) ever did total! I loved Sue Ellen’s annoyed, exasperated look at her!

    You know, I do wish on the one hand we could have seen what happened when Val and Gary talked after Lucy and Bobby went for coffee. However, based on the confrontation between Val and Sue Ellen, my imagination just runs wild! I think it is fun to imagine what that conversation must have been like!

    • Ha ha! Good point about Val’s litany of names for Sue Ellen (“bitch,” “monster,” etc.). I’m just glad Val didn’t push Sue Ellen. Nothing good ever comes when a Clements pushes or yells at you. (Ask Ciji and Joshua.)

  2. Anonymous says:

    Who sent Elena the email claiming to be
    Christopher breaking up with her

  3. I like Valene, but both she & Priscilla Presley/Jenna Wade have Cheshire cat facelifts, its hard 2 c their raw emotions now.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I love Valene and definitely want her back on Dallas every now and then

  5. I remember Valene calling Sue Ellen a bitch in the episode of JR’s funeral on the new series, but I can’t remember any fight between the two women some time in the past. I know that JR was Val’s most-hated enemy, but Sue Ellen? Did she indeed have an affair with Gary? When was that? Or are there any other reasons for Val to be so mad at Sue Ellen? Thanks in advance for enlightening me! 🙂

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