Dallas Parallels: Spousal Secrets

Barbara Bel Geddes, Battle Lines, Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Mastectomy Part 1, Miss Ellie Ewing, TNT

Jock and Miss Ellie have the most stable marriage on the original “Dallas,” often serving as role models for the younger couples at Southfork. Bobby and Ann continue this tradition on the new series, although they’ve also inherited Jock and Ellie’s penchant for keeping secrets from each other.

During the old show’s third season, after Jock suffers a near-death experience on a hunting trip, he decides to reveal something to Ellie that he’s hidden from her for 40 years: He was previously married to a woman named Amanda. In “Mastectomy, Part 1,” Jock finally tells Ellie about the marriage, explaining how he divorced Amanda after she suffered a mental breakdown and was committed to a sanitarium.

In true “Dallas” style, Jock’s timing is lousy. He comes clean to Ellie on the night she was planning to tell him she might have breast cancer. When Ellie hears Jock’s admission, she’s too upset to share her news. “You walked out on a sick woman. If I get sick, are you going to walk out on me?” she asks.

Flash forward to “Battle Lines,” the new “Dallas’s” second-season opener, when Ann comes home and tells Bobby something she has hidden from him: During her first marriage to Harris, Ann and Harris had a daughter named Emma, who was kidnapped and presumed dead. Unlike Ellie, who ends up rushing out of the room after learning Jock’s news, Bobby remains calm when he hears Ann’s revelation. When she tells him Harris claims to have found Emma and that a DNA sample from Ann could confirm the young woman’s identity, Bobby simply says, “Well, OK, then. Let’s get your DNA checked, Annie.”

This difference aside, the staging of the scenes is almost identical: Jock and Ann both sit on Southfork sofas when they confess their secrets to their spouses, who are seated to next to them. The two confessions also trigger repercussions: Ellie remains angry at Jock for awhile, finally forgiving him after her cancer surgery. Likewise, Bobby harbors lingering resentment toward Ann until the night before J.R.’s funeral, when he finally blows up at her. (“I am pissed!”)

By the end of the season, like Jock and Ellie before them, Bobby and Ann have patched things up — until the next secret comes out, no doubt.


‘Her Name Was … Amanda’

Dallas, Jim Davis, Jock Ewing, Mastectomy Part 1

Unwrapped wife

In “Mastectomy, Part 1,” a third-season “Dallas” episode, Miss Ellie (Barbara Bel Geddes) sits on a sofa in the Southfork den while Jock (Jim Davis) stands at the bar.

ELLIE: Jock, I think you’ve stirred that drink long enough.

JOCK: Yeah, I guess you’re right. [Carries two drinks to the sofa, hands one to her] Miss Ellie, when you’ve been married as long as we have, you kind of sense when something’s wrong.

ELLIE: Yes, I guess we’re beyond keeping things from each other.

JOCK: [Sits next to her] I could see it in your face.

ELLIE: I wanted to talk, Jock.

JOCK: I guess you picked it up from me.

ELLIE: The other way around. [Smiles]

JOCK: Well, I never really knew how to tell you, but I must have been on the verge of it a hundred times.

ELLIE: Tell me what?

JOCK: About Amanda.

ELLIE: Amanda?

JOCK: Here I wait 40 years to tell you, and wouldn’t you know, it all comes out backwards?

ELLIE: [Sets down her drink] Jock, I don’t understand what you’re saying.

JOCK: Ellie, I’m trying to tell you about my first wife.

ELLIE: Your first wife?

JOCK: Yes. I was married and divorced before I met you. Her name was, is Amanda.

ELLIE: What are you talking about?

JOCK: [Rises] Well, when I went hunting with the boys a few weeks ago and got shot, I didn’t know whether I was going to make it or not. I realized I had an obligation to her.

ELLIE: [Shouting] Obligation?

JOCK: Miss Ellie, she’s not a well woman. She had a complete mental breakdown, shortly after we were married. The doctor finally advised divorce. I paid all of her sanitarium bills. I figured that if anything happened to me, there ought to be some sort of trust fund to continue those payments. [Sits down again] But I had to talk to you first.

ELLIE: You divorced a woman because she was sick?

JOCK: No, Miss Ellie. It was on doctors’ advice.

ELLIE: And you kept this from me? All this time?

JOCK: I wanted to tell you, Miss Ellie, believe me. I didn’t want to lose you to Digger. I wasn’t so sure of myself in those days.

ELLIE: What else haven’t you told me, Jock? What else?

JOCK: Nothing. It was a long time ago, over 40 years, Ellie.

ELLIE: “A long time ago.” You walked out on a sick woman. If I get sick, are you going to walk out on me?

Jock looks down as Ellie gets up and rushes out of the room.


‘Her Name Was Emma’

Ann Ewing, Battles Lines, Brenda Strong, Dallas, TNT

Undisclosed daughter

In “Battle Lines,” a second-season “Dallas” episode, Bobby (Patrick Duffy) is standing at the Southfork kitchen counter when Ann (Brenda Strong) enters, holding an envelope.

BOBBY: Hey, honey. [Notices she seems upset, walks toward her as she approaches the sofa] Annie? Honey, what’s wrong? [Sits with her, holds her hand] Honey? Hey.

ANN: You told me to come to you when I was ready. Well, I have something to tell you. Twenty-two years ago, I had a daughter. Her name was Emma. When Emma was 18 months old, I was at the state fair. I turned away from her stroller to get a soda, just for a moment. [Begins sobbing] And when I turned back, she was gone. Someone had taken her. Everyone searched. But Emma was never found. [Sniffles] I saw Harris this afternoon. He told me he’d found Emma. But before he’ll tell me where she is, I have to give him a tape I made of him admitting to laundering money. [Bobby pulls his hand away.] I’m sorry I never told you.

BOBBY: How do you know what Ryland told you is true? What if he’s making all of this up, just to get back this … tape that you’ve made?

ANN: [Pulls a paper and photograph out of the envelope, hands it to Bobby, who examines it] Harris says he had his DNA checked against this young woman … and that I should do the same.

BOBBY: Well, OK, then. Let’s get your DNA checked, Annie.

What do you think of spousal secrets that rock the marriages of Jock and Miss Ellie and Bobby and Ann? Share your comments below and read more “Dallas Parallels.”


  1. Interesting parallel

    I wonder if Ann knows about Bobby’s son with Jenna!

  2. Plain and simple, Jock and Ann both should have told the truth a lot sooner to their respective spouses! As we Dallas fans all know, secrets always have a way of coming out! Thankfully Ellie and Bobby did forgive them!! But I did love when Bobby yelled “I’m pissed” at Ann!

    • I agree, Jennifer. And wasn’t Patrick Duffy great in that “I’m pissed” scene?

      • Jennifer Irons says:

        Yes, Patrick was wonderful in that scene! When he yelled “I’m pissed”, I think I may have jumped at least a foot in the air, LOL! He NEVER got that angry on the original series! He did a great job!

  3. Dan in WI says:

    Secrets like these make for good TV. But I often find myself thinking just once (especially in larger ensemble shows) I’d like to see one dependable solid marriage.

  4. cstephandoerr says:

    Interesting parallels, especially in the staging of the scenes. On the whole, Bobby has more to deal with than “just” the daughter that his wife failed to mention – ever… In the same breath, he finds out that Harris Ryland is trying to launder money and that his wife went all secret agent in order to keep him from doing so! It would be interesting to know how long before the “I’m pissed” outburst in episode 2.08, Patrick Duffy knew about Bobby’s true feelings. His show of support for Ann in the early episodes of the season sure looks genuine…

    • Good point. You’re right: Bobby has more to deal with than just Ann’s daughter. His wife springs quite a few surprises on him, both in this scene and in the episodes that follow.

  5. I like Barbara Bel Geddes’ picture above the article. I can see why Jock kept it from her!
    Bel Geddes was such an actress; she could make dull lines sound interesting just by the way she phrased the sentence.

  6. I agree with cstephandoerr that Bobby had a lot more baggage to go along with the core secret. I think Ellie was a victim of the worse timing imaginable! I did always think it was interesting that Jock’s reason for never telling her was that he wasn’t sure she would still want him if she knew… the original writers were so talented at giving great insights into these complex characters with small statements like these.

    Sunnycd is so right- the picture is amazing, I wouldn’t want to tell her either! When you see the two of them side by side you believe they could have been mother and son.

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