Poor Lucy Ewing never found Mr. Right — but not for lack of trying. To mark Valentine’s Day, Dallas Decoder spoke to Charlene Tilton about her character’s many romances. Read her memories below, along with an update on her latest projects.
Ray Krebbs (Steve Kanaly)
Back in the day, that relationship was very controversial. I was so much younger and looked so much younger than Steve. In our first scene in the hayloft, Lucy tells Ray, “Call me her name. Call me Pam.” That was some kinky stuff! [Laughs] I honestly didn’t get it until I watched it years later. I also remember Steve’s response when I walked in the room and we met for the first time. He said, “Oh shoot, she’s just a baby!” But Steve was so sweet. He made me feel very comfortable during filming. And Steve and his wife became great friends of mine — and that has continued until this day.
Willie Gust (Greg Evigan)
Oh, I loved him! He kidnapped Lucy and made her sing “Silver Threads and Golden Needles”! [Laughs] That was hysterical. Not one of Lucy’s brightest moments, but I loved doing that episode. Greg was great. Here we were, filming in these offbeat places around Texas, and he and I would hang out and have lunch or dinner together. He was an unbelievably talented actor and so handsome. I don’t know if you’ve seen him recently, but — hello! — that man looks great. He and his wife are the nicest people. He’s always been such a family man. He’s a gem.
Kit Mainwaring (Mark Wheeler)
My favorite. Mark was an extremely, extremely talented actor, and I loved the storyline. Lord have mercy, there was nothing like this on television at the time. Kit was the son of a wealthy oil family, and J.R. wanted my character to marry his, even though he was secretly gay. The show wasn’t even allowed to use that word at the time. We had to say “homosexual.” But the writers did such a great job handling it. And I loved the storyline on so many levels. When J.R. threatens to expose Kit, Lucy says, “I’ll take care of it” and she shuts J.R. up. I look back at that episode and I have to tell you: I am so proud of my performance and Mark’s performance too.
Alan Beam (Randolph Powell)
Boy, wasn’t Alan a schemer! He really hurt Lucy when he teamed up with J.R., and then of course J.R. brought him down. But I loved Randolph. He was a gentleman: very nice, very talented — and with a very hairy chest. [Laughs] We had several bedroom scenes. He was cuddly!
Dr. Mitch Cooper (Leigh McCloskey)
Leigh is awesome. Like Mitch, he’s very intellectual, very cerebral. I loved all of our scenes together. I’ll never forget the first time Mitch comes on the screen. He’s working as a valet parking attendant, and Lucy comes out of the nightclub drunk. As soon as he smiles, you think, “I bet every woman on the planet wishes she were in Lucy’s drunken stilettos right now!” [Laughs] Mitch was Lucy’s knight in shining armor. He didn’t care about her family’s wealth. But after they got married, the producers didn’t really know what to do with us. I think that’s when they began to write Lucy into a corner. I did love when Lucy hired the maid to do all her cleaning behind Mitch’s back. I thought, “That’s a good idea!” [Laughs]
Roger Larson (Dennis Redfield)
When Roger kidnapped Lucy and raped her, she became pregnant. I was pregnant in real life, and I had to do all of these episodes where I sit around saying, “I don’t want this baby.” As an actress, I felt I couldn’t give it my all because I didn’t want to affect my pregnancy with my beautiful daughter. So I would go home every night and say, “Mommy loves you.” I didn’t go as deep with that storyline as I normally would have. But Dennis is a wonderful, wonderful actor. And how funny is this? Years later, my daughter was going to a performing arts high school in Los Angeles where Dennis was teaching. I ran into him and it was so lovely. I was kind of sorry when I heard he quit acting because he was so good.
Bill Johnson (Nicholas Hammond)
Oh. My. Goodness. It’s so funny. I don’t remember my storyline with him. All I remember is that I was with Friedrich von Trapp! [Laughs] I am a “Sound of Music” fanatic. I’ve literally seen the movie over 150 times — and I am not kidding you. So when I saw his name on the call sheet in the makeup room, I started screaming, “Nicholas Hammond!” I was so enamored of him. All I wanted to do was ask him questions about Julie Andrews and filming in the Alps and Salzburg. Every time the director would yell, “Cut,” I’d ask Nicholas a ton of questions. “So when you were doing the ‘Do-Re-Me’ scene, what was that like?” I’m sure I was really annoying. [Laughs] But he was very polite and nice.
Mickey Trotter (Timothy Patrick Murphy)
My Timmy Pat. He and I became really great friends. We’d hang out off the set when we weren’t filming, even after “Dallas.” I genuinely adored him. I did not know that he was living a gay lifestyle. I had no idea. It makes me really sad because back in those days, a lot of actors felt like it would hurt their career to be out. When I learned he was dying of AIDS, I called him and we talked but he wouldn’t see me. He wouldn’t let anyone see him that sick. So I think of him with a lot of sadness because to hide a lifestyle, and to hide being sick, that seems like a lot of torture to me. But I loved our storyline, and I loved how the show pushed the envelope with Mickey’s death. The scene where I break down and lash out at Ray is one of my favorites. We did it in one take.
Peter Richards (Christopher Atkins)
I love Christopher. He was great, but what a storyline! Here’s Lucy chasing this young man and he’s sneaking around with her aunt Sue Ellen. It was so provocative. And one of my very favorite scenes that I ever got to do on the show was the party where Lucy discovers that Peter is not interested in her and she gets drunk and tells him off. I have to say, as an actress, I’m really proud of that performance. And of course J.R. was behind the whole thing. He played Lucy like a puppet. He pulled all the strings! [Laughs]
Eddie Cronin (Frederic Lehne)
This was a fun storyline because it gave me something different to do, but I wasn’t quite sure how believable it was. Lucy parks her beautiful Mercedes so she can take the bus to the diner to work as a waitress? [Laughs] And then of course Eddie loved Betty, who also worked at the diner. I remember the fight scene between Lucy and Betty. Kathleen York is really a tall woman. She’s, like, 5’11 and I’m 5’2. So that was pretty funny.
Casey Denault (Andrew Stevens)
Andrew Stevens is another fabulous actor. He was very handsome and we would hang together off the set as well. He was there by himself and I was too. I really liked working with him.
Alex Barton (Michael Wilding)
Let me tell you: Michael Wilding was so handsome and nice. His character was interested in J.R.’s wife Cally, and I kept thinking, “Let Lucy come in and break this up!” [Laughs] I thought he was such a gentleman. He’s Elizabeth Taylor’s son in real life, and boy, did he have his mother’s eyes. Just gorgeous. Mesmerizing. He’s the one that got away!
Charlene Tilton’s Next Role: Tammy Faye Bakker
So what is Charlene Tilton up to these days?
The beloved “Dallas” star is continuing work on a one-woman stage production on the life of Tammy Faye Bakker. Tilton hopes to take the show on tour before hitting New York City.
Tilton’s other role: proud mom. Her daughter is country music star Cherish Lee, whose self-titled album is available from iTunes. One of the songs, “Nowhere,” has even inspired a fan-made video that features clips of Lucy and her many boyfriends.
To keep up with Tilton, be sure to like her Facebook page.
Which of Lucy Ewing’s love interests did you like best? Share your comments below and read more features from Dallas Decoder.