Dallas Decoder’s Summer Vacations Guide

Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman

Slippery when wet

Planning to hit the road this summer? To have the happiest of holidays, let the Ewings be your guide.

Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Julie Grey, Larry Hagman, Tina Louise

Lurid rendezvous

Mix business with pleasure. Experts say you should unplug from work when you’re on vacation, but don’t tell that to J.R. Ewing. Did this man ever take a break? Not only did J.R. pursue multi-million-dollar oil deals during his various honeymoons with Sue Ellen and Cally, he also routinely brought secretaries like Julie and Kristin with him on his out-of-town “business trips.” Hey, don’t knock it. Who else was going to take J.R.’s dictation when he was on the road?

Dallas, John Ross Ewing, Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing, Tyler Banks


Save money on lodging. Tempted to splurge on fancy hotels when you travel? Don’t be; the Ewings rarely did. Sue Ellen and her bratty kid shacked up with the Farlows during their sojourn in San Angelo. Likewise, when Kristin went to California, she crashed at Gary and Val’s Knots Landing pad. Sure, she was a houseguest from hell — is it that hard to put the cap back on the toothpaste tube, Kristin? — but at least she enlivened that dead-end cul-de-sac by breaking up a few marriages.

April Ewing, Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Patrick Duffy, Sheree J. Wilson

Hills alive

Remember: It’s a small world. Don’t be surprised if a familiar face or two shows up unexpectedly on your vacation. This happens to the Ewings all the time. Bobby and Pam ran into Gary at a convention in Las Vegas, Val encountered Gary and Abby during her book tour in Dallas, Ellie was surprised to spot Clayton during her visit to Galveston, and April popped in on Bobby during J.R. and Cally’s Austrian honeymoon. Hey, now that you mention it, what was Bobby doing there anyway?

Dack Rambo, Dallas, Jack Ewing, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman

Costume drama

When in Rome. … No matter where your travels take you, follow J.R.’s lead by blending in with the locals. For example, he got into the spirit of banana-republicanism by bribing officials in Cuba and Colombia. J.R. also played cowboy when he confronted B.D. Calhoun in Los Angeles, and he went all James Bond over Angelica Nero’s ass at the masquerade ball in Martinique. One wonders, though: When Angelica fired her gun, was she trying to shoot J.R. or the bird atop his head?

Dallas, Linda Gray, Pam Ewing, Sue Ellen Ewing, Victoria Principal

In plane sight

Get off the beaten path. Sure, you can vacation in an exotic locale, but if you want real relaxation, visit a medical facility. J.R. had a grand time when he checked himself into a mental ward, while Pam once hopped around the Caribbean, touring medical clinics. Pam also dragged Sue Ellen with her to a Hong Kong hospital, which Sue Ellen really liked — although probably not as much as the time she spent guzzling booze from a Scope bottle during her own sanitarium stay.

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Patrick Duffy

Long goodbye

Be flexible. No matter how much you plan, things aren’t always going to go your way while traveling. The trick is learning to roll with the punches. Did Jock and J.R. mope around after those hillbillies ambushed them in Louisiana? Hell no! They used the occasion for some father/son bonding. Likewise, did Bobby rush home after April was killed during their Parisian honeymoon? Of course not. He hung around an extra week. (Maybe he had more sightseeing to do?)

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Pam Ewing, Patrick Duffy, Victoria Principal

Revolutionary road

Don’t forget the souvenirs! No trip is complete without something to remember it by. Sue Ellen returned from the Orient with a bunch of toys for John Ross. Donna was sporting a fur coat when she and Ray returned from their honeymoon in New York City. John Ross came home from his honeymoon in Tulun with an ugly statue. Of course, when it comes to vacation mementos, no one tops Bobby, who returned from his New Orleans trip with the most notable souvenir in “Dallas” history — a wife!

Bobby Ewing, Clayton Farlow, Dallas, Donna Reed, Howard Keel, Miss Ellie Ewing Farlow, Patrick Duffy

Slim shady

Never travel with Clayton Farlow. If you heed no other advice here, please don’t ignore this one. Clayton may look and act like a kindly grandpa, but take it from us: This dude is shady. How many times did he whisk Miss Ellie away on some mysterious extended vacation? After one trip, she came home with a completely different face! The worst offense came in the next-to-last season, when Clayton took Mama away yet again … and never brought her back. Sure hope she packed well.

Where are your favorite Ewing road trips? Share your memories in the comments section below and read more Dallas Decoder Guides.

The Dallas Decoder Guide to the McKay Family

Carter McKay, Dallas, George Kennedy

Big kahuna

The McKays are back! The family that feuded with the Ewings during the original “Dallas’s” later years is slowly creeping back into TNT’s sequel series: Hunter, a McKay grandson, was introduced earlier this year, while this week’s episode, “Victims of Love,” will bring back Tracey, who’s now played by Melinda Clarke. Need a refresher on the McKays and where they fit into the Ewing-verse? Read on.

Carter McKay, Dallas, George Kennedy

Devil next door

Carter, the meanest McKay. When Dreadful Jenna Wade™ forced our beloved Ray Krebbs to move with her to “Europe,” he sold his Southfork-adjacent ranch to Carter McKay (George Kennedy), who turned out to be the crummiest neighbor a Ewing could ask for. Carter constantly threw loud parties and borrowed Miss Ellie’s tools without returning them. Kidding! The real reason Carter sucked was because he started a range war with the Ewings in a convoluted scheme to seize control of Section 40, the oil-drenched Southfork parcel that everyone on “Dallas” tries to seize at one point or another. Although the Ewings won the war and kept their land, Carter had the last laugh: In “Dallas’s” final episodes, he sold his ranch and saddled the Ewings with an even worse next-door neighbor — Michelle Stevens.

Bobby Ewing, Carter McKay, Dallas, George Kennedy, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman

Big fish, little fish

… And also the sharpest. When Carter wasn’t bringing down the Braddock County property values, he was shaking up the oil biz. Carter was revealed as the brains behind Westar, Ewing Oil’s biggest rival, and the puppeteer who had been pulling Jeremy Wendell’s strings for years. (All together, “Dallas” diehards: Yeah, right!) Actually, Carter really did display solid business acumen. For example, when J.R. and Bobby (Larry Hagman, Patrick Duffy) backed out of a deal to supply the Soviets with Texas crude — citing patriotism! — Carter stole the deal and schooled the brothers on how the world really worked, delivering a prophetic, Chayefskian speech (“Whatever America used to be, it isn’t anymore. …”). Carter’s biggest coup: Tricking J.R. into giving up control of Ewing Oil in “Dallas’s” penultimate episode!

Beth Toussaint, Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Patrick Duffy, Tracey McKay Lawton

Do the hustle

Tracey, the sexiest McKay. Bobby and Cliff were chillin’ at a pool hall one night in ’88 — because that’s how the Barneses and the Ewings rolled that year — when jean-skirted Tracey Lawton caught the eye of the recently divorced Bob. Back then, Tracey was played by Beth Toussaint, who looked a lot like “Terminator” heroine Linda Hamilton, but with poutier lips and punier biceps. Tracey turned out to be a pool shark, but that wasn’t her only secret: She was also a recent divorcee (hence the “Lawton”) and Carter’s estranged daughter. Once again, Bobby found himself playing Romeo, but his romance with this Juliet dimmed pretty quickly and Tracey soon departed Dallas. She didn’t leave in bandages like Bobby’s first Juliet, although somewhere along the way, Tracey — like Pamdid pick up a new face.

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, J. Eddie Peck, Patrick Duffy, Tommy McKay


Tommy, the nuttiest McKay. Oh, this guy was a total whack job. Tommy, Carter’s drug-dealing son, arrived at the McKay ranch after serving a jail sentence in “South America,” and when Tommy wasn’t making a quick buck by spying for J.R. or screaming in the rain, he was hitting on every woman on the show. In April’s case, Tommy hit on her literally, which prompted Bobby to beat the j. eddie peck out of him. Tommy tried to get revenge by blowing up Bobby, and when that failed, the gun-wielding loon was accidentally shot and killed during a struggle with dear old dad. Tracey told Bobby she didn’t blame him for Tommy’s death, but warned him about Carter: “Stay out of his way, Bobby. I don’t want to come to your funeral.” (Silly Tracey. The show already did that storyline!)

Dallas, Jeri Gaile, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Rose McKay

Desk job

Rose, the awesomest McKay. Although Carter was sweet on Sue Ellen, he married Rose Daniels (Jeri Gaile), an Iowa farm-girl-turned-beautician with a penchant for bold print dresses and shoulder-brushing earrings. Rose loved “Mac” and did almost anything he asked, including sleeping with Cliff Barnes so Carter could videotape the encounter and use it to derail Cliff’s resurgent political career. Poor judgment aside, Rose was a hoot because she spent most of her time sashaying around the house in heels and lingerie with a drink in her hand, and Gaile brought a lot of heart to the role, making Rose one of the brighter lights during “Dallas’s” later years. Best of all, when Rose finally got fed up with Carter, she knew how to teach him a lesson: by having sex with J.R. on her husband’s desk! Good going, darlin’.

Carter McKay, Dallas, George Kennedy, Linda Gray, Peter Ellington, Philip Anglim, Sue Ellen Ewing

Aiding the enemy

Ellington, the adopted McKay. When Carter wasn’t siring nutjobs like Tommy, he was putting them on his payroll. First there was snarlin’ Fred Hughes, Carter’s right-hand man during the range war, whose solution to every problem was to shoot a Ewing. Miss Ellie once referred to Hughes as Carter’s “pet dog,” which tells you everything you need to know about what a jerk he was. Then there was Peter Ellington (Philip Anglim), McKay’s sidekick during the “War of the Ewings” reunion movie. Ellington was super enthused about pushing through his boss’s latest deal with the Ewings — to the point of trying to blow up J.R. and taking Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) hostage. Is it me, or was Ellington a little too — what’s the expression I’m looking for here? — into Carter McKay? Did Rose know about this?

Dallas, Fran Kranz, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson, Juan Pablo Di Pace, Nicolas Trevino, TNT

Splitting heirs

Hunter, the mystery McKay. John Ross (Josh Henderson) mentioned playing basketball with “the McKay brothers” during TNT’s first season of “Dallas,” but we didn’t meet one of them until this year, when Hunter showed up and told John Ross how he made a killing by taking his video game company public. Later, we learned Hunter has revenge on his mind and is secretly helping Nicolas and the drug cartel take over Ewing Global. If Hunter is Carter’s grandson, does that make him Tommy’s son? If so, does he hold a grudge against the Ewings because he blames them for his father’s death? Most importantly: Now that Hunter’s here and Tracey’s back, will more McKays show up? No matter how it all turns out, just remember: Whatever trouble the McKays cause next, their arrival in Dallas can be traced back to one person — that awful Jenna Wade. Everything is always her fault, isn’t it?

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

The Dallas Decoder Guide to Household Safety

Bobby Ewing, Christopher Ewing, Dallas, Jesse Metcalfe, Patrick Duffy, TNT, Where There's Smoke

Here they go again

No one should be surprised to see Southfork go up in flames in “Where There’s Smoke,” TNT’s latest “Dallas” episode. The Ewings aren’t exactly the poster family for exercising care and caution around the house, are they? Here’s a look at the everyday, common sense practices they routinely ignore.

B.D. Calhoun, Dallas, Hunter von Leer, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman

Don’t hit the snooze button

Lock your doors. It sounds so simple, and yet the Ewings never seem to grasp the importance of this one. When B.D. Calhoun (Hunter von Leer) tried to kill J.R., did he swarm Southfork with his band of gun-toting mercenaries-for-hire? Nope. Calhoun simply walked into the house in the middle of the night, climbed the stairs, slipped into J.R.’s room and left a ticking time bomb on the nightstand. Several years later, when Vicente Cano decided to hold the Ewings hostage in their living room, he too waltzed in through the front door. Sheesh! Look, Southfork doesn’t have that many entrances. Is it that hard to remember to lock them?

Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman

Looks right at home

Avoid fires. We can all agree open flames inside a home are almost never a good idea, right? So could someone please explain why J.R. (Larry Hagman) had all those candles burning at Southfork on the night Ray showed up to confront him over Mickey Trotter’s accident? I mean, it’s not like J.R. was trying to set a romantic mood for Sue Ellen, who was passed out drunk upstairs. Anyhow, J.R. and Ray got into a huge fistfight, the candles went crashing to the floor and before you knew it, the house was ablaze. Everyone escaped unharmed, although poor John Ross was so traumatized, he emerged from the tragedy looking like a different kid.

Alexis Smith, Dallas, Jessica Montfort, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman

Nuts for breakfast

Know your houseguests. Is there a polite way to ask potential guests if they have a history of mental health issues? If so, please pass this tip along to the Ewings, who are constantly offering room and board to people who belong in an insane asylum, not the spare bedroom at Southfork. Over the years, the Ewings’ overnight guests have included Jessica Montfort (Alexis Smith), who ended up kidnapping Miss Ellie and stuffing her in the trunk of her car; sex-crazed drug dealer Tommy McKay, who practically tried to rape April Stevens in John Ross’s bed; and that dreadful Cousin Jamie, who wasn’t crazy but drove everyone else bonkers.

Dallas, Donna Culver Krebbs, Ray Krebbs, Steve Kanaly, Susan Howard

Oh, Donna

Don’t provoke the animals. Oh, look. Here’s dear, pregnant Pam, who gets in accidents the way other people catch colds. Pam can’t find her husband Bobby, so she’s decided to ride her horse out to the barn to look for him. Pam, given your condition, are you sure that’s a good idea? Oops, too late: Pam fell off the horse. Oh, no. What’s happening now? Is our buddy Ray (Steve Kanaly) trying to introduce his pregnant wife Donna (Susan Howard) to one of the Southfork bulls? Ray, given your wife’s condition, are you sure that’s a good idea? Oops, too late: The bull got spooked and tried to charge Donna, who’s been knocked out cold. Sigh.

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Patrick Duffy, Ray Krebbs, Steve Kanaly


Be a good neighbor. When you have a dispute with a neighbor, do you try to resolve it by talking things out? If so, you’re nothing like the Ewings, whose preferred approach to conflict resolution is to start blowing stuff up. Just ask Carter McKay. After he bought the ranch next to Southfork and got into a spat with the Ewings over water rights, they responded by stuffing McKay’s dam full of dynamite and blasting it to smithereens. This led to a war between the McKays and the Ewings — no, seriously, both families hired their own armies — which is surely a violation of the Braddock homeowners’ association bylaws.

Charlene Tilton, Dallas, Linda Gray, Lucy Ewing, Ray Krebbs, Sue Ellen Ewing, Steve Kanaly

Not now, Lucy

Beware of heights. Elevated spaces can be dangerous. We all know this, right? So why can’t the Ewings and their friends steer clear of them? Klutzy Pam fell from the hayloft — and suffered a miscarriage, no less. Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) and Clayton each tumbled down the stairs — although not at the same time, thank goodness. And when a couple of renegade oil barons began chasing secretary Julie Grey, she went to the roof of her building because … well, why not? Then there’s poor Kristin, who figured the Southfork balcony was the perfect place to try to blackmail the man she once pumped full of lead. We all know how well that turned out.

Christopher Ewing, Dallas, Joshua Harris

Killer fashions

Protect the kids. Do you see the tragedy that’s about to unfold in this picture? I’m not referring to the fact that little Christopher (Joshua Harris) is pulling Bobby’s gun out of the bedroom closet so he can play with it. Ewings love guns; that’s just a fact of life and nothing will ever change it. No, I’m talking about that L.A. Gear shoebox. Does this mean Pam wore L.A. Gears, the gaudiest sneakers known to man? You don’t suppose they were neon pink high-tops, do you? Look, I don’t care if it was the ’80s; how could Pam subject her family to those ugly shoes? For goodness sake, Pam, think of the children!

Bobby Ewing, Cliff Barnes, Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Ken Kercheval, Larry Hagman, Patrick Duffy

Way to make a splash

Don’t go near the water. You know what swimming pools are for? Swimming. They’re not the place to settle scores with Cliff Barnes (Ken Kercheval) and they’re not the place to work out Ewing Oil business disputes. Of course, just try telling this to the Ewings, who are constantly shoving their enemies — and each other — into the Southfork pool. Everyone gets dunked — fully clothed and against their will — at one point or another. Or at least that’s what used to happen on “Dallas.” This might be the one area of household safety where the Ewings have learned their lesson, which is kind of a shame. I mean, where’s the fun in that?

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Patrick Duffy

What have they done now?

Get some insurance. Maybe the reason the Ewings aren’t more careful around the house is because they’ve got the best insurance policy ever: Bobby (Patrick Duffy). No matter what mishaps befall these people, they know good ol’ Bob will save the day. Southfork catches fire? Bobby will come along in the nick of time to make sure everyone gets out alive. Range war with McKay? Bobby will go Chuck Norris on his ass and single-handedly disarm his militia. That termite Cliff starts a pool fight? Well, Bobby won’t break up the scuffle, but he’ll make damn sure Barnes gets the beating he deserves. Bobby, this is why we love you. Never leave us, OK?

What have the Ewings taught you about household safety? Share your comments below and read more “Dallas Decoder Guides.”

The Dallas Decoder Guide to Summer Entertaining

Dallas, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman

Boys of summer

Planning a party this summer? If you want to host an affair your guests will never forget, follow these tips from the Ewings of “Dallas.”

Who’s he to disagree?

Who’s he to disagree?

Grill, baby, grill. Backyard bashes are all about firing up the grill, but you know what else is fun? “Grilling” your guests. No one knew this better than cousin Jamie Ewing (Jenilee Harrison), who decided the 1986 Southfork barbecue was the ideal setting to quiz her husband Cliff (Ken Kercheval) about his scheme to snag her shares of Ewing Oil. “You know, Cliff Barnes, you are the sorriest excuse for a man that I have ever met!” Jamie exclaimed. J.R. (Larry Hagman), watching from the crowd, piped up: “Well, I’ll second that!” Of course, whatever you do, never allow your guests to grill you. When J.R. began selling cut-rate gasoline in 1982, Cliff, Jordan Lee and the other members of the cartel got together and stormed the Ewing barbecue to find out how long J.R. planned to undercut them. You knew things were getting ugly when Miss Ellie had to intercede and order the mob to “go home. Go home, all of you!” Poor Mama. I bet no one had a chance to sample her chili before the party broke up.

Dallas, Fern Fitzgerald, Jenilee Harrison, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Marilee Stone

Slap shot

Don’t forget the fireworks. Are you planning your party on a budget? Instead of spending a fortune to hire a band or a DJ, be like the Ewings and entertain everyone by picking a fight with one of your guests. At the 1979 Ewing Rodeo, J.R. slapped his lawyer/protégé Alan Beam after J.R.’s sister-in-law/secretary/mistress Kristin claimed Alan insulted her. “I don’t know how you treat your women up north, but down here we respect them!” J.R. fumed. (Disclosure: J.R. and Alan’s fight was staged.) Later, at the 1984 Ewing Barbecue, Jamie spotted hot-to-trot Marilee Stone (Fern Fitzgerald) pawing J.R. near the Southfork swimming pool. Jamie confronted Marilee and compared her to a whore, which prompted Marilee to call Jamie a “filthy mouth brat” and slap her. Jamie responded by pushing Marilee into the water. J.R. was livid. “You’re not a Ewing, you’re a troublemaker!” he screamed. Oh, J.R.! Doesn’t he know that pushing someone into the pool is the best way for a Ewing to establish his or her bona fides?

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Patrick Duffy

Partied out?

Surprise! Parties are for surprises, but make sure they’re happy ones. This is something Bobby (Patrick Duffy) learned the hard way. At the 1978 Southfork barbecue, he happily announced Pam’s pregnancy, only to watch her suffer a miscarriage later that day. Four years later, the Ewings threw a barbecue to welcome Jock home from South America and to introduce him to his new grandson Christopher, whom Bobby and Pam had adopted during the old man’s absence. Unfortunately, Jock’s helicopter crashed en route to the party. Later, Bobby’s new pal Lisa Alden proved a real killjoy when she showed up with a lawyer at the 1987 barbecue and revealed she was: a) the sister of Christopher’s biological father, Jeff Farraday; and b) suing Bobby for custody of the boy. Bobby’s bad luck continues: The 2012 Southfork barbecue was ruined when his new daughter-in-law “Rebecca” confessed she and her brother Tommy were scamming the Ewings. Geez, no wonder Bobby didn’t host a barbecue this year.

Dallas, Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing

Master of the game

Get your game on. No summertime celebration is complete without games, whether it’s a few rounds of croquet, horseshoes or simply tossing around a Frisbee. You know what else is fun? Playing mind games with your no-good, cheating louse of a spouse. For this lesson, we have Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) to thank. She spent the 1979 Ewing Rodeo flirting with handsome cowboy Dusty Farlow, mostly to get J.R.’s goat. Six years later, when J.R.’s latest mistress Mandy Winger showed up at the Ewing Rodeo, Sue Ellen pulled her aside and urged her to dump J.R., although Mandy wasn’t interested in this advice. (Sue Ellen’s memorable retort: “Isn’t it strange how the mistress always thinks she’s smarter than the wife? If she’s so smart, why is she the mistress?”) Later, when Sue Ellen discovered J.R. was cheating with Kimberly Cryder, she invited her to the 1987 Ewing Barbecue and pretended everything was hunky-dory. J.R. didn’t know what to make of his wife’s odd behavior — which is exactly how Sue Ellen liked it.

Dallas, Dallas: The Early Years, David Grant, Digger Barnes

Digger on the trigger

Remember: Safety first. Are there people in your life who are trying to kill you? If so, you should probably do something about that. Frankly, this is something the Ewings never quite grasped. People were always showing up at their shindigs looking to inflict bodily harm upon them or their guests. It began in 1951, when Digger Barnes (David Grant) turned up at a Southfork barbecue and pulled a gun on Jock. History repeated itself when crazy old coot Dandy Dandridge crashed the 1987 Ewing Barbecue and tried to shoot Cliff. Perhaps the most tragic safety violation occurred when Lucy and Mickey Trotter had a cookout on the Southfork patio while J.R. and a drunken Sue Ellen were fighting in the living room. Sue Ellen grabbed J.R.’s keys and took off in his Mercedes; Lucy ordered Mickey to jump into the car to try to stop her, which he did, only to suffer massive injuries when the vehicle was struck by J.R.’s revenge-seeking enemy Walt Driscoll. On second thought, maybe the real lesson here is this: Never take orders from Lucy Ewing!

Dallas, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson

He started young

Summer is for loving. Parties are good places to make a love connection, which is something the Ewings know all about. Southfork soirees have seen J.R. flirting with country singer Garnet McGee, oil heiress Holly Harwood flirting with Bobby, and Lucy flirting with camp counselor Peter Richards. The barn is an especially popular spot for a romantic rendezvous: Lucy went there with Jimmy Monahan, Pam and Cliff’s cousin, while Sue Ellen went to the barn with both Peter and Dusty (although not at the same time, thank goodness). But you know who macks the most at Ewing parties? Little John Ross. At the 1983 barbecue, he sidled up to Charlie Wade to see if she would come with him to get a hot dog. Four years later, he was still chasing Charlie, this time hoping she’d take a break from the barbecue to go riding with him. Flash forward to 2012, when on-again, off-again lovers John Ross and Elena (Josh Henderson, Jordana Brewster) rekindled their flame at — where else? — a Southfork cookout.

Charlene Tilton, Dallas, Janine Turner, Leigh McCloskey, Lucy Ewing, Mitch Cooper, Susan

Heel, honey

Dress to impress. Every host wants to make a good impression on his or her guests, so when choosing an outfit for your party, be sure to pick the most impractical clothing you can get your hands on. If you’re a Ewing man, this usually means wearing cowboy boots, dark denim jeans, a vest (preferably heavy leather) and a light colored, long-sleeved western shirt that will show off every ounce of perspiration your body produces under the blazing Texas sun. (Rose-colored sunglasses are also a must, but only if you’re J.R.) Ewing women prefer knee-high boots, long dresses and tight, upswept hairdos that won’t move an inch, no matter how hard the mighty Texas wind blows. (Also: When it comes to turquoise jewelry, there’s no such thing as too much.) Of course, if you’re a Ewing woman and you’re hosting a pool party, you’re allowed to wear a bathing suit — and the more revealing the better. Just make sure you pair your teeny bikini with the highest heels you can find. Ewing women never go to the pool without their heels. Never.

Dallas, Fern Fitzgerald, Marilee Stone

Stone cold

Stay cool! With all this fightin’, feudin’ and flirtin’, your guests are bound to work up a sweat. So if you have a pool, by all means open that sucker and let everyone in. It really is the best way to help your guests cool off. Just ask Marilee.

What have the Ewings taught you about summertime entertaining? Share your comments below and read more “Dallas Decoder Guides.”

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.”

The Dallas Decoder Guide to Gary Ewing

Black sheep

Black sheep

Gary Ewing (Ted Shackelford) returns to Southfork in “The Furious and the Fast,” tonight’s episode of TNT’s “Dallas.” Gary appeared occasionally on the original “Dallas” and was a main character on its “Knots Landing” spinoff, but how much do you remember about him? Here’s a refresher.

Mama’s boy

Mama’s boy

Mom liked Gary best. Jock and Miss Ellie had three sons: J.R., Gary and Bobby. Gary was Mama’s favorite and Bobby was Daddy’s, which explains why J.R. turned out the way he did – but that’s a story for another day. Gary never got along with his macho father and older brother and left Southfork, which upset his parents royally. I always thought Jock and Ellie should have looked on the bright side: Gary is the only one of their adult children who moved out of the house. You can’t say the same thing for those freeloaders J.R. and Bobby.

Scene from a marriage

Scene from a marriage

Valene: Gary’s true love. Young Gary fell for teenage waitress Valene Clements (Joan Van Ark). They got married and had baby Lucy – not in that order – and lived at Southfork, where J.R. tormented Gary until he ran away. Val tried to escape with Lucy, but J.R. sent some “old boys” to retrieve the child and bring her back to Southfork, where Jock and Ellie raised her. Eventually, Gary and Val reunited and moved to Knots Landing, where they spent 14 seasons dealing with affairs, divorces and television’s nosiest neighbors.

Blues brothers

Blues brothers

Bobby: Gary’s best bro. Aside from Mama, Bobby (Patrick Duffy) is the only Ewing who seemed to understand Gary. This makes sense; the brothers have a lot in common. Both are moralistic, both love Southfork and both look great in swim trunks. Bobby has been known to give Gary a verbal kick in the rear when he needs it, but when Bobby “died,” Gary went to pieces. Thank goodness that was just a bad dream! Wait, Gary does know Pam woke up, right? If not, he’s in for a hell of a surprise when he arrives at Southfork tonight.

Brotherly hate

Brotherly hate

J.R.: Worst. Brother. Ever. J.R. (Larry Hagman) meddled in Gary’s life and tried to sleep with his second wife Abby, but his worst attacks were verbal. Over the years, J.R. called Gary a “wimp,” a “no-account,” a “loser” and “Daddy’s big mistake.” (Whoops, that last one was J.R.’s term for Ray.) If Gary was such a screw-up, why did J.R. feel so threatened by him? He explained it this way: “That man is full of anger and frustration. Maybe even hatred, I don’t know. If he ever channeled all that energy, well, it could make my life miserable.” Now you know.

Takes one to know one

Takes one to know one

Gary and Sue Ellen: Not each other’s biggest fans. Gary and Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) didn’t interact much, but when they did, it tended not to go well. Before Sue Ellen admitted she had a drinking problem, Gary tried to talk to her about his own struggles with booze. The conversation ended with Sue Ellen exclaiming, “Stop preaching at me! I am not an alcoholic!” Later, when Kristin Shepard visited Knots Landing, Gary told Val how much Kristin reminded him of her big sister Sue Ellen. He didn’t mean it as a compliment.

Daddy’s girl

Daddy’s girl

All his children. In addition to rivaling J.R. and Bobby in the number of beautiful women he attracted, Gary has more children than either brother. Gary and Val are parents to Lucy (Charlene Tilton), as well as twins Betsy and Bobby, who was named in honor of his “dead” uncle. When Gary believed Val was dead, he took up with Kate Whittaker, who later gave birth to his daughter Molly. However, Kate ended up raising Molly with Brian Cunningham, Gary’s stepson during his marriage to Abby. See? Gary really is all Ewing!



All his faces. Gary has been played by more actors than almost any other Ewing. David Ackroyd created the role in 1978 during the original “Dallas’s” second season, Joel Allen played him as a child in “Dallas: The Early Years” and Andrew Fielder played him as a young man in a “Knots Landing” flashback. Of course, there’s only one real Gary: the great Shackelford, who joins Hagman, Duffy and Tilton as the only actors who’ve portrayed their characters on “Knots Landing” and both versions of “Dallas.” He’ll be joined soon by Van Ark. Welcome to the club!

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

The Dallas Decoder Guide to Surviving a Hostage Crisis

Blame Game, Dallas, Drew Ramos, Kuno Becker, TNT

Drew to the rescue

In “Blame Game,” TNT’s latest “Dallas” episode, Vicente Cano ambushes Southfork and holds the Ewings captive. Dumb move, Vicente. These people are experts at surviving hostage crises, as they demonstrated time and again on the original “Dallas” and its “Knots Landing” spinoff. Let them show you how.

Charlene Tilton, Cooper Huckabee, Dallas, Lucy Ewing, Payton Allen

Light her fire

Beware of cute boys with shaggy hair. The best way to survive hostage crises is to avoid them altogether – a lesson Lucy (Charlene Tilton) learned the hard way. When Payton Allen (Cooper Huckabee) showed up at Southfork one windy afternoon, she flirted with him shamelessly – until he took her whole family hostage. Eight episodes later, when Lucy saw Willie Gust at a roadside diner, she gave him a coquettish glance. His response: taking her hostage as he traversed Texas in his far-out custom van, waging a one-man crime spree.

Brian Dennehy, Dallas, Greg Evigan, Luther Frick, Willie Gust

Bear and B.J.

Don’t get star-struck. Once you find yourself in a hostage situation, you may notice that at least one of your captors looks familiar. In the Ewings’ cases, Willie (Greg Evigan) bore a striking resemblance to that one guy who used to ride around in a semi-truck with a monkey (or that one guy who raised a daughter with Paul Reiser), while Luther Frick (Brian Dennehy), Payton’s partner in crime, looked an awful lot like that one guy who’s been in everything. Don’t let this cause you to lower your defenses. Remember: These are bad men!

Dallas, Ginger Ward, Joan Van Ark, Karen Fairgate, Kim Lankford, Knots Landing, Michele Lee, Valene Ewing

Please, Karen. Not again.

Stay calm. Don’t let this picture mislead you. When Val (Joan Van Ark) threw a baby shower for her Seaview Circle neighbor Ginger (Kim Lankford) and armed robbers burst in and took everyone hostage, the ladies remained admirably restrained. The only reason they look panicked here is because Karen (Michele Lee) was threatening to recite her famous “Pollyanna speech” for the umpteenth time. Kidding! We love you, Karen. And you’re right: Nice should be the norm. If only the hostage-takers of the world felt that way!

Dallas, Linda Gray, Peter Ellington, Philip Anglim, Sue Ellen Ewing

Hurt her and you’ll answer to us

Keep your priorities straight. J.R. was hashing out a big oil deal with Bobby, Ray and Carter McKay when he discovered McKay’s nutty protégé Peter Ellington (Philip Anglim) was holding Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) at gunpoint in the next room. So what did J.R. do? He finished negotiating his deal of course! Once that was settled, J.R. let everyone know what was happening on the other side of the door so they could rescue Sue Ellen. Hey, don’t look so surprised. These are Ewings we’re talking about. Oil comes first. Always.

Abby Ewing, Dallas, Donna Mills, Knots Landing

Hi, bob

Always look your best. When villainous Mark St. Clair took Gary’s second wife Abby (Donna Mills) hostage in the back of a limousine during the final moments of “Knots Landing’s” 1983-84 season, her flaxen hair fell onto her shoulders. The following fall’s season premiere picked up moments later, yet Abby was now sporting a chic bob. How? Why? It was never explained. Perhaps she gave herself a trim to ensure she’d be camera-ready in case the press showed up to cover her eventual rescue. Now that’s thinking like a Ewing.

Abby Cunningham, Dallas, Donna Mills, Knots Landing

She never liked Val’s curtains anyway

Give Abby the weapon. Speaking of Abby: If you’re able to wrest control of your captor’s weapon and she happens to be nearby, by all means toss the instrument to her. She’ll know what to do with it. During Val’s baby-shower-from-hell, Abby used a fire extinguisher to blow away one of the bad guys (literally!). Later, during her own hostage crisis, Abby managed to grab St. Clair’s gun and turn it on him. In that instance, her rescuer Greg Sumner insisted she give him the gun. Just like him to waltz in and take over a show, isn’t it?

Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman

What’s the big deal?

Master the art of the fake-out. When J.R. (Larry Hagman) went to an abandoned theme park to negotiate the kidnapped John Ross’s release, the boy’s captor, B.D. Calhoun, thought J.R. was alone. Wrong! Bobby and Ray secretly tagged along and helped J.R. stage a daring rescue of his son. Years earlier, J.R. and Ray pulled a similar stunt when they helped Cliff negotiate Bobby’s release from a trio of dim-witted kidnappers. In that instance, Cliff was almost killed, which seemed to upset a lot of people. J.R. never understood why.

Charlene Tilton, Dallas, Lucy Ewing

Command performance

When all else fails, sing! If your captors are anything like the bad guys the Ewings encounter, chances are they’re going to want you to sing. Don’t ask why; apparently this is something hostage-takers do. You could be like Sue Ellen, who sobbed her way through Barbra Streisand’s “People” for Frick and Allen, or you could play it like Lucy, who was forced to enter a talent competition by Willie and absolutely killed it with her rendition of “Silver Threads and Golden Needles.” It was a great performance, but we wonder: Why didn’t Lucy sing “Rescue Me” instead?

What have the Ewings taught you about surviving a hostage crisis? Share your comments below and read more “Dallas Decoder Guides.”

The Dallas Decoder Guide to Texas Justice

Rogue’s gallery

Gang’s all here

The Ewings go to court in “Trial and Error,” TNT’s latest “Dallas” episode, and if past is prologue, the experience will be as enlightening as it is entertaining. Here’s what we learned about the Texas legal system from watching the original “Dallas.”

Rush to judgment

Rush to judgment

Justice is swift. (Except when it isn’t.) When someone in the Ewing camp is accused of a crime, the wheels of justice either spin super fast – or grind to a halt. Jock (Jim Davis) was charged with killing Hutch McKinney and indicted a week later, and then his trial lasted all of one day. But when Bobby’s girlfriend Jenna Wade went on trial for murdering Naldo Marchetta, the case dragged on for 11 episodes – almost a third of that season!

Snide and prejudice

Snide and prejudice

What conflict of interest? When Jock’s case went to trial, the assistant prosecutor was – drumroll, please – Cliff Barnes (Ken Kercheval). Did it matter that Cliff’s father was once Jock’s business partner? Or that Cliff’s sister was married to Jock’s son? Of course not! Look, if Senator Bobby Ewing could preside over a legislative inquiry into J.R.’s shady dealings, surely Cliff could prosecute Jock without prejudice. Right?

Cliff jumping

Cliff jumping

What courtroom etiquette? You know how Christopher has a penchant for courtroom outbursts on TNT’s “Dallas”? Uncle Cliff had the same habit on the old show. Remember when he interrupted a Ewing Oil ownership hearing by loudly telling opponent Jack Ewing, “This is all a setup by J.R. Ewing! You are here to cheat me!” The judge vowed to eject Cliff, but of course he didn’t. Do TV judges ever follow through on that threat?

Greasing the wheels

Chamber of commerce

Judges are for bribing. J.R. (Larry Hagman) never met a judge he didn’t try to influence. When Cliff tried to weasel his way into Ewing Oil, J.R. gave Judge Loeb (Jerry Hardin) some valuable stock tips in exchange for an injunction stalling Cliff’s case. Of course, these things sometimes backfired. When J.R. tried to pressure Jenna’s judge, the judge jacked up her bail to $2 million. Silly jurist. That’s what the Ewings call “pocket change.”

Mr. Cool

Mr. Cool

Scotty Demarest: Texas’s Matlock. Whenever the Ewings landed in hot legal water, they summoned Scotty (Stephen Elliott), an ultra-cool legal eagle whose disarming drawl added a few extra syllables to every word. Scotty’s best stunt: putting accused shooter Jenna on the witness stand and asking her to activate the gun’s “sy-luntz-uh.” She couldn’t, giving “Dallas” its own if-it-doesn’t-fit-you-must-acquit moment.

Spectacles of justice

Spectacles of justice

Harv Smithfield was cool too. Who didn’t love Harv (George O. Petrie), the Ewings’ loyal consigliere? He wasn’t quite as flamboyant as Scotty, but he had a flair for legal theatrics nonetheless. I mean, is it me or did Harv only trot out his lawyerly pince-nez spectacles when he was in court? The other remarkable thing about Harv: He was highly ethical. So how’d he manage to stay on the Ewing payroll for so long?

He must object

He must object

Don’t forget about Cole Young! Cole (Walter Brooke) helped acquit Cliff of Julie Grey’s murder through sheer incredulity. During J.R.’s three-minute testimony against Cliff, Cole objected five times. Cole was especially outraged when he thought the prosecutor was being mean to Pam on the witness stand. As Cole put it: “I protest that, not only as an officer of this court but as a citizen of the great state of Texas!” You tell ’em, Cole!

He’ll smell ya later

He’ll smell ya later

Trials are for stargazing. In addition to Brooke, who famously gave Dustin Hoffman career advice in “The Graduate” (“plastics!”), “Dallas” also gave us stars-in-the-making, including Steven Williams (the boss on “21 Jump Street”) as the bailiff during Ray’s trial for Mickey Trotter’s death and James Avery (Will Smith’s Uncle Phil on “The Fresh Prince Bel-Air”) as the judge in one of little Christopher’s many custody hearings.

Got a stack of those?

Might want a stack of those, just in case

Testify! The amazing thing about the Ewings: They often told the truth in court. For example, Bobby allowed the sordid story of Christopher’s paternity to come out during his final custody fight for the boy. J.R. even delivered potentially damaging testimony against his daddy at Jock’s trial, although he declined to drag Sue Ellen’s name through the mud at their first divorce hearing. Who says miracles don’t happen in “Dallas”?

What have the Ewings taught you about the justice system? Share your comments below and read more “Dallas Decoder Guides.”

The Dallas Decoder Guide to Barnes/Ewing Romances



John Ross and Pamela (Josh Henderson, Julie Gonzalo) are steaming up the screen on TNT’s “Dallas” this season. Everyone knows this isn’t the first time a Barnes and a Ewing have got involved with each other. But did you realize it’s also not the second, third or even fourth time it’s happened? Here’s a look at other Barnes/Ewing romances.





The Barnes: Pam (Victoria Principal), a scrappy working-class gal

The Ewing: Bobby (Patrick Duffy), playboy scion of a mega-rich oil-and-cattle clan

Met cute? Of course. When Pam was a child, her Aunt Maggie brought her to the Ewing barbecue, where pig-tailed Pam flirted with little Bobby (“Dallas: The Early Years”). When Pam and Bobby grew up, they had a whirlwind romance before their spur-of-the-moment wedding in New Orleans.

Their obstacles: How much time you got? Bobby and Pam dealt with career struggles, a kidnapping, old flames, a tabloid scandal, a messy adoption, a forged “Dear John” letter, a divorce, a remarriage, a 31-hour dream and a horrifying car crash. Of course, the biggest obstacle of all was J.R., who made breaking up the couple his life’s work.

Happily ever after? You do watch this show, right?





The Barnes: Cliff (Kercheval), an ambitious politician eager expose J.R.’s corruption

The Ewing: Sue Ellen (Linda Gray), J.R.’s neglected wife

Met cute? Sorta. Cliff and Sue Ellen were introduced by his friend Buzz Connors, who also happened to be the lawyer she hired to help her adopt a black market baby. (Don’t ask). Upon meeting Cliff, Sue Ellen told him, “You’re much more attractive than your reputation.” His response: “You’re far too pretty to be a Ewing.”

Their obstacles: Sue Ellen and Cliff became lovers, and she was ready to leave J.R. to be with him. But when Cliff realized their affair could ruin his political career, he dumped her.

Happily ever after? Nope. After Sue Ellen divorced J.R., she had another fling with Cliff, but the second go-round turned out no better than the first.





The Barnes: Digger (Keenan Wynn), washed-up wildcatter

The Ewing: Ellie (Barbara Bel Geddes), the beloved Ewing matriarch

Met cute? Perhaps. We never saw Digger and Ellie meet, but their backstory is the stuff of legend. Digger’s daddy worked for Ellie’s father, who owned the Southfork ranch. Digger and Ellie grew up on the ranch as sweethearts – until dashing Jock arrived and swept her off her feet.

Their obstacles: Bobby and Pam’s marriage brought Digger and Ellie back into each other’s lives. While Ellie was recovering from breast cancer, she drifted apart from Jock and sought comfort from Digger, who still carried a torch for her. Digger offered to whisk Ellie away, but she turned him down when she realized she still loved Jock.

Happily ever after? Hardly. Not long after Ellie and Jock reconciled, Digger drank himself to death.





The Barnes: Cliff, revenge-obsessed-politician-turned-revenge-obsessed-oil-executive

The Ewing: Jamie (Jenilee Harrison), a long-lost Ewing cousin

Met cute? Not really. Cliff stalked Jamie on the sidewalk, which is how he seemed to meet a lot of women.

Their obstacles: After Jamie turned up at Southfork and claimed she was owed a piece of Ewing Oil, cunning Cliff pretended to fall in love with her so he could get his hands on her share of the company. Cliff and Jamie had a quickie wedding, only to lose their court battle against the Ewings a few episodes later.

Happily ever after? Kind of, for Cliff at least. When Cliff cheated on Jamie, she left him and was killed in a rock climbing accident. Through a complicated turn of events, this meant he somehow ended up inheriting a piece of Ewing Oil anyway.


Jimmy who?!

Jimmy who?!


The Barnes: Jimmy Monahan (James Canning, then Philip Levien), Cliff and Pam’s cousin; technically not a Barnes, but darn close

The Ewing: Lucy (Charlene Tilton), Jock and Ellie’s spunky granddaughter

Met cute? Yes. Pam wanted to fix up Jimmy with Lucy, but she knew her rebellious niece would never go for it. Instead, savvy Pam suggested Jimmy attend the Ewing Barbecue and act like he wasn’t interested in Lucy. It worked like a charm.

Their obstacles: Uncle Digger. Just when it looked like Jimmy was about to get lucky with Lucy in the hayloft, Digger got drunk – which meant Jimmy had to drive him home.

Happily ever after? Only as friends. After the barbecue, Jimmy helped Lucy sneak around so she could see her estranged mama Valene. He was never heard from again.

What are your favorite Barnes/Ewing romances? Share your comments below and read more “Dallas Decoder Guides.”

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.”