#DallasChat Daily: What Were ‘Dallas’s’ Best/Worst Recasts?

Barbara Bel Geddes, Claude Earl Jones, Clifton James, Colleen Camp, Dallas, Dan Ammerman, David Ackroyd, David Wayne, Digger Barnes, Donna Reed, Dr. David Gordon, Dr. Harlan Danvers, Duke Carlisle, Gary Ewing, James Canning, Jenna Wade, John Zaremba, Josef Rainer, Keenan Wynn, Kristin Shepard, Margaret Michaels, Mary Crosby, Miss Ellie Ewing, Morgan Fairchild, Pam Ewing, Philip Levien, Priscilla Beaulieu Presley, Sam Anderson, Ted Shackelford, Victoria Principal

“Dallas” recast several roles over the years. Which ones worked? Which ones failed?

Among the choices: Miss Ellie (played by Barbara Bel Geddes and Donna Reed), Gary (David Ackroyd, Ted Shackelford), Pam (Victoria Principal, Margaret Michaels), Digger (David Wayne, Keenan Wynn) and Kristin (Colleen Camp, Mary Crosby). There were also three Jennas: Morgan Fairchild, Priscilla Beaulieu Presley and Francine Tacker, who isn’t pictured because I couldn’t squeeze her into the collage.

Additional choices: Dr. Harlan Danvers (Dan Ammerman, John Zaremba), Jimmy Monahan (James Canning, Philip Levien) Duke Carlisle (Claude Earl Jones, Clifton James) and Dr. David Gordon, who was played by Josef Rainer on the original show and Sam Anderson on the TNT series.

Your #DallasChat Daily question: What were “Dallas’s” best and worst recasts?

Share your comments below and join other #DallasChat Daily discussions.

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 Art of Dallas: ‘Reunion, Part 2’

J.R. (Larry Hagman) pressures Gary (David Ackroyd) to learn the family business in this 1978 publicity shot from “Reunion, Part 2,” a second-season “Dallas” episode.

Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 7 – ‘Reunion, Part 2’

Charlene Tilton, Dallas, David Ackroyd, Gary Ewing, Joan Van Ark, Lucy Ewing, Valene Ewing

Enter at your own risk

I’m not a big fan of “Reunion, Part 1,” but I love “Reunion, Part 2.” The writing and acting are beautiful.

In this installment’s most memorable sequence, a drunken Digger barrels onto Southfork in his nephew Jimmy’s beat-up sports car and asks Jock to “pay” him for Pam. The Ewings watch as Jock pulls a wad of cash from his pocket and tosses a $100 bill at the feet of his onetime business partner, who scoops it up and proclaims his daughter “sold.”

The attention shifts to Pam, who is humiliated, but I find myself wondering what Gary makes of this embarrassing scene. To him, Digger must seem like a ghost from the future – a vision of the person he’ll become if he doesn’t get away from the Ewings.

Think about it: Gary is already following in Digger’s footsteps. Like Digger, Gary is an alcoholic. Like Digger, he has failed to live up to Jock’s expectations. And like Digger, he has “lost” a daughter to the Ewings.

I believe Gary leaves Southfork at the end of “Reunion, Part 2” not just because he feels pressured by J.R., but also because he doesn’t want to become as embittered as Digger. He says as much when he bids farewell to Valene and tells her, “I’m alright. It took me a long time to realize that. I just don’t belong with them – and there’s nothing wrong with that.”

David Ackroyd is really good in this scene, but Joan Van Ark is magnificent. When Val tells Gary she’s never loved another man like she loved him, you feel her pain.

I also love Van Ark’s performance in the next sequence, when the actress spins on a dime and channels Val’s tears into anger at J.R., who’s been watching her from Southfork’s front porch.

“So what’s my future?” she asks him.

“None around here,” J.R. responds.

“Any choices?”

“Well, $5,000 and an escort out of the state?”

“Any others?”

“An escort out of the state.”

Dialogue this sharp – and acting this good – make me wish scriptwriter David Jacobs and Van Ark had spent more time at Southfork before heading west to “Knots Landing” during “Dallas’s” third season.

The farewell scene is also elevated by Robert Jessup’s cinematography, which makes Southfork’s blue skies and gold-green pastures look stunning. Jessup’s work here reminds us of one of “Dallas’s” great dichotomies: No matter how ugly the characters on this show behave, the scenery around them is always gorgeous.

Grade: A


Dallas, David Ackroyd, Gary Ewing, Joan Van Ark, Valene Ewing

Goodbye, for now


Season 2, Episode 2

Airdate: September 30, 1978

Audience: 9.5 million homes, ranking 59th in the weekly ratings

Writer: David Jacobs

Director: Irving J. Moore

Synopsis: Pam is humiliated when her father, Digger Barnes, asks Jock to “pay” him for her. J.R. gives Gary a Ewing Oil subsidiary to run, but when Gary feels pressured, he leaves Southfork without saying goodbye. Val also departs, and J.R. lies and tells the family she asked him for money to leave.

Cast: David Ackroyd (Gary Ewing), Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Sarah Cunningham (Maggie Monahan), Jim Davis (Jock Ewing), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing), Joan Van Ark (Valene Ewing), David Wayne (Digger Barnes)

“Reunion, Part 2” is available on DVD and at Amazon.com and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.