In Memoriam: Our 2016 ‘Dallas’ Tributes

Barry Jenner, Dallas, George Kennedy, Jim Gough, Maj Hagman

Dallas Decoder remembers the “Dallas” actors, crew members and other contributors who died in 2016. Click on each person’s name to learn more about his or her career at


Anthony Addabbo, Dallas, Jeff Peters

Anthony Addabbo

Anthony Addabbo

Died October 18 (age 56)

In the 14th-season episode “Smooth Operator,” Addabbo played John, a Hollywood wannabe who pitched Bobby on a TV series that sounded suspiciously like “Twin Peaks.” Eight episodes later, in the series finale “Conundrum,” Addabbo appeared as Sue Ellen’s slimy Hollywood agent, Jeff Peters.


Dallas, Janine, Patricia Barry

Patricia Barry

Patricia Barry

Died October 11 (age 93)

Barry made guest appearances on many episodic series from the 1950s through the early 2000s. In the 14th-season “Dallas” episode “Lock, Stock and Jock,” she played Janine, a married woman who refused to provide Carter McKay with an alibi after his arrest for Johnny Dancer’s murder.


Dallas, Peter Brown, Tom Flintoff

Peter Brown

Peter Brown

Died March 21 (age 80)

In the fifth-season episode “Denial,” Brown, a veteran of the 1960s western “Laredo,” played Tom Flintoff, the creep who tried to force himself on Sue Ellen shortly after her divorce from J.R. Brown’s nephew, Phillip Brown, played architect Brian Johnston on “Knots Landing.”


Dallas, Dr. McWright, Paul Comi,

Paul Comi

Paul Comi

Died August 26 (age 84)

Comi played Dr. McWright, the pediatrician who examined baby Christopher in “Waterloo at Southfork.” Comi logged many other TV guest shots during his 50-year career, including three episodes of “Knots Landing” and a memorable turn in the “Star Trek” classic “Balance of Terror.”


Dallas, Lydia, Ronnie Claire Edwards

Ronnie Claire Edwards

Ronnie Claire Edwards

Died June 14 (age 83)

Edwards, who is best known for her role as Corabeth on “The Waltons,” appeared in the eighth-season “Dallas” episode “Barbecue Five” as Lydia, the tarot card reader that Pam consults during her search for Mark. Edwards also did guest spots on “Falcon Crest” and “Dynasty,” among many other shows.


Knots Landing, Zsa Zsa Gabor

Zsa Zsa Gabor

Zsa Zsa Gabor

Died December 18 (age 99)

Gabor played herself in “Svengali,” a 1982 “Knots Landing” episode in which Valene appears on Mike Douglas’s TV talk show to promote “Capricorn Crude,” her fictionalized book about the Ewings. In real life, Gabor and Larry Hagman once appeared together on a 1979 episode of “The Mike Douglas Show.”


Congressman Oates, Dallas, Jim Gough

Jim Gough

Jim Gough

Died June 7 (age 85)

Gough appeared on “Dallas” as Senator Lee in “Barbecue” (Season 1), Congressman Oates in “Runaway” (Season 2) and the rodeo announcer in “Close Encounters” (Season 9). His other notable credits include a role in the film “JFK” and a guest spot on the Leonard Katzman-produced “Walker Texas Ranger.”


Dallas, Rick F. Gunter

Rick F. Gunter

Rick F. Gunter

Died August 31 (age 65)

Gunter served as “Dallas’s” cinematographer during most of the original show’s final three seasons. He later served as director of photography for several other series, including “Beverly Hills 90210,” “Charmed” and “The Wizards of Waverly Place,” for which he received an Emmy nomination in 2011.


Dallas, Maj Hagman

Maj Hagman

Maj Hagman

Died May 31 (age 88)

Hagman was married to Larry Hagman from 1954 until his death in 2012. Their daughter Kristina appeared in several episodes on the original “Dallas” and this year wrote a book, “The Eternal Party,” about her family, including her mother’s talent as a fashion designer, hostess extraordinaire and devoted spouse.


Dallas, John Hostetter, Paul Derber

John Hostetter

John Hostetter

Died September 2 (age 69)

Hostetter appeared in the 11th-season episode “Lovers and Other Liars” as Paul Derber, a poker buddy of Nicholas Pearce. He also did two guest spots as police offers on “Knots Landing,” was a semi-regular on “Murphy Brown” and voiced Bazooka on the 1980s “G.I. Joe” animated series.


Barry Jenner, Dallas, Dr. Jerry Kenderson

Barry Jenner

Barry Jenner

Died August 9 (age 75)

From 1984 through 1986, Jenner appeared on “Dallas” as Dr. Jerry Kenderson, Mark Graison’s physician and a Sue Ellen’s suitor. He also appeared in four “Knots Landing” entries as Jeff Cunningham, Abby’s ex-husband, and he was a semi-regular on “Family Matters” and “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” among many other roles.


Carter McKay, Dallas, George Kennedy

George Kennedy

George Kennedy

Died February 28 (age 91)

Kennedy, who won a best supporting actor Oscar for his role in 1967’s “Cool Hand Luke,” played villainous oil baron and Southfork neighbor Carter McKay during “Dallas’s” 12th, 13th and 14th seasons and two reunion movies, “J.R. Returns” and “War of the Ewings.” Dallas Decoder published a tribute to him in March.


Archie Lang, Dallas

Archie Lang

Archie Lang

Died February 17 (age 95)

Lang played a banking associate of Franklin Horner in the fifth-season episode “The Big Shut Down,” then returned for a five-episode stint in the 13th season as Senator Lee, a member of the panel that investigated the Ewing Oil tanker accident. Lang’s other credits include guest spots on “Knots Landing” and “The Waltons.”


Dallas, Leslie H. Hartinson

Leslie H. Martinson

Leslie H. Martinson

Died September 3 (age 101)

Martinson directed four episodes during “Dallas’s” early years: the classic “Julie’s Return” and the campier “Call Girl,” “The Heiress” and “Power Play.” He also helmed episodes of many other series, including “Maverick,” “Batman,” “The Brady Bunch,” “Eight is Enough,” “Wonder Woman” and “Small Wonder.”


James Sheldon, Knots Landing

James Sheldon

James Sheldon

Died March 12 (age 95)

Sheldon directed two episodes of “Knots Landing,” including the second installment, “Community Spirit,” which featured Larry Hagman. His many other directing credits include “Echoes of Love,” a “Family” episode written by David Jacobs, and episodes of “M*A*S*H” and the Katzman-produced “Petrocelli.”


Agnes, Barbara Tarbuck, Dallas

Barbara Tarbuck

Barbara Tarbuck

Died December 27 (age 74)

Tarbuck played Agnes, Cliff’s secretary at the Office of Land Management, in three episodes during the 1978-79 season. Her many other credits include guest spots on “Knots Landing” and “Dynasty” and recurring roles on “Falcon Crest,” “General Hospital” and “American Horror Story: Asylum.”


What do you remember about these individuals? Share your memories below and read our tributes from 20152014 and 2013.

A Holiday Wish for ‘Dallas’ Fans — and Everyone Else

Dallas, Kristina Hagman, Larry Hagman, LMaj Hagman

Naughty or nice?

What a year this has been, “Dallas” fans.

It feels like we’re all living in the show’s infamous dream season. Not the good part of that year — the first batch of episodes, which featured some of “Dallas’s” best-ever writing and direction and Linda Gray’s stellar performance as a down-in-the-gutter Sue Ellen. No, real life has become the latter half of the “Dallas” dream, when the series zoomed off the rails. The whole world has gone stupid.

That’s why I hope to write more about “Dallas” next year. This show has always been a form of therapy for me, and I need that more than ever these days. I miss critiquing the episodes, interviewing people involved with the series and generally sharing my love for All Things Ewing. I’m not sure when I’ll be able to resume writing regularly again — or what form that writing might take — but it’s time to get back to Southfork. I hope I can make that happen in 2017.

Until then, I want to thank everyone for sticking with me through this year of light posting. I also want to salute all my fellow fans for everything you do to honor “Dallas” on social media and elsewhere. Your dedication to the show amazes and inspires me.

So please enjoy this fun photo I found of Santa Claus casting a suspicious glance at ol’ J.R. (Larry Hagman’s wife Maj, who we sadly died this year, and his daughter Kristina are pictured, too), and please accept my wishes for happy holidays. Here’s hoping the new year will bring less dream-season-like absurdity and much more peace, joy and “Dallas” goodness.

The Dallas Decoder Interview: Kristina Hagman

Dallas, Eternal Party, Kristina Hagman

Kristina Hagman

“The Eternal Party,” a biography of Larry Hagman written by his daughter Kristina Hagman, was published last month. I interviewed her recently about the book and her memories of her famous father.

Let me start by expressing my condolences on the recent death of your mom, Maj Hagman. I enjoyed learning more about her in your book. She was a pretty resourceful woman.

She was a doer. Resilient, handy, innovative. She came up with all sorts of things.

For those who haven’t read “The Eternal Party,” can you talk about why you decided to write it?

I was hoping [the book] would instigate larger communication about my father — that other people would then share their stories, and lo and behold, that is just what’s happening. I’m hearing so much. It’s making the whole picture of my father so much more complete. As I put out my stories, people are coming back to me with their stories, and I’m getting a much more rounded knowledge of who my father was.

What sorts of things are you hearing?

My father used his celebrity to reach out to people, and when people contacted him, he often formed long-term bonds with his fans. He would communicate with people over decades. And then there is a story in the book about a little boy who was missing his dad during the Vietnam War and met Dad, who realized that this little boy needed a male father figure — someone to pay attention to him, to hold his hand. I think that may have been one of the very first times that Dad really understood that there was a healing power to celebrity.

I love that story because I suspect that’s how a lot of us saw your dad — like a father figure who came into our living rooms every week.

Yeah, and that’s how he said it. I was with him — I think I was about 8 at the time — and he took me aside and said, “I am in this boy’s living room once a week, but he can’t see his dad. How would you feel if you couldn’t see your dad?” He made it real for me.

Something I struggled with when I read your book is, I always feel like people of notoriety deserve their privacy too, and yet you reveal some personal information about your dad.

And about myself. I figured if I was going to be forthcoming with him, I was going to put myself out there too.

Kristina Hagman, Larry Hagman

Don’t worry

Did you struggle to decide what to disclose and what not to disclose?

You know, I read your commentary and your concerns that my father had never really talked publicly about his infidelities — that was a struggle for me to decide [to disclose]. But when I looked at telling the story of our family’s life, covering up that lie created such a big hole in the fabric of our reality that I had to not leave it out. It was part of the character of J.R. People who are famous often need a whole lot of love, and people who are famous don’t become famous alone. There’s a lot of people propping them up and helping them and giving them all that energy that they need. And my mom, as much as she wanted to, couldn’t give him everything.

You mention J.R. How much did your dad have in common with him?

Obviously, number one, they’re both Texans. Dad had incredible role models to draw off of, real Texans that were in his life, in his childhood. I think to be that good — because he was really good as J.R. — you have to bring a piece of yourself to it.

Something that struck me is J.R. struggled with his relationship with his father, and in real life, your dad had an interesting relationship with his mom [Broadway star Mary Martin]. Do you think he drew upon that when he was playing J.R.?

Certainly there were similarities in the competition of … wanting to be as good as your parents, or better. J.R. wanted to show the world that, “Yeah, I respect my dad, he was so great, but I’m going to be even better than he is. I’m going to take this to the next level.” And Dad loved and respected and admired his mother, but he was determined to take it to the next level.

The other thing that I find interesting is your dad had this reputation as a very carefree person, but he must have been a really hard worker too.

Oh, he was. Dad was incredibly disciplined. He used to use a reel-to-reel tape recorder to tape all of his lines. It was like a suitcase — that’s how big it was. And he developed a special technique where he would read the entire script — his lines, everybody else’s lines — and he’d go [makes a clicking sound], and then he would leave a blank spot. He would sort of say it in his head, and then he would read the line.


He spent hours and hours, every single day, no matter what state he was in, recording his lines, going over his lines, playing with them. When I was a young actress, he said, “Learn your lines backwards and forward. Laugh it. Sing it. Say that line with marbles in your mouth. Turn it into a joke. Say that line — even if it’s a funny line — as if you were going to kill somebody with those words.” And he would say, “You play with it until it becomes really comfortable and malleable.” He was incredibly disciplined.

Did he rehearse a lot?

All the time. He rehearsed over and over and over.

Did you ever rehearse with him? Did you ever read Sue Ellen or Bobby’s lines for him?

No, no, no. He worked with Linda [Gray] and Patrick [Duffy], right there on the set.

Speaking of the set: You made a few appearances on “Dallas” over the years. What are your memories of being on the show?

Some of Dad’s best memories were working with his mother. He was in “South Pacific” in London with his mom. And he thought it would be fun for us [to work together] — that we would relate to one another more. Even after I pretty much gave up acting, I would still come back to L.A. and do a day or two on the show with him, and so I got more of that intimacy of being his co-worker as well. That was a wonderful way of bonding.

Your final episode was the first segment that Linda Gray directed. Do you remember being directed by her?

Was that the masquerade party?

It was the episode after the masquerade party.

You know, frankly, the reason I’m not an actress is when I was doing that stuff, I was so nervous, I had stage fright. You know how everything goes blank?

Oh, sure.

I don’t remember too much except that Dad was there saying, “Breathe. Relax.” [Laughs]

Is that why you didn’t pursue acting full-time?

I was so terrified. I got a gig doing “Sound of Music.” I played Liesl. My mouth would get so dry that I’d have to put Vaseline on my teeth because when I smiled, my lips would stick to my gums. And at a certain point, after about three years, I realized that I didn’t have to do something that made me terrified.

Kristina Hagman, Larry Hagman

Be happy

Was your dad okay with that?

More than okay. I think that he really wanted me to have a family. He felt that family was the most important thing there is. He really wanted me to be a mom and he didn’t want me to have a career that kept me away from my children. So when I started full-time painting and making art, he really, really encouraged that.

He displayed your art in his homes.

Oh, always. Part of the reason that I became a painter, when I was a very young kid, my parents framed things I made and put them on the wall. I really encourage anybody with a kid who has some interest in making art that … taking the time to put it in a frame and show your friends — you can’t replace that kind of encouragement with any kind of class or grade that a teacher can give.

One of the sweetest pictures in the book is the shot of you and your dad in front of a garage-door mural you painted.

Yeah, I love that picture too.

So I have to ask: Your dad had so many great roles over the years. Did he have a favorite?

J.R., definitely. He loved playing that role and he loved the opportunity to do it for so many years, to hone it. Bar none. I think he also quite liked his role in “Harry and Tonto.” I think that that was possibly his most vulnerable, raw piece of acting that he ever did in his career.

What about you? Do you have a favorite performance?

I think it’s the “Harry and Tonto” one. My dad didn’t cry very often, and he pulled out the stoppers on that one.

So what is it like now, when you see your dad in a movie or a TV show?

Oh, golly, it does make me miss him. There are so many things I love about him. I love his voice. When his voice would be dubbed in other languages, they’d often put a very deep voice, but he had a barrel-like, funny, giggly — for a man, a somewhat high-pitched voice. Perhaps it’s the sound of his voice that gets me more than anything.

What do you see as your dad’s legacy? I feel like he helped invent modern television — we wouldn’t have shows like “The Sopranos” and “Breaking Bad” if there had been no “Dallas.”

Absolutely. I feel like the ensemble work with his other cast members is now something you see in so many shows. He was a great fan of “The Sopranos.” And he was very excited about the direction that television has taken since “Dallas.”

Did he see J.R. Ewing as a precursor to Tony Soprano or Walter White?

Yeah, I think he’d see these young guys and go, “Hmm, probably couldn’t have done it if I hadn’t done it first.”

And he always took credit for the “Friends” actors getting those huge salary increases too.

He really did think that everybody should have his due. If somebody’s going to make money off of his work, he wanted it to be him. [Laughs]

Kristina Hagman, Larry Hagman

Feel good

For an old hippie, he was a pretty shrewd businessman, wasn’t he?

Oh, yeah, he was, and it was a bit of a game for him. That was better than chess, better than poker, for him.

More parallels with J.R.

Probably. Oh, he loved the nuance, how to get the right publicity. He loved how to work with the public. He loved the attention.

Getting back to his legacy: I feel like your dad has never received the recognition that he deserved for “Dallas.” How he never won an Emmy, I’ll never understand.

Here’s an insider story about Dad and the Emmys. Like you said, he made it possible for other actors after him to get good money for their work. Dad had this idea that these awards shows make a lot of money and the actors don’t get paid for it, and he frequently complained about that. And maybe that’s why the Emmys never gave him an award.

Interesting. I wasn’t aware of that.

I think he didn’t attend them often because he said, “I don’t want to attend something and have somebody else make money off of me and my attendance.”

What a shame if that’s the reason he never received the recognition.

Who knows what the reason is? I’m certainly not on the Emmy committee.

The other thing that I really appreciate about your dad is that he had a concern for the planet. He was an environmentalist.

Definitely. And that was a reason to write the book, frankly. I really wanted people to know that J.R. was not just J.R., that Larry Hagman was an environmentalist.

So where, ultimately, do you feel your book fits into your dad’s legacy?

It’s called “The Eternal Party” because Dad wanted every day to be a celebration. Yes, there are difficult parts in my book, but there’s difficult parts in everybody’s lives. To me, the takeaway is: Living a good life is the greatest cure. Enjoying life, celebrating each day, no matter what kind of difficult things happen, that is the thing that I’d like people to walk away with most.

And that’s a great lesson.

Like he said: Don’t worry, be happy, feel good.

Share your comments below and read more Dallas Decoder interviews.

Remembering Larry Hagman, the Life of the ‘Party’

Dallas, Kristina Heidi Hagman, Larry Hagman

Party people

I’ve always believed famous people are as entitled to their privacy as anyone else, which is why I hesitated to read “The Eternal Party,” the new biography of Larry Hagman written by his daughter Kristina. The pre-publication publicity made it clear the book would contain information that Larry might have preferred to keep private, and so after I received my copy, I struggled with what to do with it. Curiosity eventually got the better of me, and ultimately I’m glad it did. “The Eternal Party” challenges some long-held beliefs about its subject, but Kristina mostly paints a sweet, loving portrait of her father. She also sheds light on how he brought J.R. Ewing to life, which is all I really want from a book about Larry Hagman in the first place.

“The Eternal Party” is framed as a mystery — a nod, perhaps, to the “Who Shot J.R.?” phenomenon that marked the zenith of Larry’s fame. The book opens with Kristina recalling her father’s final hours as he lay dying in a Dallas hospital in 2012. In his delirium, the notoriously carefree actor begs for forgiveness, prompting Kristina to spend the rest of the book re-examining Larry’s life. She documents his indulgences with his favorite substances — ground that Larry candidly covered in his own 2001 memoir, “Hello Darlin’” — and also shares private details about her parents’ 58-year marriage. The latter passages left me torn. My sense is that Larry and his wife Maj wouldn’t want some of this material to be public knowledge. On the other hand, as a student of “Dallas” history, it’s interesting to ponder the parallels between the Hagmans’ marriage and J.R. and Sue Ellen’s. How much did Larry draw upon his personal experience when shaping this part of his character?

Other passages in “The Eternal Party” show how the J.R. traits that “Dallas” fans know so well were rooted in mundane aspects of Larry’s domestic life. Remember the menacing glare J.R. would offer his enemies when he was about to destroy them? Kristina recalls her father wearing the same scowl when he was trying to housebreak the family’s German shepherd puppy. In another amusing tidbit, she details the years before Larry’s “Dallas” wealth, when the vagabond Hagmans frequently relied on the kindness of others. This includes future “Dallas” co-star David Wayne, who allowed the family to stay at his home whenever they needed a place to crash. Imagine: Digger Barnes offering shelter to a down-on-his-luck J.R. Ewing. The mind reels.

Kristina also has kind words for Larry’s friends and “Dallas” co-stars, Linda Gray and Patrick Duffy. She recalls Gray giving him dietary advice after his cancer diagnosis and Duffy standing near her frail father during their public appearances, “always ready to offer a steady hand in case he needed it.” In another poignant memory, Kristina describes accompanying an aging Larry to Pike Place Market in Seattle, where no one recognized him. (In true Hagman style, though, he purchased a giant, stuffed red lizard from a vendor and walked around with it on his shoulder, helping him get the attention he craved.) The book’s most heartbreaking moments include Kristina’s struggle to come to terms with a sexual assault she suffered at the hands of a neighbor, Larry’s efforts to care for Maj after her Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis, and the final chapter, when the author finally solves the mystery of why her father had forgiveness on his mind at the end of his life.

Mostly, though, “The Eternal Party” is about Larry and Kristina’s relationship. She clearly adores him, even if she doesn’t always understand his choices. Likewise, even though I have reservations about some of the disclosures, that doesn’t mean I don’t value the book. In an especially illuminating scene, Kristina recalls accompanying Larry to a public appearance on a military base, where he met a little boy whose father was away in combat. The child knew Larry as Major Nelson on “I Dream of Jeannie” and had come to think of him as a father figure. Kristina writes:

“The boy was so happy, and the way his sad face brightened had a huge effect on Dad. I think he may have had an epiphany that day about his ability to make a difference in people’s lives, and he helped me understand his responsibility to everyone who supported our family by watching him on television. From that day on, I understood that my father would never be mine alone; he belonged to his public.”

More than anything else in “The Eternal Party,” this story makes me appreciate the author, and her willingness to share her famous father with the rest of the world.

Order your copy of “The Eternal Party” online, share your comments below and read more opinions from Dallas Decoder.