The Dal-List: Afton Cooper’s 5 Greatest Hits

Afton Cooper, Audrey Landers, Dallas

Dallas idol

Audrey Landers’ new album “Dallas Feels Like Home” includes songs she wrote and performed during her run as Afton Cooper on the original “Dallas,” as well as a special tune from her guest shot on “Guilt and Innocence,” the TNT revival’s most recent episode. Here are my five favorite selections.

Afton Cooper, And Away We Go, Audrey Landers, Dallas

Return engagement

5. “It Takes 2 to Fly.” Five years after leaving Dallas, Afton returns to town in the 12th-season episode “And Away We Go.” She’s become a mother to little Pamela Rebecca and found success as a singer, but there’s someone missing from her life: Cliff, whom Afton still loves, even if she doesn’t want to admit it. No matter. When we see her perform this synthesizer-backed number, the lyrics tell us everything we need to know about what’s going on inside Afton’s heart. A sample: “I’ve got to believe / All alone I never got too far / But together we can touch a star / I can’t deny / It takes two to fly.”

Afton Cooper, Audrey Landers, Dallas, Gathering Storm

Better off without him

4. “Let Me Down Gently.” Oh my, what a sad song! When Afton arrives in Dallas as an ambitious-but-naïve young woman, J.R. instantly pounces and sweeps her off her feet. Their fling goes nowhere, leaving Afton to pour out her heart with this beautiful piano ballad, which she performs in the fourth-season episode “The Gathering Storm.” Sample lyrics: “I know I’m not your first love / Though you are surely mine / Suddenly I know what it means / When they say that love is blind / Because when we kiss I close my eyes / Tight so I won’t see / The love that isn’t there / When you’re looking back at me.” You’re breaking our hearts, Afton!

Afton Cooper, Audrey Landers, Cliff Barnes, Dallas, Ken Kercheval, Mission to Moscow

Tortured love

3. “Through the Eyes of Winter.” In the 12th-season episode “Mission to Moscow,” Cliff (Ken Kercheval) begs Afton to give him another chance. “If we lose each other this time, we may never find each other again. I don’t use the word ‘love’ lightly, but I love you,” he says. This song, which Afton performs in the episode’s first act, suggests she’s beginning to question her decision to leave Cliff all those years ago. The chorus: “Through the eyes of winter / I see I was wrong / Through the eyes of winter / I got to be strong / I may have been blind / But I never meant to be / Now I see through the eyes of winter.”

Afton Cooper, Audrey Landers, Dallas, Guilt and Innocence, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson, Julie Gonzalo, Pamela Rebecca Barnes Ewing, TNT

A song from Mama

2. “Mockingbird.” In “Guilt and Innocence,” when a grownup and very pregnant Pamela (Julie Gonzalo) is injured in an explosion that Cliff secretly engineered, Afton rushes to the young woman’s side and serenades her and John Ross (Josh Henderson) with a nostalgic rendition of the “Mockingbird” lullaby. It’s a charming moment – and Afton’s most intimate, poignant performance. The version Landers recorded for “Dallas Feels Like Home” fits well with the new show’s musical style, right down to the emphasis on strings, a signature of “Dallas” composer Rob Cairns.

Afton Cooper, Audrey Landers, Dallas, Quest

Great singer, great song

1. “Steal Me Away.” Afton’s signature song. She performs it in the fourth-season episodes “Making of a President” and “The Quest,” soon after her affair with J.R. begins. The lyrics nicely capture Afton’s starry-eyed sense of extra-marital infatuation: “Take the side road, baby / Let the moonlight guide your way / Don’t hesitate / Sneak round the back door, baby / I’ll be waiting there for you / You know what to do.” The version of “Steal Me Away” on Landers’ album is gorgeous; best of all, “Dallas” fans will finally get to hear the song’s second verse. Another bonus: The digital booklet that comes with the album includes a reproduction of the sheet music Landers used to compose the song.

What are your favorite performances from Afton Cooper? Share your choices in the comments section below and read more Dal-Lists.

Dallas Styles: Pam’s Perm


In “Start the Revolution with Me,” Victoria Principal sports a new hairstyle – a frizzy permanent, one of the fashion fads of the early 1980s.

The look demonstrates how Pam is always ahead of the curve, and it also gives “Dallas” a chance to show how cool Miss Ellie is. She’s the only character to comment on Pam’s new style, telling her, “I love your new hairdo.”

But there’s symbolism in Pam’s do, too. In “Dallas’s” previous episode “Making of a President,” Sue Ellen urges Pam to have an affair with Alex. “Pam, I just want you to protect yourself,” Sue Ellen says. “The Ewing men are all the same. Bobby and J.R. are into the same power trip, and for you to survive, you have two choices: You can either get out, or you can play by their rules.”

Pam seems to resist the advice, but we know she’s really tempted by Alex. This means Pam is becoming more like her morally ambiguous in-laws – particularly Sue Ellen, who has cheated on J.R. with at least three men (Ray, Cliff and Dusty) at this point during “Dallas’s” run.

So is it any wonder Pam shows up in “Start the Revolution with Me” wearing a perm?

Think about it: A “permanent wave,” according to Wikipedia, is created by stretching and softening hair and molding it around the shape of a perm rod. By allowing herself to get close to another man, isn’t Pam doing something similar – stretching the boundaries of matrimony, relaxing her standards, molding herself into the shape of a Ewing? Or maybe Pam just wants Bobby to notice her.

Whatever the case, the perm doesn’t last long – and thankfully, neither does Pam’s flirtation with infidelity.

Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 68 – ‘Start the Revolution with Me’

No truth in advertising

No truth in advertising

“Start the Revolution with Me” feels a bit like a 1980s version of “Mad Men.” Not only does this fourth-season “Dallas” episode feature lots of talk about advertising, it also shows the Ewings wrestling with changing gender roles, just like the “Mad Men” characters do.

In the episode’s first act, Leslie Stewart, J.R.’s new public relations guru, pitches him some proposed advertising slogans (sample: “Ewing Oil: People Before Profits”), which he scoffs at. “Do you think anybody’s gonna buy that?” J.R. asks with a chuckle. Leslie reminds him the ads will be published in newspapers in New York and London, not his hometown. “J.R., you’re not going to need Dallas. Ewing Oil is going to be an international power,” she coos.

I fell for Leslie during her debut in the previous episode, “Making of a President,” and she continues to fascinate me here. Like all the women on “Dallas,” Leslie is beautiful and feminine, but as “Start the Revolution with Me” demonstrates, she also has all the ambition and confidence of the Ewing men.

With Leslie, it’s important to not just pay attention to what she says, but also how actress Susan Flannery moves. In one of my favorite moments in this episode, Leslie sits at her desk with her arms outstretched behind her head. This confident pose brings to mind a real-life ’80s ad slogan (“Never let them see you sweat”), although Leslie probably doesn’t perspire to begin with.

J.R. doesn’t quite know what to make of Leslie – he flirts with her shamelessly, while she ignores him without apology – and the other women in his life seem a bit bewildered by her too. When J.R. sleeps with his secretary Louella and is unable to perform, she seems to blame Leslie, telling him, “J.R., you shouldn’t let Miss Stewart get to you like this.”

Sue Ellen also puts J.R. on the defensive. “You know, darling,” she quips, “I find it very interesting that you hired a woman to tell you how to run your business. It’s always been a Ewing creed that women were seen, not heard.” His response (“Leslie Stewart is a highly qualified professional. She’s doing a brilliant job.”) demonstrates the sheepishness he feels about handing control of his image over to a woman.

With so much emphasis on female empowerment, you have to wonder if the “revolution” cited in this episode’s title refers to J.R.’s cockamamie scheme to overthrow a foreign government or to the sexual revolution, which began in the 1960s and was still lingering when this segment aired in 1981. Indeed, Leslie’s arrival seems to herald a deliberate attempt by the “Dallas” producers to show how women were making progress as the show – and its audience – moved into the new decade.

In another telling scene in “Start the Revolution with Me,” after Dave Culver announces he’s going to accept the governor’s appointment to the U.S. Senate, Dave and his advisers agree Donna should replace him in the state legislature. Talk about revolutionary: This might not seem like a big deal today, but in 1981, just 12 percent of state lawmakers were women. (That number has since doubled.) Donna ultimately demurs, but it’s nice the producers showed her being considered.

Of course, not all the “Dallas” women are role models. This episode also shows Sue Ellen moving closer to an affair with Clint, another example of how the character seems only to find fulfillment in the arms of a man, while Pam continues to contemplate an affair with Alex.

Meanwhile, Lucy tells Mitch she wants to quit school so she can be a full-time wife to him. To Mitch’s credit, he urges Lucy to reconsider. “School’s important,” Mitch says. “You have to have something in your life that makes you feel complete and satisfied.”

Leslie couldn’t have said it better herself.

Grade: A


Cool heads

Cool heads


Season 4, Episode 14

Airdate: February 6, 1981

Audience: 24.6 million homes, ranking 1st in the weekly ratings

Writer: Rena Down

Director: Larry Hagman

Synopsis: J.R. begins engineering a revolution in the Asian nation where Ewing Oil’s wells were nationalized. Leslie resists J.R.’s advances. On a business trip, Pam almost sleeps with Alex. Sue Ellen suspects someone is following her. Dave accepts an appointment to the U.S. Senate and suggests Donna replace him in Austin, but she declines.

Cast: Barbara Babcock (Liz Craig), Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Len Birman (Claude Brown), Jeff Cooper (Dr. Simon Elby), Jim Davis (Jock Ewing), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Joel Fabiani (Alex Ward), Susan Flannery (Leslie Stewart), Tom Fuccello (Senator Dave Culver), Meg Gallagher (Louella), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Ron Hayes (Hank Johnson), Susan Howard (Donna Culver), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Sherrill Lynn Katzman (Jackie), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Monte Markham (Clint Ogden), Leigh McCloskey (Mitch Cooper), Warren Munson (Paul Winslow), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Cooper), Martin West (Phil McKenna), Morgan Woodward (Punk Anderson)

“Start the Revolution with Me” is available on DVD and at and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.

Dallas Scene of the Day: ‘J.R., You’re My Kind of Man’

Sitting pretty

Sitting pretty

In “Dallas’s” fourth-season episode “Making of a President,” J.R. and Leslie (Larry Hagman, Susan Flannery) dine in a Japanese restaurant.

LESLIE: I was certainly surprised to hear from you so soon, J.R.

J.R.: Well, things have happened, and I thought maybe we ought to talk a little business.

LESLIE: [Noticing his use of chopsticks] You handle those very well.

J.R.: When I was in the service, I spent a lot of time in Japan. You’re doing pretty good yourself. You ever been to the Far East?

LESLIE: No. The first time I ever used them was in Chinatown, New York City.

J.R.: [Laughs] How about a little sashimi? What do you say? [Places food on her plate]

LESLIE: Thank you.

J.R.: And that yellowtail looks real good. Yeah. [To server] Arigato gozaimasu.

LESLIE: Any octopus?

J.R.: Well, I’ve never really acquired a taste for octopus. You like it, do you?

LESLIE: Oh, I adore octopus. I think it’s unusual and exotic … and dangerous.

J.R.: Well, I like a lady whose tastes run to the bizarre at times. Besides octopus, what else?


J.R.: You find me bizarre, do you?

LESLIE: [Laughs] No. Dangerous. [Sips from a cup]

J.R.: Well, should I take that as a form of flattery or –

LESLIE: Not really. If it’s flattery that you want, then I would suggest that we just finish our meal, say goodbye and I’ll pick up the check.

J.R.: Leslie, what’s your angle?

LESLIE: Honesty. At least with my clients. All I’ve ever heard about since I reached Dallas is J.R. Ewing. The more I heard about you, the more I wanted to meet you.

J.R.: Why?

LESLIE: Because they said that you are the biggest cheat, the bigger liar and the biggest double-dealer this town has ever seen, and I think that must be going some.

J.R.: You’re getting closer to picking up that check.

LESLIE: Really?

J.R.: You better think of something to say fast.

LESLIE: J.R., you’re my kind of man. Besides, if you were on the side of the angels, you wouldn’t need Leslie Stewart.

J.R.: [Smiles] You are some kind of woman, you know that?

LESLIE: You put your image in my hands, J.R., and I’ll build you a halo so big, your shoulders will buckle just trying to carry it around.

J.R.: [Chuckles] You know, I’m beginning to believe you can do what you say you can do.

LESLIE: People will come from all over the country – all over the world – begging to do business with you.

J.R.: Well –

LESLIE: Just leave it to me. Trust me. I’ll guide you. I’ll be at your beck and call, day and night.

J.R.: Why don’t we work on those night calls, right about now. What do you say?

LESLIE: Oh, I think I ought to draw up a tentative contract and bring it to your office tomorrow.

J.R.: Now, I still think we ought to seal the deal, right about – [Using her chopsticks, she puts a piece of sushi in his mouth.] What’s that?

LESLIE: Octopus. I can’t think of a better way to seal a deal with you.

Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 67 – ‘Making of a President’

She'll drink your milkshake too

She’ll drink your milkshake too

“Making of a President” introduces one of my favorite “Dallas” characters: public relations whiz Leslie Stewart, played to perfection by Susan Flannery. Leslie only sticks around for a half-season so she might not be remembered by some fans, which is a shame because she’s one of the most intriguing women ever seen on this show.

Leslie is J.R.’s equal in every way. To begin with, both are schemers, as we see in the “Making of a President” scene where she charms Bobby into meeting with her, even though he’s trying to keep a low profile with his new alternative energy division. Later, we learn Leslie wasn’t really after Bobby’s business after all; she was just using him to meet J.R.

Leslie and J.R.’s other similarities are on display in the wonderfully written scene where they dine together in a Japanese restaurant. Here, we learn Leslie is just as worldly as J.R. (he learned to eat with chopsticks during the service, she did in New York), just as outspoken (she suggests he’s a “liar,” a “cheat” and a “double-dealer”) and also just as ambitious (she promises to build him “a halo so big, your shoulders will buckle just trying to carry it around”). Best of all, I love how Leslie refers to herself in the third person (“if you were on the side of the angels, you wouldn’t need Leslie Stewart”), just as J.R. is prone to do.

Like J.R., Leslie is also unapologetically sexual. At the end of “Making of a President,” she sleeps with her friend Justin Carlisle, then kicks him out of bed so she can focus on her business dealings. “I need room to maneuver,” she says.

From this perspective, Leslie resembles two other 1980s icons who were often described as “female versions” of J.R.: Alexis Carrington of “Dynasty” and Abby Cunningham of “Knots Landing.” The comparisons are apt, but remember: Leslie came along almost a year before Alexis arrived and a long time before Abby made her mark. Miss Stewart is the real trailblazer.

Not surprisingly, the Ewing men aren’t quite sure what to make of Leslie. During their Japanese dinner, J.R. hints he wants to sleep with her, while Bobby can’t resist commenting on Leslie’s physical appearance when he meets with her in his office. “You’re very knowledgeable and extremely attractive,” Bobby says. In both instances, Leslie smiles politely and changes the subject. Thirty years ago, what else could a woman do?

It might be tempting to feel sorry for Leslie, but the character is far too cool to want anyone’s sympathy, which is why casting Flannery in the role was genius. The actress joined “Dallas” after a lengthy run as heroine Laura Horton on “Days of Our Lives” and watching her in “Making of a President,” I get the feeling she’s thrilled to be playing against type. In many ways, Leslie was Flannery’s warm-up for Stephanie Forrester, the controlling matriarch she’s played on “The Bold and the Beautiful” since its 1987 debut.

As groundbreaking as Leslie is, she isn’t “Making of a President’s” only device to expose the rampant sexism in the Ewing family. This episode also includes a scene where Jock dismisses the threat to his development project posed by the Daughters of the Alamo. “By the time those ladies finish sipping their tea and making sure their hats are on straight, we’ll have a permit,” he says.

We’re also treated to an amusing moment where Miss Ellie, still distressed over Jock’s relationship with Ray, comes home a little tipsy after having drinks with Donna.

“Miss Ellie, where in the hell have you been?” an agitated Jock asks. “Teresa’s been holding dinner for 45 minutes.”

“Well, then,” Ellie responds matter-of-factly. “I guess we better eat it.”

It’s the perfect response – delivered with aplomb by Barbara Bel Geddes – and a nice reminder that Leslie isn’t the only woman who knows how to handle the Ewing men.

Grade: A


Mama's home

Mama’s home


Season 4, Episode 13

Airdate: January 30, 1981

Audience: 27.1 million homes, ranking 1st in the weekly ratings

Writer: Arthur Bernard Lewis

Director: Gunnar Hellström

Synopsis: J.R. returns to power at Ewing Oil but finds his friends don’t want to do business with him, so he hires public relations executive Leslie Stewart to rehabilitate his image. Bobby starts an alternative-energy division. Clint tells Sue Ellen he still loves her.

Cast: Robert Ackerman (Wade Luce), Tyler Banks (John Ross Ewing III), Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Ivan Bonar (Milton), Jeff Cooper (Dr. Simon Elby), Jim Davis (Jock Ewing), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Joel Fabiani (Alex Ward), Susan Flannery (Leslie Stewart), Anne Francis (Arliss Cooper), Tom Fuccello (Senator Dave Culver), Meg Gallagher (Louella), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Jerry Hardin (Elroy Askew), Ron Hayes (Hank Johnson), Susan Howard (Donna Culver), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Audrey Landers (Afton Cooper), Monte Markham (Clint Ogden), Leigh McCloskey (Mitch Cooper), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Robert Sampson (Senator Pascomb), Paul Sorensen (Andy Bradley), Don Starr (Jordan Lee), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Cooper), Deborah Tranelli (Phyllis), Noble Willingham (Justin Carlisle), Morgan Woodward (Punk Anderson)

“Making of a President” is available on DVD and at and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.