Charlene Tilton Remembers Lucy Ewing’s Many Loves

Charlene Tilton, Dallas, Lucy Ewing

Southfork sweetheart

Poor Lucy Ewing never found Mr. Right — but not for lack of trying. To mark Valentine’s Day, Dallas Decoder spoke to Charlene Tilton about her character’s many romances. Read her memories below, along with an update on her latest projects.


Charlene Tilton, Dallas, Lucy Ewing, Ray Krebbs, Steve Kanaly

Drive him crazy

Ray Krebbs (Steve Kanaly)

Back in the day, that relationship was very controversial. I was so much younger and looked so much younger than Steve. In our first scene in the hayloft, Lucy tells Ray, “Call me her name. Call me Pam.” That was some kinky stuff! [Laughs] I honestly didn’t get it until I watched it years later. I also remember Steve’s response when I walked in the room and we met for the first time. He said, “Oh shoot, she’s just a baby!” But Steve was so sweet. He made me feel very comfortable during filming. And Steve and his wife became great friends of mine — and that has continued until this day.


Charlene Tilton, Dallas, Greg Evigan, Lucy Ewing, Willie Gust

Cool van, bro

Willie Gust (Greg Evigan)

Oh, I loved him! He kidnapped Lucy and made her sing “Silver Threads and Golden Needles”! [Laughs] That was hysterical. Not one of Lucy’s brightest moments, but I loved doing that episode. Greg was great. Here we were, filming in these offbeat places around Texas, and he and I would hang out and have lunch or dinner together. He was an unbelievably talented actor and so handsome. I don’t know if you’ve seen him recently, but — hello! — that man looks great. He and his wife are the nicest people. He’s always been such a family man. He’s a gem.


Charlene Tilton, Dallas, Kit Mainwaring, Lucy Ewing, Mark Wheeler

Secret love

Kit Mainwaring (Mark Wheeler)

My favorite. Mark was an extremely, extremely talented actor, and I loved the storyline. Lord have mercy, there was nothing like this on television at the time. Kit was the son of a wealthy oil family, and J.R. wanted my character to marry his, even though he was secretly gay. The show wasn’t even allowed to use that word at the time. We had to say “homosexual.” But the writers did such a great job handling it. And I loved the storyline on so many levels. When J.R. threatens to expose Kit, Lucy says, “I’ll take care of it” and she shuts J.R. up. I look back at that episode and I have to tell you: I am so proud of my performance and Mark’s performance too.


Alan Beam, Charlene Tilton, Dallas, Randolph Powell

Fur sure

Alan Beam (Randolph Powell)

Boy, wasn’t Alan a schemer! He really hurt Lucy when he teamed up with J.R., and then of course J.R. brought him down. But I loved Randolph. He was a gentleman: very nice, very talented — and with a very hairy chest. [Laughs] We had several bedroom scenes. He was cuddly!


Charlene Tilton, Dallas, Leigh McCloskey, Lucy Ewing, Mitch Cooper

Married: The first year

Dr. Mitch Cooper (Leigh McCloskey)

Leigh is awesome. Like Mitch, he’s very intellectual, very cerebral. I loved all of our scenes together. I’ll never forget the first time Mitch comes on the screen. He’s working as a valet parking attendant, and Lucy comes out of the nightclub drunk. As soon as he smiles, you think, “I bet every woman on the planet wishes she were in Lucy’s drunken stilettos right now!” [Laughs] Mitch was Lucy’s knight in shining armor. He didn’t care about her family’s wealth. But after they got married, the producers didn’t really know what to do with us. I think that’s when they began to write Lucy into a corner. I did love when Lucy hired the maid to do all her cleaning behind Mitch’s back. I thought, “That’s a good idea!” [Laughs]


Charlene Tilton, Dallas, Dennis Redfield, Lucy Ewing, Roger Larson

Just shoot her

Roger Larson (Dennis Redfield)

When Roger kidnapped Lucy and raped her, she became pregnant. I was pregnant in real life, and I had to do all of these episodes where I sit around saying, “I don’t want this baby.” As an actress, I felt I couldn’t give it my all because I didn’t want to affect my pregnancy with my beautiful daughter. So I would go home every night and say, “Mommy loves you.” I didn’t go as deep with that storyline as I normally would have. But Dennis is a wonderful, wonderful actor. And how funny is this? Years later, my daughter was going to a performing arts high school in Los Angeles where Dennis was teaching. I ran into him and it was so lovely. I was kind of sorry when I heard he quit acting because he was so good.


Bill Johnson, Charlene Tilton, Dallas, Lucy Ewing, Nicholas Hammond

Her favorite things

Bill Johnson (Nicholas Hammond)

Oh. My. Goodness. It’s so funny. I don’t remember my storyline with him. All I remember is that I was with Friedrich von Trapp! [Laughs] I am a “Sound of Music” fanatic. I’ve literally seen the movie over 150 times — and I am not kidding you. So when I saw his name on the call sheet in the makeup room, I started screaming, “Nicholas Hammond!” I was so enamored of him. All I wanted to do was ask him questions about Julie Andrews and filming in the Alps and Salzburg. Every time the director would yell, “Cut,” I’d ask Nicholas a ton of questions. “So when you were doing the ‘Do-Re-Me’ scene, what was that like?” I’m sure I was really annoying. [Laughs] But he was very polite and nice.


Charlene Tilton, Dallas, Lucy Ewing, Mickey Trotter, Timothy Patrick Murphy

Mick or treat

Mickey Trotter (Timothy Patrick Murphy)

My Timmy Pat. He and I became really great friends. We’d hang out off the set when we weren’t filming, even after “Dallas.” I genuinely adored him. I did not know that he was living a gay lifestyle. I had no idea. It makes me really sad because back in those days, a lot of actors felt like it would hurt their career to be out. When I learned he was dying of AIDS, I called him and we talked but he wouldn’t see me. He wouldn’t let anyone see him that sick. So I think of him with a lot of sadness because to hide a lifestyle, and to hide being sick, that seems like a lot of torture to me. But I loved our storyline, and I loved how the show pushed the envelope with Mickey’s death. The scene where I break down and lash out at Ray is one of my favorites. We did it in one take.


Charlene Tilton, Christopher Atkins, Dallas, Lucy Ewing, Peter Richards

Night owls

Peter Richards (Christopher Atkins)

I love Christopher. He was great, but what a storyline! Here’s Lucy chasing this young man and he’s sneaking around with her aunt Sue Ellen. It was so provocative. And one of my very favorite scenes that I ever got to do on the show was the party where Lucy discovers that Peter is not interested in her and she gets drunk and tells him off. I have to say, as an actress, I’m really proud of that performance. And of course J.R. was behind the whole thing. He played Lucy like a puppet. He pulled all the strings! [Laughs]


Charlene Tilton, Dallas, Eddie Cronin, Frederic Lehne, Lucy Ewing

Wait, wait. Don’t tell him.

Eddie Cronin (Frederic Lehne)

This was a fun storyline because it gave me something different to do, but I wasn’t quite sure how believable it was. Lucy parks her beautiful Mercedes so she can take the bus to the diner to work as a waitress? [Laughs] And then of course Eddie loved Betty, who also worked at the diner. I remember the fight scene between Lucy and Betty. Kathleen York is really a tall woman. She’s, like, 5’11 and I’m 5’2. So that was pretty funny.


Andrew Stevens, Casey Denault, Charlene Tilton, Dallas, Lucy Ewing

Cold Casey

Casey Denault (Andrew Stevens)

Andrew Stevens is another fabulous actor. He was very handsome and we would hang together off the set as well. He was there by himself and I was too. I really liked working with him.


Alex Barton, Charlene Tilton, Dallas, Lucy Ewing, Michael Wilding

Eye to eye

Alex Barton (Michael Wilding)

Let me tell you: Michael Wilding was so handsome and nice. His character was interested in J.R.’s wife Cally, and I kept thinking, “Let Lucy come in and break this up!” [Laughs] I thought he was such a gentleman. He’s Elizabeth Taylor’s son in real life, and boy, did he have his mother’s eyes. Just gorgeous. Mesmerizing. He’s the one that got away!


Charlene Tilton’s Next Role: Tammy Faye Bakker

Charlene Tilton Tammy Faye Bakker RAW copy

Double Tammy

So what is Charlene Tilton up to these days?

The beloved “Dallas” star is continuing work on a one-woman stage production on the life of Tammy Faye Bakker. Tilton hopes to take the show on tour before hitting New York City.

Tilton’s other role: proud mom. Her daughter is country music star Cherish Lee, whose self-titled album is available from iTunes. One of the songs, “Nowhere,” has even inspired a fan-made video that features clips of Lucy and her many boyfriends.

To keep up with Tilton, be sure to like her Facebook page.

Which of Lucy Ewing’s love interests did you like best? Share your comments below and read more features from Dallas Decoder.

Dallas Scene of the Day: ‘Could You Learn to Live with Sam?’

Charlene Tilton, Dallas, Kit Mainwaring, Mark Wheeler, Royal Marriage

Facing the truth

In “Royal Marriage,” a second-season “Dallas” episode, Lucy (Charlene Tilton) and Kit (Mark Wheeler) are in his apartment, seated on the sofa and talking about their future.

KIT: Lucy, I can’t marry you.

LUCY: [Flabbergasted] What are you talking about?

KIT: I can’t go through with it.

LUCY: I don’t understand. You said you loved me.

KIT: I –

LUCY: Didn’t you mean it? Did you lie to me?

KIT: No, I didn’t lie.

LUCY: But if you love me –

KIT: OK, listen. Remember when we met Sam the other night when we were dancing?

LUCY: Yeah.

KIT: He wasn’t just my roommate. We were lovers.

LUCY: [Stunned] What?

KIT: I’m a homosexual.

LUCY: You can’t be. I don’t believe it.

KIT: I am.

LUCY: Then why –

KIT: Because I didn’t want to be. I wanted to be socially normal. I wanted to be accepted. [Stands up, turns away] I wanted to make my parents happy, to make them proud of me. There are a whole lot of reasons. When I first started to care for you, I was like a drowning man who just found himself a life raft or something.

LUCY: Then that’s OK, Kit. [Stretches across the sofa, reaches and pulls him back down] Then everything will be all right. If a life raft is what you need, that’s what I’ll be.

KIT: Lucy, it’s not that simple.

LUCY: I love you, Kit. I don’t like what you’re telling me, but I can learn to live with it. I know I can.

KIT: Could you learn to live with Sam, too?

LUCY: Sam?

KIT: Or if not Sam, someone else? I’m telling you Lucy, I’m not going to change. I know it. I’m tired to trying. I’ve got to learn to like myself the way I am. Now could you marry me under those conditions?

LUCY: I don’t – No.

KIT: [Moves closer to face her] Lucy, somehow by loving you, I’ve managed to find out a whole lot about myself and I’m very grateful to you for that. I can’t tell you how badly I feel that I’ve hurt you. If I’d known it was gonna end up like this, I never would have let it get started.

LUCY: [Sobs] Oh, Kit.

KIT: Now it’s gonna be messy, too. Because Bobby understands but J.R. is furious and he’s not gonna keep his mouth shut.

LUCY: Bobby and J.R. know?

KIT: I told Bobby this morning. J.R. has known it all the time. Now, I’ll tell my folks. I don’t know how, but I will. But that’s not gonna satisfy J.R. He’s gonna want some kind of a scandal, I know it.

LUCY: I know how to deal with J.R. There won’t be any scandal. [Kisses him, stands over him] Kit, can we still see each other sometimes?

KIT: I would love to see you again. But I think we bought ought to wait until it stops hurting first.

LUCY: Well, that’s not going to be for a very long time.

She leaves.

Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 26 – ‘Royal Marriage’

Charlene Tilton, Dallas, Kit Mainwaring, Mark Wheeler, Royal Marriage

Beard and groom

“Royal Marriage” is historically significant television. When this episode debuted in 1979, it offered one of prime time’s first positive depictions of a gay character: Kit Mainwaring, the closeted oil-and-cattle heir who becomes Lucy’s fiancée.

“Dallas” goes out of its way not to scorn Kit. This was a mark of progress in the ’70s, when gay characters were rarely seen on television, and when they did show up, they were usually depicted as clowns, freaks or sociopaths.

A year-and-a-half before “Dallas” introduced Kit, Billy Crystal’s gay character sashayed around in dresses on “Soap.” Earlier in the decade, a gay patient on “Marcus Welby, M.D.” was advised to “fight” his impulses so he could lead a “normal” life, while Angie Dickinson tangled with a trio of lesbian killers on “Police Woman.”

On “Dallas,” Kit is never depicted as comical, strange or dangerous. He becomes engaged to Lucy after a whirlwind romance, but realizes it would be wrong to marry her and comes out to Bobby, who is mostly sympathetic toward him. “Your personal life is your own business, Kit,” Bobby says. “But, damn it, why did you have to bring Lucy into it?”

Bobby is “Dallas’s” moral compass, so by making him respectful toward Kit, the show seems to instruct its audience to treat the character the same way. When Kit finally reveals the truth to Lucy, she is devastated but ultimately supportive, even telling him she’d like to remain friends.

This might seem a little pat, but Lucy probably understands Kit’s turmoil better than most. His feelings of alienation aren’t unlike Lucy’s own struggles to fit in at Southfork, where she is a young woman in a houseful of deceitful adults.

Predictably, J.R. is the only Ewing who isn’t supportive of Kit, mostly because the young man’s broken engagement to Lucy means the Ewings and Mainwarings won’t be joining forces in business. J.R. does exhibit a hint of homophobia, though, wondering if Kit is “man enough” to stand up to him. This prompts Bobby’s notable retort: “Kit Mainwaring is more a man, J.R., than you will ever be.”

Of course, the most striking part of Kit’s coming out isn’t how J.R. rejects him or Bobby and Lucy accept him – it’s how Kit accepts himself. He tells Lucy, “I’m not gonna change. I’m tired of trying. I’ve got to learn to like myself the way I am.”

Camille Marchetta’s sensitive script makes “Royal Marriage” one of “Dallas’s” classiest episodes. It’s also surprisingly durable, with one exception: Kit’s constant use of the word “homosexual” – no character in this episode ever says “gay” – makes it sound like he has a clinical condition.

“Royal Marriage” is also elevated by strong performances from Mark Wheeler and especially Charlene Tilton, who is quite touching during Kit’s coming-out scene. In interviews, Tilton has called “Royal Marriage” one of her favorite episodes, and I see why. The actress is really good here, demonstrating how interesting Lucy can be when she is given meaningful storylines.

“Royal Marriage” is a sentimental favorite of mine, too. I watched this episode for the first time in 1991, when I was a teenager struggling to accept my own homosexuality. Back then, seeing my favorite show offer a positive view of gay people meant a lot to me.

It still does.

Grade: A


Dallas, Kit Mainwaring, Mark Wheeler, Royal Marriage

Prince of a gay


Season 2, Episode 21

Airdate: March 9, 1979

Audience: 15.8 million homes, ranking 20th in the weekly ratings

Writer: Camille Marchetta

Director: Gunnar Hellström

Synopsis: Lucy gets engaged to Kit Mainwaring, who is secretly gay. When Kit tells Lucy the truth and calls off the wedding, she is hurt but prevents J.R. from creating a scandal.

Cast: Robert Ackerman (Wade Luce), Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Linden Chiles (Chris Mainwaring), Dante D’Andre (Jesus), Jim Davis (Jock Ewing), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Fern Fitzgerald (Marilee Stone), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Joan Lancaster (Linda Bradley), Jay W. MacIntosh (Mrs. Mainwaring), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Paul Sorensen (Andy Bradley), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing), Mark Wheeler (Kit Mainwaring), Chuck Winters (Sam Gates), Buck Young (Seth Stone)

“Royal Marriage” is available on DVD and at and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.