After suffering two seasons of low ratings and mediocre reviews, Dallas became an instant television classic after J.R. Ewing was shot on the show in 1980. From there, over 100-million viewers tuned in to witness the escapades of the wealthy Ewing family. Like any good show, the drama off-screen tends to outmatch the stories written into the script.
There were plenty of scandals and backstage antics that occurred throughout the show’s duration. We are going to count down the top 12 facts and secrets about Dallas that’ll leave you wanting to watch a marathon of reruns.
The original title of the show was Houston since the oil industry was more prominent in the city and Dallas was known for banking. When the script was read by an executive producer, he decided to change the name to Dallas because of how much easier it rolls off of the tongue.
11. Cliffhangers Affected Real Life
When cliffhangers became a popular television tool used to increase viewership, Dallas producers took it to the next level. For example, the “Who Shot J.R.?” episode was used as leverage when renewing Larry Hagman’s contract. If his demands were too outrageous, the character may not survive the shooting.
10. J.R. Is A Good Guy?
Many people look at oil men as rigged, heartless, and tough businessmen, and the character of J.R. on Dallas is no different. Larry Hagman had grown partial to his character stating, “J.R wasn’t that bad…I wouldn’t call him bad; he was just an oil man.”
9. Based On His Real Boss
Perhaps Hagman was just used to the attitude and demeanor of oil industry tycoons because J.R. was based on a real employer he once worked for. The actor grew up in Texas and worked for oil families so he really understood the minute details when it came to portraying one on television.
8. The Dallas Quest
Believe it or not, there was a computer game based on the show called The Dallas Quest. The 8-bit game was published by Datasoft and programmed for the Tandy Color Computer, Commodore 64. In the game, you are a famous detective hired by Sue Ellen who must locate a map to rich oil fields.
7. Heavy Drinkers
Nearly everyone on the set was known to drink heavily throughout the show, but especially Patrick Duffy and Larry Hagman. Hagman said, “I was drinking five bottles of champagne a day [during the filming of the original series], but I was never drunk.” He later had a liver transplant due to his alcoholism.
6. Going The Distance
The fame and popularity of Dallas would end up reaching practically every corner of the Earth having been dubbed into 67 languages in over 90 different countries. Larry Hagman is the only actor to star in the whole series, meaning J.R. appeared in 357 episodes throughout the show’s lifetime.
5. Duffy’s “Imagined” Return
Patrick Duffy finally returned to the set of Dallas to reprise his role after his scripted death and he couldn’t be more thrilled to reunite with his castmates. Duffy’s character had originally passed away, but the whole season was later (and controversially) written off as a “dream sequence” of his wife, bringing Duffy’s character back to life in an infamous shower scene.
4. J.R.’s Hat
J.R.’s hat has become a television icon. It is one of the most recognizable features of the show and characterizes everything it means to be a wealthy oil man in Texas. No one knows exactly what the hat is worth, but it is important enough to be kept in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.
3. Credited For The Fall Of Communism
When it was first released, Dallas was banned in the Soviet Union and Romania. After residents began to start watching the show, Romania’s leader lifted the ban thinking it was anti-capitalistic. Communism fell shortly after. Hagman later said, “I think it was good old-fashioned greed that got them to question their authority.”
2. Sue Ellen’s Originally Limited Role
The character of Sue Ellen originally appeared on the pilot episode and was supposed to be a guest appearance, but the show’s producers loved Linda Grey so much, they decided to give her a co-starring role. She later appeared on the 2012 series and became the most powerful woman in Dallas.
1. The Dallas Remake
When they rebooted Dallas in 2012, the producers were worried the show would become a cheesy attempt to bring back a classic. However, the show did a pretty respectable job of staying true to the original by sticking with some key characters and introducing new characters and believable plot lines.
Dallas still remains one of the longest lasting hour-long primetime dramas in American television history, not including the remake. In 2007, the show was included in TIME Magazine’s list of “100 Best TV Shows of All-TIME. Dallas even inspired a spinoff, Knot’s Landing, that also lasted 14 seasons.
The final episode of the spinoff aired on September 22, 2014, after three seasons. The show inspired a prequel made-for-TV movie and various specials and a reunion show proving that it will always remain a pop culture classic. With an over-flooded television market with constantly changing lineups, it’ll be hard for any show to match the success of Dallas.