New show on TNT reunites fans with iconic villainBy Sara Martin
How will Dallas carry on without J.R.?
In the wake of actor Larry Hagman’s death, fans of the primetime soap opera are grappling with the loss of their favorite villain.
Love him or hate him, J. R. Ewing was a force to be reckoned with, both in the original series and the remake currently airing on TNT.
According to a TNT spokeswoman, J.R. will be killed off and given a proper funeral during this second season of the series’ revival. There are no plans to recast Hagman’s role.
Who shot J.R.?
This isn’t the first time that fans have faced the prospect of a Dallas without the show’s most controversial character.
That was the question on March 21, 1980, when the original series ended its third season with the cliffhanger episode “A House Divided.” At the time, it was the highest-rated television episode in U.S. history.
“Who shot J.R.?” became the catchphrase during the summer and fall of 1980, as viewers had to wait until November to learn that J.R.’s sister-in-law (and mistress) pulled the trigger.
Highland Springs resident Barbara Kain had a front-row seat to the action. Barbara was cast as a nurse in the scene where a wounded J.R. was taken to the hospital. Time magazine ran a photo of J.R. in the operating room surrounded by concerned doctors and a nurse, played by Barbara.
“I’ll let you in on a little secret,” says Barbara. “That’s not really Larry Hagman on the stretcher. It was a double. Larry was holding out for a raise.”
That episode marked Barbara’s debut in front of the camera. She had worked on the set since the show’s first season as a stand-in for Miss Ellie, played by Barbara Bel Geddes.
“I got a late start in my career,” says Barbara Kain. “I raised my children before I signed on with the Kim Dawson modeling and talent agency in Dallas. That’s how I got the job as Miss Ellie’s stand-in, which means that I helped stage scenes before the actual filming began.”
As a stand-in, Barbara was often in close proximity to the actors.
“Larry Hagman was like royalty on the set,” says Barbara. “He loved strutting his stuff. Whenever he came around, you got the feeling that the show could go on.”
The show will go on, despite the loss of J.R. The Dallas revival netted seven million viewers during its first season and spurred a fresh interest in the Ewing home, Southfork Ranch.
“The number of visitors to Southfork Ranch has more than doubled since the new show aired,” says Janna Timm, regional director of sales and marketing at Southfork Ranch. “It put us back on the map.”
Timm says the news of Hagman’s passing has also driven more guests to the famous house located in Parker, just northeast of Dallas.
“People were leaving flowers at the gate, and we had more than 3,000 visitors to the ranch during a free, two-hour memorial in December.”
Hooked on Dallas
Highland Springs residents were among those making a pilgrimage to Southfork Ranch. Barbara Blachly, community resources coordinator at the North Dallas community, organized a trip for interested residents after the first season aired last summer.
Jim and Sue Fassett, who are originally from Wichita, Kans., were among those who visited the Ewing homestead.
“We were great fans of the original series,” says Jim. “Now we’ve started watching the remake. When Barbara Blachly put together this trip to Southfork Ranch, we knew we wanted to go.”
Jim adds that Larry Hagman’s passing won’t affect their decision to watch the show.
“We’re hooked,” he says. “The show is always colorful, and it will be interesting to see how it carries on without the most colorful character of all.”