3 T’s shape image of Big D: tragedy, triumph, TV

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THE EWINGS TAKE DALLAS:

In 1978, CBS gave the green light to a primetime soap opera that would focus on the devious twists and turns of a wealthy Texas oil family.

They were the Ewings and “Dallas” was their town.

For America, the show epitomized a city and state where everything _ houses, cars, clothes, hair, trouble _ had to be bigger and better than anywhere else. And no one captured the imagination like one of the Ewing sons, J.R.

Portrayed by Larry Hagman, he was such a manipulative, intriguing character that when season two ended with him being shot in his office after seemingly angering the entire state of Texas, the whole country seemed to chime in on who might have pulled the trigger.

“People used to think we all lived like that,” said Sally Peavy, a native Texan who works as tourism sales manager at Southfork Ranch in suburban Dallas. “Of course we didn’t, but we would tell everyone, ‘Yeah, we all have a ranch and we all drive big cars.”

The opening sequence included a flyover of Southfork, and the outside scenes were filmed there each summer through most of the series’ 13-year run. Originally known as Duncan Acres when the home was built in 1970, it wound up being transformed into a tourist attraction and conference center that draws more than 300,000 people a year.

You can see everything from the gun that shot J.R. to Lucy Ewing’s wedding dress.

Lively, the head of the Super Bowl committee, speaks for the locals who never appreciated their depiction on “Dallas.”

“It was not representative of the people of Dallas,” he said. “That theme song still haunts me. I can’t get it out of my head, and I’ve sure tried over the years.”

Peavy, speaking in a Texas twang punctuated by words like “honey” and “baby,” sees things differently.

“Oh my gosh, look at the clothes, the shopping they did at Neiman Marcus,” she said. “Look at what they were driving. And I used to love that big hair and shoulder pads. That was all part of the era.

“I think it kind of brought a positive light to Dallas after the Kennedy assassination,” she added. “At least that’s the way I look at it.”

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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