Who shot JR? One of the greatest cliffhangers ever written, the summer of 1980 was fueled with speculation. Larry Hagman was offered 100,000 pounds to reveal who shot his Texas oil man character. No one could give the answer because the producers of the show filmed all of the actors shooting the gun and they weren’t talking.
I was lucky to travel to Dallas and visit SouthFork. I’m a fan of the original show and now watch the second generation of Dallas on TNT. It was fun to walk around and remember pieces of the show.
SouthFork Ranch is about twenty-five miles north of Dallas in Parker, Texas. The Ewing Mansion sits front and center on over three hundred acres of land. Today, you can book a special event on the grounds, anything from a twenty guest Chuckwagon Dinner to several hundred for a wedding.
The ranch offers a guided tour of the house and property including a retail store, museum, and gift shop. Tours start at thevisitor’s center where you board a tram that takes you to the house. The driver points out various buildings and recalls interesting facts about the original show. The television show Dallas had millions of viewers from ninety-five foreign countries and is still showing somewhere around the globe today. Thirteen seasons culminated in 356 episodes and JR Ewing (Larry Hagman) was the only actor in all 356 shows.
When you’re dropped off at the mansion you’re invited to take your time and explore and eat lunch by the pool. There’s a café called Miss Ellie’s Deli whereyou can purchase lunch. The house looks much smaller than it does on TV, but let me tell you, it’s spacious inside.
Our guide explained that in 1978, Lorimar approached the owner of the ranch, Mr. Duncan about filming the television show at his ranch, Duncan Acres. Mr. Duncan agreed, but only to exterior shots of the ranch and filming was to be done during the summer months, as not to disturb his son’s school routine. While most of the filming was done on a Los Angeles sound set, the outside shots of the ranch are shot on location.
Originally, the show was slotted for only a five-episode series. But its popularity skyrocketed and Southfork became a tourist mecca. Eventually, the stress became too much and the Duncan family sold.
Now the inside of the house has a themed room for each of the main characters. Although it looks nothing like the interior of what we see on TV, the furnishings are the 1980’s style.
Filming has begun again on Southfork, with TNT’s second generation of Dallas, which second season aired last night. If you liked the original series, this new series pits cousin against cousin, like JR and Bobby sparred, now their sons, John Ross and Christopher fight. Some die-hard Dallas fans might be disappointed, but I think they did a great job setting up this new generation. If you tour in the fall you may be able to watch filming or meet an actor or two.
When you’re done at the house, you can stroll to the many outbuildings. Jock’s Lincoln Continental is parked in a retail Texas apparel store. Longhorn steer roam in a field and across the way is Elena’s cottage, from the new Dallas.
Eventually, you make your way back to the main building where a mini museum shows memorabiliafrom the show. One wall displays the Ewing family tree, pictures and newspaper articles reside alongside Lucy’s wedding dress and the gun that shot JR.
Last is a gift shop. I loved that they has a bookcaseshowcasing romance authors. Of course, the books all had Texas in the title.
Were you a fan of Dallas? Do you remember who shot JR? I’m giving away a $10 Amazon gift card to celebrate PFTH’s anniversary. For commenting, you get put in the hat once. If you correctly guess who shot JR, I’ll put you twice. And for those die-hard Dallas fan’s – who took the place of actress Barbara Bel Geddes as Miss Ellie for a season? I’ll put your name in three times. More chances to win. Good luck.