Bobby Ewing, of the piercing blue eyes and the lustrous brown feathered hair, was the iconic romantic hero of 1980s television. “Dallas” fans were devastated when he died, and shocked when he reappeared, alive and well, two years later. Though his thick hair is a little greyer now, Patrick Duffy still has the baby blues and the heart of gold. And, he promises that Bobby will still be wearing the white hat when TNT’s continuation of the primetime soap debuts Wednesday, June 13. “I’m a retired person living on my ranch, a gentleman rancher, the patriarch of the family. I am the elder statesman of the family,” says Duffy. “I’m not the young, dark haired swaggering heroic figure. I’m a combination of Jock and Miss Ellie. And I like that. I think it’s perfect.”
Duffy has thought a great deal about the legacy of “Dallas.” After the show aired its final episode in 1992, he was involved in several TV movies that continued the saga, which he admits did not live up to the source material. “I don’t even consider that last movie, [made in 1998] part of ‘Dallas.’ It was such a bad thing. Larry [Hagman] and I produced that, and it proved to me that nobody knew how to do ‘Dallas.’ [Executive producer] Leonard Katzman knew how to do ‘Dallas’ and when Leonard died, nobody knew how to do it.” Plans for a big budget feature film based on “Dallas” fell apart, and he considered the series over. But, much like Bobby in that infamous shower scene, the show was resurrected, thanks to a writer who captured the magic of the original series. “What happened is that twenty years later Cynthia Cidre wrote a script that Larry, Linda [Grey] and I loved, and then I found out what happened to Bobby. Because she wrote that first [draft of the] pilot for the new series with Bobby celebrating his sixtieth birthday, although I’m sixty three, and it was as if ‘Dallas’ continued and we just weren’t watching.”
Preview the Return of “Dallas”:
There is one major original cast member who is not a part of the new series: Victoria Principal, who played Bobby’s true love, Pam. according to Duffy, if the new show is a hit, there may be a Bobby and Pam reunion. “[Cidre] said any actor who has ever been on Dallas and is still alive has the option – not their option, but Cynthia has the option if she wants to use somebody, to bring that character back [in a way] that would service the story.”
Duffy remembers Bobby’s greatest moments as if they were filmed last week. He shared his recollections of some classic episodes, which XfinityTV.com has unearthed from a vault buried 100 feet below South Fork ranch and digitized for your viewing pleasure.
“First of all, the first five episodes are the best episodes we’ve ever done,” says Duffy. “They reminded me of ‘The Last Picture Show.’ They had such a sense of Texas, the wasteland thing, It was wonderful looking and wonderful feeling. Being able to be in that opening scene in the car, then coming back and realizing that I was marrying a Montague and a Capulet together, it was great.” Duffy says the cast had no idea that they were creating what would become one of the most popular series in television history. “It was strange to film in the sense that none of us knew who we were. Victoria and I didn’t have a relationship. We were two actors from California who were told that we were Romeo and Juliet. I didn’t have a relationship with Larry, I was told he was my evil older brother. In the script, he tries to set Pam up with Ray Krebs and all that stuff, but none of us knew who our characters were, so it was so much fun to look back and see the embryonic stages of who we were to become later.” Pay close attention to Bobby’s wardrobe, Duffy notes. “A little piece of trivia… our opening shot is Bobby and Pam in the car and I was wearing this leather jacket. The final scene of the [last] episode in year 13 when I hear the gunshot and run upstairs to see whatever I see, I’m wearing the same jacket that I was in the opening shot of ‘Dallas.’ We did it on purpose, Leonard and I. I said, ‘I still have that jacket.’ He said, ‘Wear it and we’ll do it.’ And the opening shot and the last shot [of the series] is the same.”
Watch the First Episode of the “Dallas” Mini-Series, “Digger’s Daughter”:
The First Ewing Barbecue
Eagle eyed viewers will notice that the Ewing ranch seems a little different in the show’s second episode.”That was at a different Southfork. That was at a Southfork that had these big, Southern mansion pillars in the front. It was a different ranch that we used. It was freezing cold. It was so cold when we were doing that, and we’re out there in our shirts going, “Hey, we’re having a barbecue.”
Hardcore “Dallas” fans take note: Duffy is watching your online tributes. “I saw [Bobby’s death] scene just the other day on my phone. I was doing something, and then there was a link and I went to that, and then two other links, and all of a sudden there were these little three and four minute vignettes that people had put together of their favorite stuff, and I got addicted, watching me. I was just going, ‘What’s the next one? Oh, I remember that.’ But I saw him get in the car and then him dying.” Though it was his choice to leave the show, Duffy found it difficult to film what he believed was his final episode. “I was saying goodbye to my closest friends. I wasn’t leaving in a snit. We all loved each other so much. Leonard Katzman actually directed that episode where I died and it was emotional for all of us. My wife came to the set, which she very seldom did. Everybody was crying for real. Leonard couldn’t even cut the camera. When it was done, he couldn’t talk. But then I came back.”
Watch Bobby’s Death in “Swan Song”:
Bobby Appears in the Shower. His Death is Revealed to be a Bad Dream
Given the show’s popularity at the time, it is not an exaggeration to say that all of America was shocked when Pam saw Bobby in the shower at the end of the 1986 television season. Duffy reveals that his fellow cast members, as well as CBS, were equally surprised. “Victoria [Principal] had no idea I was in the shower until the show was on the air and she was watching it at home. It was actually John Beck [who played Mark Graison] in the shower. They had a scene together, talking. But when she opened the door [in the air show], all of a sudden it was me. She was like, “Noooo!” Duffy explains how he, and the show’s producers, kept everyone in the dark. “They knew I was coming back on the show, but nobody knew how. So Leonard and I and one other person, his brother-in-law, actually went in a different part of Los Angeles to a commercial filming company, and we filmed a commercial for Irish Spring soap, in a fake little shower in the middle of a soundstage, with a whole new crew. Not one person from “Dallas” involved in it at all. I spent the entire day going, ‘Good morning, and you can have a good morning too, if you wake up like the Duffy family with Irish Spring soap.’ And we would do take after take. And they would put suds around it in order to fool even the crew into thinking it was really a commercial. And Leonard just took that one cut of me turning and going, ‘Good morning’ and that was the freeze frame for the show and I was back. And, that piece of film, it’s put on like three inch film when it’s telecast on the networks, it was like a spy movie. A man with a handheld suitcase put that piece of film in the suitcase, got on a flight from Los Angeles to New York, went to CBS in New York, to the distribution place, and an hour before the show aired, that piece of film was cut in. So nobody knew. Not even CBS knew.”
Watch Bobby Return in “Blast From the Past”:
“Dallas” Premieres on Wednesday, June 13 at 9/8c on TNT.