Feb. 2, 2011— -- Long before the Sopranos became television's most talked about family, another clan had shamelessly marked its territory. Those folks were the Ewings of Southfork Ranch, and they lived on the legendary prime-time soap opera, "Dallas."
The good news is the original Ewings are planning to put out the welcome mat for a return visit for their fans. Larry Hagman, Patrick Duffy and Linda Gray will all reprise their original roles for a TNT pilot remake of the iconic series. An air date for the pilot has not yet been announced by the cable network.
"Dallas," which debuted in 1978 on CBS and had an astonishing 13-year run, centered around the Ewings, who had money, oil, cattle, and more scandals and power struggles than most iconic television families. The remake "will focus on J.R.'s son, John Ross Ewing, and Bobby and Pam Ewing's adopted son, Christopher," said The Daily Mail.
Here's a look at some of "Dallas"'s key players then and now.
Hagman inherited the acting gene from his mother, Broadway musical legend Mary Martin. He'd had roles in television programs 20 years prior to "Dallas," including "I Dream of Jeannie" from 1965-70.The original strategy behind "Dallas" was to focus on the newly-married Bobby and Pam Ewing. But Hagman made his role more than the producers had intended. He quickly became the focus of the program. He never left the business. Four years ago he performed a recurring role on "Nip/Tuck," and appeared on "The Simpsons." "The Flight of the Swan," in which Hagman has a role, is awaiting release.
Duffy made a name for himself in "The Man from Atlantis" television series before being signed to play J.R.'s youngest brother on "Dallas." And he's been busy since the series ended its run. He landed a role in "Step by Step," and continued to act in television movies. Now 61, he recently ended a run on "The Bold and the Beautiful," and had a role in the movie "You Again."
Gray was already ensconced in television roles when she got her plum "Dallas" gig, as J.R.'s long-suffering alcoholic wife. After the series ended, she continued her television work, including a role on "Models, Inc." and guest appearances on episodic television. Just turned 70, Gray stars in "The Flight of the Swan" – along with Larry Hagman – which is awaiting release.
Principal, 60, had started her television acting career in the 1970s, and then she struck oil. She was cast in "Dallas" playing Bobby Ewing's wife, a character who often found herself in the middle of the two feuding families.
After she left the series in 1987, she continued her acting career, appearing in TV movies, episodic television and series, including "Titans" in 2000. She's also the founder of Principal Secret, her skincare line.
Presley, 65, was the third actress to play Jenna Wade, the childhood love of Bobby Ewing. As Jenna, she rubbed shoulders with J.R.'s formidable oil baron. But in real life Presley had already married the king – she'd tied the knot with Elvis in 1967.
As the marriage wound down, she began to explore acting. Five years into "Dallas"'s run, she joined the series for a five-year stint. After she left the show – reportedly because she was displeased with the planned direction of her character – Presley appeared in episodic television programs, such as "Melrose Place" and "Touched by an Angel." She also appeared in the highly popular "Naked Gun" movies.
However, even before her run on "Dallas," Presley had a real talent for business as a boutique owner. And as Elvis's gorgeous widow, she administered Graceland, their home, with a steely eye on the bottom line, until she passed the reins to her daughter, Lisa Marie Presley, in 1998. Post-"Dallas," in 1988, she launched an international fragrance line.
And the rest? Charlene Tilton, who played Lucy Ewing Cooper, JR and Bobby's niece, is still in the business. Ken Kercheval, who played Pam's brother, Cliff Barnes, survived lung cancer. Among the dozens of actors who contributed their talent to "Dallas," it's a sure bet that those that remain will eagerly watch the new scandal-ridden intrigues of the Ewing clan. After all, family comes first.