Fans finally meet cast at 'Dallas' reunion

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by By MARK NORRIS / The Dallas Morning News norrism@dallasnews.com

wfaa.com

Posted on August 15, 2009 at 4:44 PM

Updated Friday, Oct 16 at 2:00 PM

It got bigger and bigger - like the ratings, like Big D itself. Thousands of fans descended on Southfork Ranch on Saturday evening to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the TV show Dallas.

TIM GRUBER/DMN
Larry Hagman (in J.R. Ewing's signature hat), Patrick Duffy (center) and other Dallas cast members address the thousands of fans who appeared for the 30th anniversary reunion Saturday at Southfork Ranch in Parker to celebrate the television show.

The front and back lawn of the fictional Ewing family home in Parker played host to a massive barbecue cookout filled with people from the Dallas area, across the U.S. and even around the world.

"I don't understand it," Ken Kercheval, who played Cliff Barnes, said on the red carpet in front of the iconic house. "The staying power. Who knew?"

The cookout, which continued to grow in size and number of cast members attending since it was announced in August, was for the fans of the show, such as Sudesh Sharma. Originally from India, the 67-year-old woman moved to Mesquite just before the show debuted on CBS in 1978.

Mrs. Sharma brought a painting of Jock Ewing and got cast members who were there to sign it before taking a picture with all of them during a $1,000-per-ticket VIP event earlier in the afternoon.

"It's them who made the city of Dallas famous around the world," Mrs. Sharma said.

It's a city that has changed much since the show's debut. Steve Kanaly, who played ranch hand Ray Krebbs, said it was hard to recognize the city's skyline with all the construction occurring around downtown.

Susan Howard, who was Ray's wife Donna, was humbled by the response of fans.

"I'm kind of saddened that I don't have enough time to meet with people who traveled from all over the world," she said.

Catriona and Harry Lynch traveled from the midlands of Ireland for the barbecue. They flew from Dublin to Chicago to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and arrived late Friday night, and planned to be back on a plane today.

Ms. Lynch said she knew "straightaway" she had to be here when the event was announced. Her husband admits their friends give them grief over liking the show so much and teased them when they said they were coming.

"Some said we were crazy," Mr. Lynch said.

Pat McGuire, a 65-year-old from the Dallas area, showed up with a yellowing, crumpled piece of paper that had Patrick Duffy's autograph from 1978. She wanted to get him to sign it again 30 years later - and wound up getting her wish.

"I got it, I got it," she said, her face beaming with excitement.

Originally, only Larry Hagman, Linda Gray and Mr. Duffy were to appear. But more cast members were added to the roster, including Charlene Tilton, Audrey Landers and Mary Crosby.

But the unquestioned star of the event was J.R. Ewing himself, Mr. Hagman.

He was the last one down the red carpet and was hurried past the fans and media while surrounded by a rock star-size security team. Would he ever have expected something like this when the show debuted 30 years ago?

"No," mouthed Mr. Hagman as he disappeared into the front door of the house.

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