THE REASON I'M STILL SINGLE? JR Vetted All My Boyfriends and Didn't like Any of them!Since Day One on Pilot Episode Digger's Daughter, Linda Gray Has Been Part of the Dallas Epic. She Recalls Co-Star Larry Hagman and How, at 74, She Still Looks as Good as in Her Sue Ellen Heyday. by Jenny Johnston

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), December 7, 2014 | Go to article overview

THE REASON I'M STILL SINGLE? JR Vetted All My Boyfriends and Didn't like Any of them!Since Day One on Pilot Episode Digger's Daughter, Linda Gray Has Been Part of the Dallas Epic. She Recalls Co-Star Larry Hagman and How, at 74, She Still Looks as Good as in Her Sue Ellen Heyday. by Jenny Johnston


Byline: Jenny Johnston

How fitting that their last ever real-life conversation, in November 2012, could have been lifted straight out of a Dallas script. It was emotional, dramatic - and characteristically confrontational. It was actually a deathbed scene too, although neither Linda Gray nor Larry Hagman, her friend and co-star, knew this at the time.

'Larry was in hospital and Patrick Duffy [who played Bobby Ewing in the famous TV show] and I went to see him. The three of us were great friends. We were like a little unit. We walked in the room and Larry said, "They've given me two weeks." I said, "Bulls***" - very ladylike, I know, but I did. I couldn't believe it. I said, "We're filming on Monday. We have a scene together. And you've just bought a new car, a Tesla, and you promised me a ride in it. You have to get out of this hospital now." Larry laughed - I always did tell him what to do - and then we spent two hours chatting and giggling.'

She says she genuinely did not believe that Hagman - for ever JR Ewing in our hearts - was dying because, even to those closest to him, he was one of life's great survivors. Some 17 years previously, when he last seemed to be on the way out, he'd undergone a liver transplant - a legacy of his heavydrinking lifestyle.

But on that November day two years ago he was, she says, if not in rude health then certainly 'on top of the world'. Dallas, the show that had made them household names around the globe - Linda will eternally be Sue Ellen to his JR - had recently been revived, 21 years after the original ended, and a second series had just been commissioned. Hagman could not have been happier reprising 'the role he was put on Earth for', she says. 'He'd been so chuffed to be back playing JR. It meant everything to him, and we were having a blast. We'd slotted back into our parts like we'd never been away.' was ' That's why it was such a shock to get the call saying Larry was in hospital. 'But we still didn't think the worst,' Linda recalls. 'I remember when we went to see him he was sitting up in bed with a baseball cap on - Larry loved his hats - and he looked so cute. He hadn't looked great on film but that day he looked fabulous. He was on good form too. When we left, I remember saying to Patrick, "He's so amazing. Larry's like the cat with not nine lives, but 12. He's just going to go on and on."' She pauses and her eyes fill up. 'The next morning I got the call...'older - a badbrother'

Hagman died the following day and Linda was inconsolable. She still is. 'He was a true friend, and such a big part of my life,' she admits. 'He was family, basically. I think he and his wife thought I was their teenage daughter. He was like a dad to me, or maybe more an older brother - a bad-boy older brother.' She jokes about how she's probably single today because of Hagman. When she went through a painful divorce back in their Dallas heyday, it was Hagman who pulled her through. She didn't tell anyone on the set what she was going through at first, but when he found out she was renting a property in his neighbourhood in Malibu, having moved out of her family home, he turned up uninvited.

'That was Larry all over. I remember opening the door and he was there on the doorstep, in a hat, bottle of champagne in one hand and one of those bottles of bubbles - those kids' toys you blow through - in the other. He blew bubbles into the air, then made me get on his Vespa scooter and gave me a tour of the neighbourhood. He showed me the market, the dry cleaners, everything.' Later, he made it his business to vet her boyfriends. 'None of them was ever good enough,' she says, crying with laughter. 'He'd meet them all and say, "No, get rid," and I'd say, "But Larry, I like this one, he's nice," and Larry would say, "I don't care, get rid." Patrick Duffy used to joke that I'd never find anyone he approved of. I got to the point where if I genuinely did like someone, I'd try not to let them meet Larry. …

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THE REASON I'M STILL SINGLE? JR Vetted All My Boyfriends and Didn't like Any of them!Since Day One on Pilot Episode Digger's Daughter, Linda Gray Has Been Part of the Dallas Epic. She Recalls Co-Star Larry Hagman and How, at 74, She Still Looks as Good as in Her Sue Ellen Heyday. by Jenny Johnston
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