At its peak, 'Dallas' was "an international sensation." In the United States, 'Dallas' was the highest-rated entertainment series on television, attracting "massive audience spans geography, social status and income." By 1981, some 35 American companies and 15 British companies were licensed to sell 'Dallas' accessories such as posters, T-shirts, buttons, beer, puzzles, games, bumper stickers, watches, joke books, calendars.
At the Maryland Institute, College of Art in July 1989 to accept an award, creator David Jacobs spoke to the 'Dallas Morning News', "'Dallas' was the first true worldwide television mega-hit. I haven't the faintest idea why it was such a phenomenon, but I was certainly glad to be along for the ride. If the truth be told, I don't think 'Dallas' was ever very good drama. Yet it obviously was the right show for a specific time and captured the imaginations of a great many Americans and people everywhere. Why? I've never found out."
Linda Gray concurred, "It could be a much better show than it is. I don't think anyone in the cast is being used to their potential. But I'm happy to be involved because it's been a great vehicle for me. They've let me take the part and run with it." John Homlish, a teacher, spoke to Associated Press, "The Ewing family is a kind of mirror of that retreat into privacy. The Ewings have all the problems of society – alcohol, infertility, etc. And they handle all their problems within the family. Characters on soap operas tend to handle their problems in a very whiny sort of way. In 'Dallas', they just say, 'Dammit, you're an alcoholic and we're going to handle it.' Then they go at it. Nobody ever looks shocked, they just handle it. They're a tough old crowd."
Speaking to the 'Pittsburgh Post-Gazette', Patrick Duffy theorized, "'Dallas' is not a show of foreign intrigue. It could take place for the next 50 years within the state of Texas. People want to see the family sit down at the dinner table, smiling, and know that everyone really wants to rip each other's guts out. Of all the soaps on the air, 'Dallas' is the only one that operates with a great sense of humor."
Leonard Katzman observed, "There are college kids – 18, 19 years old – who can't remember a time before 'Dallas'." In 1986, 'Dallas' made the headlines on all tabloids with the resurrection of Bobby Ewing. As reported, "Not since the glorious summer of 'Who Shot J.R.?' in 1980 which has created worldwide attention, has 'Dallas' been all the rage at supermarket checkout counters."
The resurrection of Bobby Ewing according to Patrick Duffy "is either going to be a huge stretch for the audience or they are going to say, 'Ha, ha, you must be kidding.' I heard one rumor, which scares me to death, that me being in the shower was the dream." Leonard Katzman offered at the time, "I'm not quite sure if anything will ever be quite as big as 'Who Shot J.R.?' but I do believe the return of Patrick will cause a tremendous amount of discussion and interest. As for the ratings, I don't think anybody's going to beat 'Cosby', but I think this (the dream season resolution) will get us a huge tune-in. After that, it's up to us to give people the 'Dallas' they had come to know and love and keep them there. We expect this to have an impact similar to 'Who Shot J.R.?'"
On 'Dallas', Linda Gray played Sue Ellen Ewing. Speaking to the press in 1981, Linda Gray shared her story. Born in 1940, "I went to a Catholic all-girls school across the street from MGM. There was nothing to do after school, so we'd go to the studio and collect autographs. It was hard for me because I was the ugliest kid one could ever imagine. I was 5 feet 7 inches in 6th grade, which is gigantic.
"I had a beanpole figure consisting of long, black, stringy hair, big eyes and buck teeth which made it difficult for me to close my mouth. I was tormented all through school. I was a wreck of a person. When I went to dances I had to wear ballet shoes – even then I was looking down on all the boys. Then I started eating a lot in high school and became fat. Soon I had braces on my teeth and a faceful of acne.
"My parents became worried because I was so shy, always sweating and afraid to look men in the eyes. Somehow my body formed into the frame of a young woman and, unbelievably, I became 'homecoming queen' during my senior year. The first day I was in college I discovered my French professor staring at my legs during roll call. I remember smiling to myself and thinking, 'Aha, this is a little different from stern-faced nuns bearing hard-hitting rulers.' At that point men became an important part of my life."
At age 18 in 1958, Linda Gray became aware of "strange guys coming after me. From my experiences with men, I've found there is a certain vibe you put out. I have a lot of confidence and self-esteem. I don't enclose myself. I'm very open and very vulnerable. Some women can walk into a room and you know exactly what they want. Men then manoeuvre to get what they want from those women. I have a nice way of saying no without offending anybody.
"I don't put men down unless they're offensive. A lady does not have to tolerate discourtesy just because a man isn't a gentleman. When I grew up, young ladies were not encouraged to speak their minds. My parents thought an actress was one step below being a hooker. One day I realized I was one of society's puppets. I had spent my entire youth trying to be perfect in everybody's eyes, always attempting to do what society thought was right."
In 1962, Linda Gray, then 21, married Ed Thrasher. In the years following, "I was super mum and super wife. Inside I was dying. One night I told my husband my life wasn't fulfilling. I was not doing anything creative. He suggested I pursue an acting career once the children were in college. That made me furious." It was understood Linda Gray started drinking, "I wasn't happy about it but it was a release. I had to do something and I didn't know what. My psychiatrist said it was like pouring water into a cup that was already over-flowing. I developed hypoglycaemia. When I started going to therapy, I was truly a wreck."
Linda Gray spent a year with a woman therapist before she joined group therapy. Linda Gray continued, "Ed joined my group sessions. At first he thought he was going to be my savior. He thought the only reason he needed to attend was to save his wife from going overboard. It turned out he was responsible for a lot of my problems. We really worked very hard as a couple to pull it all together. Ed had to realize I needed freedom to pursue my career.
"When he wanted us to move to a ranch far from Hollywood, I was very upset. Even though I fought the move at every opportunity, he knew how important it was for me to have a retreat. We designed and built our own house. I had a hard time seeing the plans on paper as my future home. I was still in therapy at the time. I'd come and see painters painting the walls a color I didn't like I'd go into a fit and dismiss the painters while Ed and I had a fight, I felt totally uncreative. At this point my life could have been the screenplay for 'Diary Of A Mad Housewife'."
Linda Gray said the group therapy provided answers to some of her questions. In 1983, Linda Gray, then 43 and Ed Thrasher shocked "even cynical Hollywood" when they announced their marriage was coming to an end. Speaking to the press at the time, Linda Gray expressed, "I was the only 21-year-old virgin married that year. I was my own worst enemy then. Nobody told me I couldn't be an actress and a wife, but it was a tough transition for me to make. I had been a model and I did commercials and I had two children.
"I used to be superwoman – a wife, mommy, housewife and dogwasher, and I thought that was terrific. Then I thought there's more – a lot more. I realized it was time to take care of me. I was in my early 30s before I became an actress. You're supposed to be finished at that age (in those days), not starting. All the women I admire – Georgia O’Keeffe, Katharine Hepburn – never let anyone dictate their lifestyle. I hope I can pass that on, too, so women won't say I'm 30, I'm 35, I can’t do this.
"I was born practically next door to the MGM studios and I always wanted to act. But my parents were strict Catholics and were strongly opposed to the idea. They did all they could to discourage me from joining what they thought was an evil profession. I'm learning that unless I take care of myself I am no good to anybody. You have to be very strong in your marriage – and I was.
"Strong enough to know that two people were not going to grow at the same level all the time. One may grow faster than the other at one time and then the reverse. People are no longer accepting the dictates of society, but are following their own feelings. I'd advise any married woman to fulfil whatever she believes to be her destiny." In 1982 hairstylist José Eber had chosen for Linda Gray a "carefree, short style."
'Dallas' was regarded a TV trailblazer. On television, 'Dallas' began a revolution which saw sex on TV. The depiction of lust, passion and adultery, Audrey Landers remarked, "Most of the risque matetial is more hinted at than shown and I love it because it makes it more of a challenge. You have to make it sexy without showing too much. A touch of mystery always makes the sexy scenes appear even more so, and that's what 'Dallas' is best at. They lead you right up to the moment, they paint the scene and they let your imagination fill in the rest. But it doesn't take too much to know what is going on."
One 'Dallas' insider made the point, "The times are changing, and there is no question that 'Dallas' has been responsible fo the new wave of raunchy shows. 'Dallas' has always been the sexual vanguard and there is no way the producers are going to be content to just keep pace with the other soaps." At the time, a 'Dallas' spokesman insisted, "Looking to the future I am only going to say there are moments of implicit sex in some scripts and scenes of implicit sex in others."
Audrey Landers continued, "My scene with J.R. is very sweet and sexy. It was fun to do. I definitely think sex is a big attraction for 'Dallas' viewers, but it's not done cheaply. Everyone loves 'Dallas' because it is bigger than life, so the sexual escapades have to be bigger too." It was reported Ed Thrasher initially felt awkward watching Linda Gray on-screen performing love scenes.
Linda Gray recounted, "The first time we were sitting on a couch and Ed saw me kissing somebody on screen, he didn't like it one bit. But to me doing a love scene on screen is very unromantic, because there are umpteen crew members watching you, hoping that you'll finish quickly so they can go home. I told Ed that he shouldn't be jealous. Anyway, he is a photographer and takes pictures of nudes, which doesn't upset me. If we don't trust each other, we shouldn't be married. Fortunately, I believe Ed and I now have a firm idea of what makes us happy."
Leigh McCloskey described one scene with Charlene Tilton, "I was supposed to be studying hard and engrossed in my books, when all of a sudden I look up and there she is in her birthday suit. The camera shows her dropping her clothes to the floor and then turning to face me. I had to keep my eyes riveted to hers, otherwise we would have been in trouble with the censors. The scene was a lot of fun to do even though there were about 80 guys on the set wolf-whistling. Sexy scenes might look passionate but they are not like real life, not like the passion you have for your husband or wife or lover. In fact, I sometimes super-impose the face of my wife because it adds great reality to the scene."