In 1978, Dallas premiered, and it would go on to be one of TV’s longest-running dramas. With an ensemble cast that included Patrick Duffy, Barbara Bel Geddes, Victoria Principal, and Jim Davis, the series lasted for 14 seasons before coming to an end in 1992. As the show began, fans were introduced to the Ewing family, the wealthy owners of a lucrative oil company. The family’s eldest son, J.R. (Larry Hagman), was married to Sue Ellen Ewing, who was played by Linda Gray. She remained on the show for 12 seasons.
Before Gray left, however, Sue Ellen became the CEO of Ewing Oil, making her a very powerful character. And she wasn’t killed off, making it possible for Gray to reprise the role decades later. The actor is now 81; read on to find out what she’s been doing since the show and why she wanted to be a part of the reboot.
In 2012, a new continuation of Dallas premiered on TNT, and Gray was a part of it. In fact, she told Broadway World that accepting the offer was a no-brainer.
“When they asked us to come back, it was as if [Sue Ellen] had kind of been hanging out for 20 years,” she said. “And everything fell right into place. I think when you do something for so long, it’s kind of embedded in your DNA at that point, and you just sort of step into it.”
Her onscreen ex, Hagman, was another actor who came on board for the revival. Sadly, he passed away in November 2012, after filming a season and a half. The character was also laid to rest, and filming J.R.’s funeral wasn’t easy on Gray or the rest of his long-time co-stars.
“It was hard for all of us because we’d all been working with Larry. And we knew he was frail. We knew. And Patrick [Duffy] and I knew more than most. So that was hard,” she told the outlet. “The writers and producers were great. They were so sensitive and they listened to us about how it would be. I mean, it couldn’t have been more lovely.”
Gray served as a U.S. Goodwill Ambassador from 1997 to 2011 and has also partnered with organizations including Meals on Wheels and Nourish the Children in Malawi, where she helped distribute food in villages.
“There is something that changes in you when you hand someone a package,” Gray told Life Stories Productions. “That you know that they don’t have any food, and they’re going to have food for a month with this little package that costs Americans maybe $22.”
Gray continues to champion organizations she believes in, including Baby2Baby, which helps provide children in need with essentials like food and diapers.
Since the Dallas revival ended in 2014, Gray has appeared in TV series including Hilton Head Island and Hollyoaks, along with taking on roles in movies including Intuitions and Grand-Daddy Daycare. When she’s not acting on camera, she’s performing on stage. In the early ’00s, for example, Gray played Mrs. Robinson in The Graduate on the West End in London, later filling in for Kathleen Turner in the role on Broadway.
Playing Mrs. Robinson was a bit of a full circle moment for Gray, too—her legs were actually the ones photographed and famously featured on the poster for the movie.
“I think she was absent that day,” she explained on Anderson Live in 2013. “I got paid $25. For one leg, that was good.”
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Gray was married to photographer and artist Ed Thrasher from 1962 to 1983 and they had two children: Kehly, 55, and Jeff, who passed away in 2020 at 56 years old after battling leukemia.
“He was the kindest, funniest, sweetest human being… he brought the world such love and was loved by everyone! May his journey be a magical one,” she wrote on Instagram when she shared the sad news with her fans.
The actor is also a grandmother of two and has posted proudly about her grandchildren on social media.