This weekend I had the good fortunate of celebrating the 40th anniversary of the TV show DALLAS at Southfork Ranch and meet four of the stars: Patrick Duffy, Linda Gray, Steve Kanaly, and Charlene Tilton. What a thrill! I adored the reboot on TNT starring Josh Henderson and Jesse Metcalf and loved the original series, which I went back and watched after being exposed to the reboot. Let me tell you: they do not make men like Bobby Ewing any more! I took my die-hard Dallas loving friend Candy with me to the two-day celebration presented by Visit Dallas and Southfork Ranch. Buckle up because this is the most Dallas thing I’ve ever done.
Touring Southfork Ranch
Bourbon and horses: my perfect Friday. Southfork Ranch is a dreamy equestrian property that hails itself as “the world’s most famous ranch.” Once a privately owned property, Southfork is now a popular tourist attraction and wedding venue. You can tour the property and even go on a trail ride! Now that I’ve seen Southfork for myself, I can tell you that it’s really a must for out of town visitors.* Walking around the property, we found paint horses, miniature horses, longhorns, a small cemetery, Elena’s house, a lovely tree-lined driveway, and several barns.
*Technically my high school prom was at Southfork but we only saw the driveway and the inside of the ballroom. I had never been around the property or inside the house before.
The house itself is like walking onto a film set. There’s the iconic green dining room, the room where JR Ewing was shot, character bedrooms, and the infamous pool. How many characters I wonder were pushed into that pool? Part of the appeal of Dallas for me was the property. I just loved the breakfast patio scenes and pool scenes where you can see horses in the distance. In person, Southfork does not disappoint. It looks exactly like it does in the TV show.
Watch my live tour of Southfork here:
Visit Southfork for yourself here.
Meeting the Stars of Dallas, Part One
I would love to report how graceful my meeting of the stars went and how I was able to tell Patrick Duffy how much I love Bobby Ewing but unfortunately, I totally choked. Candy and I had chosen to tour the farm first and thought the line would die down. It did not. We waited in line for two hours and by the time we got close to the stars, the crowd was told to move it along so that everyone would have a chance to get a photo. I had rehearsed again and again what I was going to say.
I stepped up to the photo booth and Linda Gray said, “Oh wow!” I was so taken aback. At first I thought, maybe she recognizes me! After all I had posted several times about the event and she commented on one of my posts on The Rose Table’s Facebook page. Then I thought, For Pete’s sake, Watson! You can’t assume Linda Gray – LINDA GRAY – knows who you are! Maybe the oh wow was referring to my dress? Maybe she just said that to everyone when they walked up because she’s clearly a lovely person. Either way my brain went completely blank. So I did what any Texas woman would do: I stepped up to the photo booth and grinned for a picture without saying a word. Not a word!
Here is photographic evidence of me not saying a word to the beloved stars of Dallas. Face palm. It all happened so fast. Snap, snap, next! I took a step off the photo booth and Patrick Duffy grabbed my shoulder and said hello because he too appears to be a lovely person. And what did I do? I smiled and walked away. Double face palm.
Meeting the Stars of Dallas, Part Two
Thankfully I had the opportunity to redeem myself. My mom was guffawing when she heard how badly I choked. “You, speechless? I can’t even picture it!” she said when I called on my way back home. Night two was my chance! Saturday night’s event was not held at Southfork but rather the Longhorn Ballroom in Dallas. After an hour and a half in line, we could see the stars just ahead signing memorabilia. I stepped up to Steve Kanaly first and handed him my event tickets to sign. “How do you like being back in Dallas?” I asked him, proud of myself for squeaking out a sentence. “It looks different,” he said.
I stepped up to Charlene Tilton. “Your makeup looks stunning!” she exclaimed. I officially love Charlene Tilton. Way to make a girl’s day! She happily signed my ticket and passed it to Patrick Duffy.
Okay self, I thought, don’t you dare choke! You know that scene in A Christmas Story where Ralphie is finally able to tell Santa what he wants for Christmas in one breath, speaking so quickly that you can barely understands what he says? That was me at this moment. Read this four times faster than you ought to: “I was too star struck to tell you yesterday but Bobby Ewing is one of my favorite TV characters of all time and they just don’t make men like Bobby Ewing any more!” He grinned from ear to ear.
I think I said something to Linda Gray about how excited I was to see them in Dallas and how I was too shy to tell her that yesterday. She seems like such a sweetheart. There’s just something about Linda Gray that just makes you want to go to brunch with her.
Q&A with the Stars
We were on a high after the signature line. Candy proudly showed me her bottle of JR Bourbon, which was now decorated with four signatures. Linda Gray’s was front and center, right under JR’s name. What a treasure! We walked around and sampled the food while a band played on the stage. I didn’t catch who the caterer was but the food was quite delicious and very Texan: fried chicken and mashed potatoes, crab cakes with bacon lardons, tacos, and tiny enchiladas.
Many of the weekend attendees it turned out were not only from out of state, but also from across the pond! There were Dallas fans from Ireland, Britain, France, Hungary, Germany, Canada, and tons of other locations. The event was a thrill for someone who’s lived in Dallas her whole live. I can only imagine how thrilling it was for people who traveled so far!
Watch part of the Q&A here:
After dinner, the stars moved to the stage for a Q&A session about their favorite scenes, memories of filming, and other heartwarming anecdote. Most notably Patrick Duffy gave an impassioned speech about how Dallas fans around the globe were able to get the show back on the air once and we can do it again. All four were game to do another reboot. Let’s make it happen! Write letters, tweet networks, and bring Dallas back to finish the story that TNT started to tell about the new generation of Southfork. After all, that theme song will never go out of style.
Happy 40th, Dallas!