BY JANET STEINBERG
Part 3 of a Series
Life in the fast lane!
That is the vicarious life that millions of people around the world lived as they sat glued to their televisions for 13 years watching “Dallas”, the prime time soap opera saga of The Ewing family and its giant oil empire.
And, if you promise not to tell anyone, I’ll let you in on a little secret. Southfork Ranch, the Dallas home of television’s legendary Ewing family is not in Dallas, Texas. Built in 1970, Southfork Ranch is actually in Parker, Texas. But little does geography matter to the millions of “Dallas” fans who faithfully watched the show year after year. To them, and to me, Southfork Ranch will always be in Dallas.
FORGET GEOGRAPHY...TO “DALLAS” FANS, SOUTHFORK WILL ALWAYS BE IN DALLAS
And, little does it matter to diehard Texans that real estate barons, who are swallowing up ranch after ranch for financial gain, would like to get their hands on that property. To those dyed-in-the-wool Texans, “Southfork Ranch stands as a defiant dinosaur, daring any would-be attacker…it is the symbol of a proud people fiercely protecting their rich cultural history.”
Having passed through the iconic Southfork gate, we were directed to the Ranch Round-up Visitor Center. “Ties, lies and commitments”. ..so screamed the Ewing Family Tree painted across an entire wall in the small museum. The museum’s “Dallas Legends” exhibit allowed fans to re-live scenes from the show, enjoy videos of actual filming at Southfork, and see the actual prop gun that shot J.R.
THE ICONIC SOUTHFORK RANCH GATE
Departing the museum we drove around International Drive where the flags, of the 96 countries in which “Dallas “ was aired, are displayed. Continuing our drive through the ranch grounds we saw longhorns, llamas, horses, old barns, paddocks, shelters, and the original rodeo arena utilized in filming of the rodeos.
|LONGHORN NAP TIME AT SOUTHFORK|
An iron fence enclosed a small mock graveyard with actual tombstones memorializing “Miss Ellie”, Jock Ewing, and J.R. Ewing. Inscribed on J. R’s tombstone, along with a cowboy hat and the fictional date of his birth and death (1939-2013), were the words: “The Only Deal He Ever Lost”.
THE ONLY DEAL J.R. EWING EVER LOST
Just before reaching the Ewing mansion, is Miss Ellie’s Porch Deli. A handwritten blackboard displays a sandwich menu, black and white checkered cloths cover a few small tables, memorabilia hangs on the walls, and Texas products fill shelves and barrels in this makeshift gift shop.
And then, there it is…the Ewing mansion.
“Howdy, y’all. Welcome to South Fork Ranch.” Greeted by a lovely Texan tour guide, we were ushered through the back porch door into a simple “mud room” where the only piece of furniture was a double horsehead bench, hand carved from mesquite wood. This would be the entry room from the pool and garden.
|HAND-CARVED MESQUITE WOOD BENCH|
The front entry hall, that welcomed Ewing guests to their trademark home, is replete with a rich oak staircase, mahogany furnishings and a Waterford crystal chandelier. It adjoins the Lone Star Powder Room.
WATERFORD CHANDELIER ILLUMINATES ENTRY HALL
The formal Chippendale-furnished Ewing Dining Room is resplendent in rich hues of blue and burgundy. A $15,000 pair of Waterford crystal chandeliers casts a warm glow on the mahogany table set with sparkling crystal, china, and gold and silver flatware.
RESPLENDENT DINING ROOM
Across from the dining room is Miss Ellie’s Kitchen. Overlooking the patio and pool, this cheery room is wallpapered in burgundy ivy vines with windows framed by burgundy grapevine cornices. You can almost feel the warmth of Miss Ellie as she comforts members of her dysfunctional family.
|MISS ELLIE’S COMFY, COZY KITCHEN|
Jock Ewing’s Living Room exudes the elaborate Ewing lifestyle at Southfork. The patriarch’s portrait hangs prominently above a limestone fireplace, seemingly still surveying the goings-on at Southfork. Rich tapestry covered sofas, hand-carved mahogany furniture and a baby grand piano add to the elegance of the room.
|GRAND LIVING ROOM OF EWING MANSION|
The bedrooms personify the characters that slept in them. J.R.’s Master Bedroom and Bath Suite is opulent and dramatic. From the center of the canopied sleigh bed, that is perched on a lighted platform, cascades of blue brocade fall to the floor. The extravagant million-dollar marble bathroom, with its 14-karat gold fixtures, paints the picture of Texas elegance and arrogant wealth.
|J.R.’S CANOPIED SLEIGH BED|
Bobby’s red, white and blue All-American room reflects the rugged feeling of the ranch he so adored. The headboard of his bed is crafted from moose antlers, iron horse heads and the brand of the rustic Southfork Ranch.
For “Season Two” of “Dallas” 2.0, Miss Ellie’s bedroom was repositioned into Room 22 at the Colon Hotel where J.R. was shot. Lucy’s Yellow Rose of Texas Suite is bright, sunny, ruffled and feminine like Lucy…the girl who literally grew up on the show. An 80-year old fan of the original TV series, hand-quilted the coverlet on Lucy’s bed.
LUCY’S YELLOW ROSE OF TEXAS BEDROOM
The mansion’s wet bar conjured up memories of a cruise I took some 30 years ago. On the ship, I was one of a group of journalists writing about the production of a “Love Boat” TV episode that was being filmed on the ship. At a ship party, I met Jared Martin, an actor in the “Love Boat” show that was being filmed. In his previous role on “Dallas”, Jared had played the role of “Dusty” Farlow, the handsome hunk of a cowboy with whom Sue Ellen Ewing had a brief “Dallas” fling. Although Jared was filming “Love Boat” at the time, we still toasted “Dusty”.
30-YEARS AGO…JANET STEINBERG AND ACTOR JARED MARTIN TOASTED HIS “DUSTY” FROM "DALLAS
Three decades later, Google has informed me that the real live Jared/Dusty is now producing and directing films. However, much to my dismay, some 30-years later at Southfork’s wet bar, I could only toast a life-sized, cardboard cutout of the late J. R. Ewing.
|30-YEARS LATER…JANET STEINBERG TOASTED A CARDBOARD CUTOUT OF J.R. EWING FROM “DALLAS”|
Such is life in the slow lane.
JANET STEINBERG is an award-winning Travel Writer/Editor and International Travel Consultant with THE TRAVEL AUTHORITY in Mariemont, Ohio