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Dallas Cast Reunion Leaves Fans Southforked

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Ewing Oil was HQ'd out of the Renaissance Tower at 1201 Elm St. In case you were wondering.

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Meanwhile, back on the ranch ...

A little after 6 p.m., an hour after the Dallas reunion was scheduled to start but well past the time folks had started to stream in, Larry Hagman's being held captive in a helicopter. Seems some rich folks paid extra-big bucks to ride in Ross Perot Jr.'s helicopter with J.R., and, he was only too happy to oblige. Only, that last trip, out of three, was a bit cramped—dudes were big. He emerges from the 'copter looking a little flustered. Hagman tells his wife of 54 years, the Swedish-born Maj, he couldn't breathe up there.

The field, off to the side of the mansion, is fenced off and empty, save for the helicopter and a few hangers-on. Steve Kanaly's nursing a Shiner and killing time. Standing next to him is Susan Howard, who was appointed in the late 1990s to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission by then-Governor George Bush—and who, trivia alert, holds the distinction of having played the first female Klingon on the original Star Trek.

"Is there any way we can get back to the fans?" Kanaly asks Paul Salfen, editor-in-chief of Envy magazine and Hagman's minder for the evening. They're acquaintances, but Hagman, who refuses bodyguards, relies on Salfen through the night, as folks paw at him from every direction. Salfen spies an empty limousine idling in the field and tells Kanaly and Howard to take it. They're grateful—though it takes the driver 15 minutes to navigate a route to the red carpet, which they could have walked in, oh, 45 seconds.

Howard looks out the car window and spies in the distance the crush of people lining the red carpet. From this distance, it looks like a throbbing vein. She's astounded at the sight—touched too.

"The magnitude of the miles these people flew—from Romania and Ireland and Pakistan," she says, clutching her chest. "And they're just here for a couple of days, and you're going, 'Oh, my gosh, after all this time.' It was such a ..."

"...part of their lives," Kanaly chimes in. The actors who played Ray and Donna Krebbs actually seem like they could be married in real life. "It was a very personal thing for everybody. And now, if they could manage to buy a ticket and actually be here, they're part of the history of this show in a very real way. And, ya know, this show did not have the kind of popular support among industry people..."

"The industry has such a snobbish attitude," Howard says. "Barbara Bel Geddes, Miss Ellie, was the only one nominated for an Emmy? Give a break. OK? My lord, Larry Hagman? Please. It didn't come out of Hollywood, so it wasn't considered worthy of acclaim."

You know, they're told, some folks think Dallas ended the Cold War.

Both laugh hysterically.

"Well," Howard says, "I wouldn't go that far."

"There were countries where changes occurred that were coincidental, like Israel and South Africa," Kanaly says. "In those places, television, especially American television, was just such a fresh and new thing. And suddenly, you're down in South Africa getting a show called Dallas with all this wealth and opulence..."

"Remember when we were in Israel?" Howard asks her TV husband. "Menachem Begin loved it. But he had to watch it on Jordanian television. We went to his home for his birthday. I have his book he signed for me. He kept saying to Steve and me, 'You are the good ones.'"

They both crack up.

"We'd run down the beach in Tel Aviv, and people would run after you and tell you how much they loved you," Howard recalls. "And you have to realize its impact and that it's a responsibility. You don't get something for nothing. It becomes a deep responsibility. It's like tonight. I feel a deep sense of responsibility for these people who have come all this way after all this time, and I feel almost overwhelmed by it, because there's no way I could spend enough time with them, which they deserve. There's no way to give them the honor they deserve, which sounds stupid, but it's the truth. If somebody cares that much and spends that much money. You should see their faces. My Lord in heaven. They're dumbstruck."

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky