The "Who Shot J.R.?" episode shown in November 1980 was watched by 83 million people in the United States and over 300 million worldwide. In America, it was the highest rating for a single episode of a television series until the finale of M*A*S*H beat it in 1983.
Originally, the show was intended as a starring vehicle for Victoria Principal due to the fact that Pam would act as a buffer between the Ewings and the Barnses and J.R. would have been more of a supporting character. However, the producers were so impressed by Larry Hagman's portrayal of the immoral J.R. that he immediately was bumped up to be the show's main character.
In the mid 1980s, Linda Gray was briefly fired from Dallas after asking for a pay rise and requesting that she be given a chance to direct episodes like Larry Hagman and Patrick Duffy. However, Larry Hagman threatened to leave the show because he didn't feel they could have JR without Sue Ellen.
The house used as the "Southfork Ranch" house was an actual Texas residence called Duncan Acres, owned by Joe R. Duncan (or J.R. Duncan). When the show became popular, tourists from all over the world visited the house day and night. The Duncan family was forced to sell the house and it is now a museum devoted to the show.
When Steve Kanaly was talking about leaving the show due to his character's lack of development, it was Larry Hagman who came up with the idea to make the Ray Krebs character the illegitimate son of Jock Ewing in order to get Kanaly to stay
Spinoff show Knots Landing (1979) was actually created first, but the producers were unable to sell it. They developed Dallas instead and when that became a success, and the network asked for a spinoff, they were able to dust off the Knots Landing idea.
In May 1981, Delta Burke landed the role of Katherine Wentworth but she was forced to turn down the part because she was contractually obligated to the then-yet-to-be-picked-up series Filthy Rich (1982), which was a spoof of "Dallas".
Originally, Linda Gray's Sue Ellen really didn't have a part, so it was up to her and Larry Hagman to improvise their scenes in the background. Fortunately, Leonard Katzman and others saw their work in the dailies of the episodes and Sue Ellen's character was fleshed out.
In several of the early episodes of the series, Lucy and Ray were often portrayed as lovers. However, when it became revealed that Ray was Jock's illegitimate son, and therefore Lucy's uncle, his affair with Lucy was never mentioned again.
Producers originally planned to bring back Jock Ewing's character, but fans were against having anyone play Jock Ewing except Jim Davis. Steve Forrest appeared on the show as Wes Parmalee, claiming to be Jock Ewing, but it was revealed that he was not.
When Patrick Duffy was asked to return to the show in 1986, his wife told him that the only way it could happen is if his character had actually died in a dream. This led the producers to decide that Bobby Ewing's death (in addition to the entire 1985-86 season) was just a dream that Pam Ewing had.
Several actors including Charlene Tilton and Jim Davis were filmed firing the gun that shot J.R before it was decided who would be the shooter. The gun is on display at the real Southfork Ranch site in Dallas.
Jenilee Harrison has the distinction of playing the only character to be killed off twice. Jamie Ewing Barnes was killed off the first time in the last episode of the "Dream Season" when she was blown up in her brother's car. The second time came midway through the next season, when she was killed while rock climbing in Mexico. Though the second death didn't occur on camera.
Barbara Bel Geddes is only nine years older than Larry Hagman, though they played mother and son. Hagman is 18 years older than Patrick Duffy, who played his younger brother, though we assume them to be only a few years apart in age.
The series was a huge success in the UK where it was shown by the BBC for its entire run. However, the BBC ran into contractual problems with the show's international distributor, Worldvision, on more than one occasion. In 1981, Worldvision attempted to renege on an agreement with the BBC and raised the price tag per episode, assured in the knowledge that the BBC's main rival ITV was planning to buy the series. Litigation ensued but the matter was settled out of court and the series remained at the BBC. Then in early 1985, the problem resurfaced when the ITV company Thames Television "poached" the series by entering into a contract with Worldvision behind the BBC's back. A protracted legal battle ensued, made worse by the fact that not all stations in the ITV Network were prepared to show the series. As a countermeasure, the BBC temporarily halted transmission of the current (1984-85) season midway, as a way of sabotaging ITV's planned screening of the next season (1985-86) later that year. Although the BBC finished screening the 1984-85 season in July 1985, it took until early 1986 for the matter to be resolved. The series ultimately stayed with the BBC who began screening the next season in March 1986.
In Season 10, JR attempts to weaken OPEC's influence over the price of oil by hiring a group of mercenaries to blow up several oil fields in the Middle East. This storyline is loosely based on Texas businessman Ross Perot's mission to rescue American hostages in Iran in 1979.
Barbara Bel Geddes left the show in 1984 due to the producers not agreeing to her demands for a pay rise, and Donna Reed took her place the following season. When Bel Geddes decided to return in 1985, Reed was fired. Reed sued the producers of the show for breach of contract, who settled with her for an undisclosed sum of money. Ironically, Reed died (of cancer) in January 1986, mere months after she left the show which meant she would not have been able to continue for the duration of her contract anyway.
Several references were made during the show's run about Clayton Farlow having a past history of singing. Of course, Howard Keel, the actor who portrayed Clayton, was famous for his powerful bass-baritone singing voice.
Morgan Fairchild played Jenna Wade, Bobby's childhood sweetheart, in a 1978 episode. When Jenna was seen again for two episodes in 1980, she was played by Francine Tacker as Fairchild was busy working on her own series Flamingo Road (1980). In 1983, with Flamingo Road now canceled, the producers approached Fairchild to reprise the role but she declined feeling that she did not want to return to a small role. However, the producers decided to recast the role with Priscilla Presley and the character became a series regular for five years. Fairchild later claimed that her mother never forgave her for turning down a role in her favorite soap.
Patrick Duffy had wanted the lead role in the 1986 series Heart of the City (1986). When Robert Desiderio was given the part (with a young Christina Applegate playing his daughter), Duffy decided to return to Dallas. Heart of the City lasted only 13 episodes while Dallas remained on the air for several more seasons. Desiderio later appeared in a recurring role in the Dallas spin-off, Knots Landing (1979).
Barbara Bel Geddes was living in New York when cast for the series. Throughout the making of the series, Bel Geddes would fly home to New York and back every weekend and on other breaks to be with her family.
Barbara Bel Geddes appeared in over 250 episodes of the series. She missed the first 11 episodes of the 1983-84 season after having quadruple bypass heart surgery in March 1983. However, in 1984, she decided to leave the show altogether after producers declined her request for a payrise. She was replaced in 1984 by Donna Reed. However, following Patrick Duffy's exit in 1985, producers offered Bel Geddes a salary increase if she would return to the role. She accepted and Reed was fired, for which she promptly sued the production company. Bel Geddes returned as Miss Ellie for the 1985-86 season and stayed until the end of the 1989-90 season.
Victoria Principal claimed in interviews that she left Dallas in 1987 because she was unhappy with the show's writing and that she felt she has played the role for too long and wanted to move on. Other sources claimed that she had asked for a substantial salary increase after seeing her co-star Patrick Duffy return to the series with a huge payrise, but that she had asked for more money than the show's budget could afford to pay her.
Barbara BelGeddes (Miss Ellie) decided she needed to take some time off from the show for health reasons, and she did. Donna Reed took her place for one season. But when BelGeddes saw Donna Reed playing her part she got jealous and heartsick about leaving the show, so she asked producers if she could return, which they allowed her to. Donna Reed sued producers over the breach of contract and won, and according to family members never really got over getting fired from Dallas; she was bitter and heartsick about that till the day she died.
Cathy Podewell was picked for the role of Cally Harper Ewing, J.R.'s young "trophy wife" in the last three seasons after Larry Hagman was impressed with her performance in an episode of Growing Pains (1985).
Dack Rambo played Jack Ewing on Dallas. He was sort of the replacement for Patrick Duffy during the dream season. Rambo was gay but in the closet. Allegedly Larry Hagman was very mean and homophobic to him during this period. Rambo complained to the press about Hagman and the whole cast and crew mistreating him. Hagman replied that he had no idea Rambo was gay or HIV positive. He said he liked him till Rambo started lying to the press about him. Rambo was diagnosed with HIV in 1991 and died in 1994 at age 52.
Barbara Eden played Lee Ann De La Vega, a millionaire hellbent on revenge against JR, in a five episode story arc in the final season (1990-1991). At the end of the story arc she reveals her last name is really " Nelsion" in a nod to "I Dream if Jeannie. "
Larry Hagman admitted that his alcoholism and boredom with the routine of playing the same role for so long inclined him to drink heavily at work, consuming as much as five bottles of champagne a day. Hagman claimed that despite this his tolerance was such that he never missed a day's work or spoiled a take for being drunk.