Ken Kercheval, who played Cliff Barnes in Dallas, dies aged 83

Kercheval and Larry Hagman were only actors to appear in all 14 seasons of soap opera

Dallas star: Ken Kercheval in 2016. Photograph: Chris Delmas/AFP/Getty

Dallas star: Ken Kercheval in 2016. Photograph: Chris Delmas/AFP/Getty

 

Ken Kercheval, who played Cliff Barnes, JR Ewing’s nemesis in the US soap opera Dallas, has died. He was 83.

The actor, who died on Sunday evening in his Indiana hometown, according to the Daily Clintonian newspaper, was cast as Ewing’s rival oil baron in 1978. He had begun his career on the stage, appearing in Cabaret, Fiddler on the Roof and other Broadway productions.

Kercheval and Hagman were the only actors to appear in all 14 seasons of Dallas, appointment television that was renowned for its cliffhangers. Kercheval reprised his role in a 1996 Dallas reunion special, JR Returns, as well as a 2012 reboot of the series.

Former costars have paid tribute. “Ken Kercheval – Supremely talented, a wonderful storyteller, slyly humorous and always unpredictable,” wrote Victoria Principal, who played Pamela Barnes, Cliff’s sister. “I hope you, Larry & Barbara are throwing a Texas style heavenly party!”

Linda Gray, who played JR’s first wife, Sue Ellen, wrote: “So sad to hear about the passing of Ken Kercheval. What a special man he was. An amazing actor, a lovely friend. RIP dear Ken. What a gem!”

In typical Dallas fashion, reports of his death were initially dismissed as false. A post on Kercheval’s Facebook page read: “That J.R.’s at it again. He’s hacked the Daily Clintonian.” But a funeral home and a representative for the actor later confirmed his death. The Daily Clintonian said the Facebook page had been hacked.

The actor is survived by four children from two marriages.

Dallas rivals: Ken Kercheval with Patrick Duffy and Larry Hagman, who played Bobby and JR Ewing
Dallas rivals: Ken Kercheval with Patrick Duffy and Larry Hagman, who played Bobby and JR Ewing

Cliff Barnes: Memorable Quotes from Dallas

  • [JR Ewing had called Ray, illegitimate son of Jock Ewing, a half-breed just before finding out James Beaumont was his son] “Well, here you are talking about half-breeds and in walks one of yours.” [To Cally, JR’s second wife] “Oh, don’t be surprised, honey. I’m sure he’s knocked up at least half the women in Texas”
  • [To JR Ewing] “This time I’m not going up against you alone. I’ve got the whole cartel behind me. As a matter of fact, I’ve got every independent oilman in Texas on my side. You’re alone. You’ve got nobody. You’ve got nothing except your ocean of oil… to drown in”
  • “You know, I’ve spent a lifetime fighting corruption. Mostly the Ewings. And mostly I’ve been beaten. They’re a symbol of everything that’s wrong”
  • [To the oil magnate Marilee Stone, with whom he had a fling] “I hope you can live on the memory for a while, because that, Marilee, was the last time that we will ever be partners in any endeavour, professional or personal. I don’t need your money. I won’t miss your body. I hate to be double-crossed, and I don’t forgive and I don’t forget”
  • “You know what ? It seems that everything in my life has something or other to do with JR”
  • “You just don’t seem to understand something. This is a way to avenge our daddy. They cheated old Digger Barnes and they laughed. Jock Ewing treated him like dirt, just like his son JR treats me like dirt, and now it’s my turn. There is no price that you could put on that”
  • “I’m probably a prime suspect in this case. I certainly had enough motive, and if anybody deserves shooting it’s JR”
  • [Gloating to JR Ewing in a restaurant] “You see, you tried to do to me what Jock did to Digger. But I don’t know, maybe I’m just stronger, maybe I’m smarter, or maybe I’m just luckier. Maybe I’m all three. Anyway, this time the Barnes beat the hell out of the Ewing”
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