When I was a kid, it was a thrill anytime my parents let me stay up on Friday nights to watch Dallas. This was back in the days before VCRs, DVDs, and being able to DV-R anything. If you wanted to watch Dallas, you had to be parked in front of your TV when it started. And that’s exactly what millions of Americans did.
The theme began to play and we saw the sweeping aerial view of Southfork Ranch. It was awesome. So, that’s what Texas oil money life is like, I thought to myself. It seemed so grand. So unattainable for a young girl like me in the suburbs of Ohio.
With that childhood memory in mind, I couldn’t resist seeing Southfork Ranch while I was in Dallas. Actually, I was surprised to learn that it really existed. I think I’d always figured that the ranch was just a fabricated movie set in Hollywood, but no. The ranch used for the show really exists.
Back in 1978 when the show began, the ranch was owned by the Duncan family who agreed to let Lorimar use the exterior of the house. All of the family meals out on the porch with Miss Ellie, and the shots of the pool and the exterior of the house were filmed on location at the Duncan’s ranch in Parker County, Texas, just outside Dallas. I recognized the porch and the pool, but was surprised to see how small they looked in real-life. In fact, the whole house looked small now that we’ve gotten used to the McMansions built up in every sprawling suburb in America. This was not the overwhelmingly magnificent ranch I’d envsioned as a girl.
But still. With the theme song playing in the background, our tour guide told us behind-the-scene stories of filming that occured there. She told us about some of the fans who learned about the Duncan’s site and camped out there hoping to see a Ewing.
Once the Duncans moved out, the new owners had a group of designers recreate the bedrooms so that they matched the personalities of some of the star characters of the original series.
J.R. and Sue Ellen’s room was as grandiose and austentatious as you might imagine it would be. Their gigantic four poster bed dominated the room. It was exactly what I would have expected for those two.
I enjoyed wandering around the ranch and reminiscing about not just the show, but how different things seemed to me when I was young. Those of us who remember Dallas when it was huge — when everyone talked for months about the “Who shot J.R.?” cliffhanger, and were aggravated by the whole Bobby-dream season — are now getting older. We’re seeing how much life has changed: how much technology has altered our lifestyles, and how things that seemed larger than life turn out to be so much smaller when we look back on them years later.
I didn’t expect a stroll around Southfork to make me feel so old. I thought I’d wander around there like an oil baron millionaire. Or one of their wives. Pam always seemed to have it pretty good…
Were/Are you a Dallas fan?