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‘Dallas’ star Ken Kercheval Dead At Age 83

Photo Credit: JPI

Sad news to report for fans of the iconic primetime soap, Dallas.  Ken Kercheval, who played the thorn in J.R. Ewing’s (Larry Hagman) side, Cliff Barnes, has passed away.   The actor was 83 and died at his home in Indiana on Sunday.   The cause of death is under wraps.  He had been previously open about being a lung cancer survivor after years of smoking.

Kercheval was on Dallas for its entire run on CBS from 1978 to 1991, and returned to the TNT reboot from 2012 to 2014 to reprise his signature role.

On Dallas, Cliff Barnes was always the perennial loser when he went toe to toe with ruthless J.R, but in the final season, Cliff beats J.R at his own game and takes over Ewing Oil.  Cliff was also hopelessly in love with Sue Ellen Ewing (Linda Gray) and was the brother to Pam Barnes, played by Victoria Principal.

As for Ken’s first big acting breaks, that came on daytime soap operas when early in his career he appeared on Search for Tomorrow and How to Survive a Marriage.

Later, he appeared on episodic dramas such as Starsky & Hutch, and Crossing Jordan.  His final role was in a movie, 2019’s Surviving in L.A. said to be a comedy/drama in which he plays the business manager of a former teen sitcom star who trashed her life through drug abuse and is fresh out of rehab.

Share your thoughts on the passing of Ken Kercheval in the comment section below.   But first, watch him as Cliff Barnes in this scene from TNT’s Dallas when he sees J.R. for the first time in years!

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James R. Poissant
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James R. Poissant

RIP, Ken. I think I speak for all of us when I say that you were the best on Dallas!!!

Patrick
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Patrick

he was, inarguably, the best actor outside of thee … Ewing Clan. his shenanigans, however much the writing slighted his demeanor. never stopped us from watching Cliff Barnes. watching JR and Cliff, adversarial … was like watching oil and water… yet the two never skipped a beat when it came to one upping takeover plotting conniving AND whatever was shared with both of these two sons from their respective family. He kept coming back… AND for very good reason… Ken Kercheval was as solid as they come. Near tour de force , supporting AND sharing the spotlight with all the… Read more »

Charday
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Charday

Thanks for reporting this–I hadn’t seen it anywhere else! He was a favorite on both the original and reboot DALLAS. Rest in Peace.

Charday
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Charday

What I remember best about his acting style on DALLAS is that his character always had unique reactions in almost every scene he was in. His acting choices were frequently a bit unexpected, but it fit his character. What an incredible talent!

Shay
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Shay

As one who fondly looks back to those heady days when the uber-popular Dallas and its happenings were a part of the country’s (okay, world’s) daily conversation, it’s impossible to imagine the show without its “ultimate loser,” Cliff Barnes as JR’s perennial whipping post! In the hands of a lesser actor, this character could have been a total laughing stock and completely pathetic fool, but Kercheval made him human, and even occasionally, worthy of sympathy. Although I admit I had little use for Cliff, his “underdog shtick” and his endlessly obsessive need to best JR and the Ewing clan, Ken… Read more »

Jimh
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Jimh

You always say it perfectly…

Shay
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Shay

Thank you so much, Jimh! You are always such a sweetheart …❤️

Clb
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Clb

Ken and Larry will always be the best ever for nighttime dramas. I will always remember watching Dallas on Friday nights. And you could add Jane Wyman in Falcon Crest and Michele Lee of Knots Landing to that best list. Thanks Ken for bringing the best to Dallas!

Janice
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Janice

So sorry prayers out to family and friends. Great show. Wish they would run Dallas back on TV again. Was the most watch show back then. Cliff enjoyed watching you.

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