Born on St. Patrick's Day: He made television history as Bobby Ewing: "Dallas" star Patrick Duffy turns 75

He was always like that.

Born on St. Patrick's Day: He made television history as Bobby Ewing: "Dallas" star Patrick Duffy turns 75

He was always like that. The nice one, the friendly one, the loving one. He was like that in the movie and in real life. And he has remained that way to this day. On March 17th, Patrick Duffy, the good man from the legendary intrigue soap “Dallas,” will be 75 years old.

It may be that the younger ones can no longer do much with his name. At least not as much as that of the film character Bobby Ewing, which Patrick Duffy played from 1978 until the end of the series in 1991. This Bobby Ewing was the kind, lovable younger brother of the iconic villain J.R. Ewing, who always tried to take advantage of Bobby with a sardonic smile and nasty tricks.

This warm-hearted Bobby Ewing made Patrick Duffy one of the most famous actors in Hollywood and therefore in the world. However, ahead of him was the mean J.R. Ewing, portrayed by Larry Hagman (1931-2012). While the two film characters J.R. and Bobby weren't green, Duffy and Hagman had a very close friendship.

During the filming of "Dallas" they had the ritual of drinking one or two glasses of champagne with every lunch for decades. There was another drink in the afternoon and in the evening too. Hagman said he "drank five bottles of champagne day after day" during filming, but I never got drunk. The good Duffy, on the other hand, only managed three drinks spread over the ten-hour workday.

The hit with audiences, “Dallas,” has brought Patrick Duffy, who previously played the lead role in the relatively successful science fiction series “The Man from Atlantis,” to the brink of fatigue. After seven years of "Dallas" he wanted to get out, so the screenwriters staged his death in the film at the end of the eighth season in 1985: Bobby Ewing is run over by his jealous sister-in-law Katherine, he dies in the hospital and is buried.

Many TV viewers - up to 18 million watched the series in Germany alone - didn't find Bobby's death funny at all. Without the righteous heartthrob Bobby, ratings plummeted. When Patrick Duffy's solo career in Hollywood wasn't really getting off the ground, J.R. Actor Larry Hagman's saving idea: They should just resurrect Bobby...

After a break of 31 "Dallas" episodes without Bobby, he was suddenly back at the end of the ninth season: There stood Bobby, who had been buried on film over a year ago, cheerfully in the shower and saying: "Good morning."

His divorced wife Pamela (Victoria Principal, 74), now married elsewhere, was happy to see the naked Bobby and stammered: "I had a terrible dream." Then Bobby: "It's over. None of it happened." Pam (and with her many millions of viewers) had only dreamed of the death of her beloved ex.

Nowadays, such a bland revival of one of the main characters would mean the final end of the series, but at the time, audiences welcomed the resurrected Bobby with gratitude and ratings rose again.

Patrick Duffy had one condition for his return: Following "Dallas", he should play the lead role in a new series specially designed for him. That's how it happened: When "Dallas" ended in 1991 after 14 seasons with 357 episodes, Duffy played a separated father who married a widow (Suzanne Somers, 1946-2023) in the family sitcom "A Strong Family". Both brought three teenage children into the marriage. The series ran for seven seasons until 1998.

He then had numerous guest appearances, appeared in the US soap opera "Rich and Beautiful" and in the successful series "Welcome to Sweden", but another huge success like that of "Dallas" was no longer forthcoming. That's why in 2012 the US cable channel TNT put "Dallas" on again, with old stars like Larry Hagman and Patrick Duffy, but after three seasons and 40 episodes it was finally over.

The likeable actor with the winning smile had long since largely withdrawn. Since the mid-1990s, he has lived on a ranch in the state of Oregon with his wife, the former ballet dancer Carlyn Rosser (1939-2017), to whom he had been married since 1974, and their two sons. The practicing Buddhist grew fruit and vegetables and loved the unglamorous life in the countryside.

He was now a farmer, he often told his colleagues in Hollywood, and there was always something to do on his farm: "Laying cables, sawing, painting: I do everything myself. After all, before my career as an actor, I was also a carpenter."

In interviews, Duffy always pointed out his connection to "Dallas Bobby": "I wish I had his money. But otherwise we are very similar. I'm a family man, I try to be a good husband for my wife and a good father for her to be my two sons."

However, real life wasn't always so balanced. There are serious blows of fate behind Duffy. In 1986, both of his parents were attacked and murdered by two teenagers in their restaurant in Boulders, Montana, in 2012 his best friend Larry Hagman died, and in 2017 his wife Carlyn Rosser succumbed to incurable pancreatic cancer after 43 years of marriage.

The death of his wife hit Patrick Duffy hard. He withdrew completely to his ranch. Then came the corona pandemic - and with it new happiness. During his isolation, Duffy met actress Linda Purl in a group chat and they spoke on the phone every evening for "two or three hours via Zoom," as he later revealed on the British TV show "This Morning."

This went on for almost four months without the two actually meeting each other. One evening Patrick said to Linda: "See you tomorrow, I love you!" Then he loaded up his car, drove 23 hours and was on her doorstep the next evening. "We haven't separated since then."

Patrick Duffy believes it was also his late wife's wish that he enjoy his happiness: "If you're given the chance, take it if it's right for you."

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