Thirty years ago, on March 21, 1980, fans of the CBS television series, Dallas, were shocked out of their seats when the character they loved to hate, J.R. Ewing, was the victim of a shooting. It was a cliffhanger episode that would keep all of America collectively speculating for many months as to “Who shot J.R.?”
Through an entire summer, America waited. Bookies took bets as to who pulled the trigger, and many fans proudly donned t-shirts claiming that they, in fact, had shot the Texas oil tycoon. One can only imagine how many times actor Larry Hagman, who portrayed the villainous Mr. Ewing, was asked who shot him, but he never budged. Then came a Hollywood writers strike, which significantly delayed the show’s return. Finally, on November 21, 1980, a whole seven months after shots were fired, 83 million television viewers tuned in to finally get the answer to this lingering question. This is what they saw:
This show remains the second most widely viewed television episode ever, just behind the final episode of M*A*S*H. But more than the eventual conclusion to this cliffhanger, it is the summer of speculative madness that many people remember most. Here are actor Larry Hagman’s recollections:
Were you one of those caught up in the hype? Did you proclaim yourself the mystery assailant? Share those memories from 30 years ago with all of us at Retroland, as we fondly remember the day that the evil J.R. finally got what was coming to him.