Ken Kercheval, the stage-bred actor who portrayed Cliff Barnes, the oil tycoon who was repeatedly bested by Larry Hagman’s J.R. Ewing, on the long-running CBS primetime soap opera Dallas, has died. He was 83.
A spokeswoman at the Frist Funeral Home in the actor’s hometown of Clinton, Indiana, confirmed his death in a brief conversation Wednesday with The Hollywood Reporter but would not divulge any details. His talent agent, Jeff Fisher, also confirmed the news. Messages left for two of Kercheval’s children were not immediately returned.
The Daily Clintonian newspaper reported that he died Sunday evening.
In the 1960s, Kercheval appeared in the original Broadway productions of Mike Nichols’ The Apple Tree and Harold Prince’s Cabaret after distinguishing himself as the young college professor (George Segal’s role in the movie) in a national touring production of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Kercheval also played one of the unorthodox cops who battles crime in New York City in the Roy Scheider-starring The Seven-Ups (1973) and showed up in other films like Pretty Poison (1968), the adaptation of John Updike’s Rabbit Run (1970), Sidney Lumet’s Network (1976) and F.I.S.T. (1978).
Kercheval and Hagman were the only two castmembers who were on Dallas through its entire 1978-91 original run, from pilot to finale. He appeared on 342 of the Lorimar series’ 357 episodes in its first incarnation — and directed a pair of installments as well — before returning as Cliff for a 1996 telefilm and for TNT’s 2012-14 reboot.
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