Robert Hampton

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11th August 2013

Dying on Stage (Screen)
Posted by at 7.21pm | Television | No responses

Cory Monteith’s death a month ago is not the first time that a television series has had to deal with an unplanned death. There have, sadly, been many occasions where the sudden death of an actor has forced scripts to be hastily rewritten.

Jim Davis – Dallas (1981)

Davis portrayed family patriarch Jock Ewing during the show’s initial years. He became ill during filming of season four and his appearances were restricted – in the few scenes where he did appear, he would usually be sitting down. Although Davis died in 1981, his character was not written out immediately. Instead, Jock was offscreen for several months “in South America”. Eventually, the writers incorporated Jock’s death into the show, and in this scene broadcast in January 1982, JR and Bobby deliver the news to Jock’s widow, Miss Ellie.

Technically, Jock was not killed off, but was only presumed dead, as the writers had toyed with the idea of recasting the role. In a bizarre postscript, a storyline a few years later involved a man claiming to be Jock Ewing showing up at the Ewings’ home, much to JR’s chagrin. This plot was resolved when an entire year’s worth of episodes were revealed to be a fevered dream of Pamela Barnes. American television is weird.

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