Dallas vet Ken Kercheval, who played Cliff Barnes, the longtime archenemy of Larry Hagman’s J.R. Ewing, on the original CBS series and subsequent TNT revival, has died. He was 83.
Kercheval died Sunday evening in his hometown of Clinton, Indiana, according to THR.
After making his acting debut in 1962 in the Broadway play Something About a Soldier, Kercheval went on to appear on stage in The Apple Tree, Cabaret and Fiddler on the Roof. He segued to television via roles in soaps Search for Tomorrow, The Secret Storm and How to Survive a Marriage. His film work included roles in the ’70s pics Network, The Seven-Ups Rabbit Run and and F.I.S.T.
But his big break came in 1978 when he landed the role of Cliff on Dallas. He appeared in the pilot through to the 1991 series finale, one of only two cast members to appear in all 14 seasons of the show (the other one being Hagman). He reprised his role as Cliff in a 1996 TV movie version as well as the TNT revival.
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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 revival, the latter of which ran for three seasons (concluding in 2014).
On playing Cliff, Kercheval admitted back in 1987 to the Chicago Tribune, ‘He just makes you cringe sometimes. The only reason he works is his own sincerity and the humor I inject into him. If I wasn’t able to convince people that Cliff really, really believes in all his schemes, it would never work.”