My mother called me at work today. My mother, who lives in Michigan, called me while I was at work in California.
Barbara Bel Geddes died. Miss Ellie!
Bel Geddes had one hell of a career before Dallas. However, as many actors will attest, TV has a way of changing your whole career. Sure, she was the original Maggie in Cat On A Hot Tin Roof and starred in Vertigo - but every Friday night she came into people's living rooms as Miss Ellie. The very definition of steel magnolia, she loved her husbands, doted on her grandsons, and was the only character on the entire show that could tell J.R. he was being an ass, and get away with it.
My mother called Miss Ellie my"surrogate grandmother," and in many ways she was. Every Friday night I would watch Dallas with her mother. To this day I can't believe my mother let me watch it - but she did. It's a shame my own grandmother passed away before the first seasons of Dallas were released on DVD. I think she would have gotten a kick out of that.
My favorite part of the article I linked to on Bel Geddes passing is the mention that RKO dropped her contract because she wasn't sexy enough. Oh sure, Bel Geddes was more of a girl next door type - but damn, check out some of her old publicity photos here. She could do glamour with the best of 'em.