Linda “Sue Ellen” Gray at the Texas Book Festival

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Linda Gray in the House Chamber of the Texas Capitol at the Texas Book Festival.
Linda Gray in the House Chamber of the Texas Capitol at the Texas Book Festival.

Linda Gray in the House Chamber of the Texas Capitol at the Texas Book Festival.

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Linda Gray, otherwise known as Sue Ellen on television’s “Dallas,” says she didn’t think she was ready to share her life story a couple of years ago because “I’m not old enough to write a memoir.” Then a friend reminded her that she would be 75 in 2015. “So I googled myself and found out she was right!”

She doesn’t look it. Perfectly groomed and smiling as big ever, the woman who played the alcoholic wife of J.R. Ewing was in fine form Saturday at the Texas Book Festival, where she talked about her book, “The Road to Happiness Is Always Under Construction.”

As her book proves, Gray has quite a positive outlook on life, even though are plenty of bumps along the road. Gray’s “bumps” included an alcoholic mother and a bout of polio at the age of 5. But with her mother’s help, she grew up to be a strong young woman whose legs were so sexy that she let the poster makers for “The Graduate” use those legs to frame the image of the young movie star Dustin Hoffman.

She talked a lot about her lifelong friendship with the late Larry Hagman, who played the evil Texas oilman J.R., and she stressed that he was nothing like the TV character. She started working with him back in 1978, and neither she nor he had any inkling that “Dallas” would become one of the most successful shows in television history.

When looking back on her life, she says, she considers herself very fortunate. But she told a packed crowd in the House Chamber of the Texas Capitol that she wanted to stress one thing: “Choose wisely,” a phrase that’s repeated in her book.

She left the audience with a hopeful, uplifting message, saying: “I think we’re all born with a spark of magnificence, and we’ve forgotten that.” She wants us to remember.

The crowd loved her.


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