Linda Gray rose to prominence with her portrayal of Sue Ellen Ewing on the iconic soap opera Dallas, becoming a household name in the process.

While she remained on the show for over 300 episodes, enjoying a successful career, Gray also faced personal challenges along the way. Despite the ups and downs, Linda Gray continues to thrive today at the age of 82.

It’s fascinating how certain actors seem tailor-made for particular roles, delivering performances that feel irreplaceable. Take, for instance, Michael Landon as Charles Ingalls in Little House on the Prairie or Dick Van Dyke as Bert in Mary Poppins—could anyone else truly embody those characters?

Linda Gray’s portrayal of Sue Ellen Ewing in Dallas is another perfect example. It’s difficult to imagine anyone else stepping into those iconic heels. Many of us are grateful she landed the role.

Linda Gray Dallas

Gray’s life has been a roller coaster, marked by health challenges, addiction struggles, and a tumultuous marriage. Yet, through it all, she has emerged stronger and more determined than ever to make the most of her career and life.

On Dallas, Gray shared the screen with Larry Hagman and Patrick Duffy. Now, she opens up about her experience acting alongside Hagman and the secrets behind their undeniable chemistry on set.

Linda Gray was born on September 12, 1940, in Santa Monica, California.

Linda Gray

During her childhood, Gray faced a significant challenge when she was diagnosed with polio. Her grandfather had previously been diagnosed with the virus, leaving her parents devastated. However, for Linda herself, the diagnosis didn’t seem like a big deal.

“They didn’t know what it was when he was 17, and he was always in a wheelchair,” she recalled. “When I was diagnosed, everyone went crazy in my family, but I wasn’t. I thought I could have a wheelchair like Grandpa.”

Growing up in Culver City, California, Linda’s father ran a watchmaker shop. Despite the challenges, performing was always in her blood. Linda would entertain on the streets of her neighborhood, and her talent was evident early on. While attending Notre Dame Academy in Los Angeles, she starred as Cinderella in a production of the classic fairy tale.

Although her father provided stability, emotional support wasn’t part of the equation. In her 2015 book, “The Road to Happiness Is Always Under Construction,” Linda Gray reflects, “He didn’t offer emotional support though. He was just kind of there, like a piece of furniture, but then this was a different time. You didn’t go to Dad with boyfriend problems. God forbid. But he was supportive of my career.”

Their mother, Marge, had a troubled past. A former artist and ballerina, Marge struggled with alcoholism, which soon led Linda and her sister to take charge of their household.

“She wasn’t falling drunk, there was never any yelling,” Linda wrote. “She wasn’t mean—she was just blurred, in her world. She would forget to buy food, so I started doing the cooking. My sister and I didn’t like her.”

In later years, Marge sought help through Alcoholics Anonymous and successfully overcame her addiction. Linda believes her mother’s drinking stemmed from disappointment and stifled creativity. Determined not to follow the same path, Linda was motivated to pursue her career to avoid a similar fate.

Linda Gray husband

Despite growing up near the heart of show business in Culver City, Linda Gray initially aspired to pursue a career in medicine. However, the allure of Hollywood ultimately beckoned, and she set her sights on becoming an actress. During her teenage years, Gray worked as a model for various beauty companies and airlines, immersing herself in the world of entertainment.

At the young age of 21, Linda married photographer Edward Lee Thrasher. However, what began as a joyous occasion soon turned into a nightmare for Linda. Her aspirations in show business were put on hold as she assumed the roles of wife and mother. Linda and Edward welcomed their son, Jeff Thrasher, in 1960, followed by their daughter, Kehly, six years later.

Despite their marriage, Linda felt emotionally disconnected from Edward, describing their relationship as emotionally cold and feeling abandoned. Determined to pursue her own career, Linda eventually made the difficult decision to leave her marriage after 21 years, determined to carve out her own path despite the challenges she faced.

Linda Gray family

Despite her husband’s desire for a luxurious lifestyle at home, Linda Gray saw an opportunity to enter show business and began appearing in television commercials. Her career trajectory took off, with two uncredited brief appearances in feature films in 1963: “Under the Yum Yum Tree” and “Palm Springs Weekend.”

In a legendary gig at age 27, Linda was paid $25 to serve as Anne Bancroft’s body double in the iconic poster for the film “The Graduate” (1967), starring Dustin Hoffman. Interestingly, she later portrayed Mrs. Robinson in the 2001 West End stage production of “The Graduate,” adding a twist to her connection with the iconic film.

Despite facing rejection, such as a rejection letter from Glamour Magazine in the early 1960s, Linda remained resilient and determined. She embraced rejection as fuel for her ambition, refusing to let it derail her dreams.

While Linda cherished her role as a mother, she also harbored frustration at being unable to pursue her career. When she finally decided to take acting classes, her husband was initially unsupportive, suggesting she wait until their children were older.

However, at age 37, Linda Gray forged her path, taking acting classes alongside younger prospects. Actor Dennis Weaver recognized her talent and helped her land her first significant acting job, a guest role on the TV series “Marcus Welby M.D.” in 1974.

Everything changed for the better when Linda Gray secured the role of Sue Ellen Ewing in the television soap opera “Dallas” in 1978. Initially intended as a recurring guest role for the first series, Linda’s captivating performances soon elevated her to a regular cast member. Her portrayal of Sue Ellen Ewing in the series, alongside Larry Hagman and Patrick Duffy, garnered praise from critics and catapulted her to immense success.

Linda Gray Dallas

On “Dallas,” Linda Gray became somewhat of a sex symbol, and the chemistry between her character, Sue Ellen Ewing, and Larry Hagman’s character, J.R. Ewing, was palpable.

Despite the perception of sexual chemistry on screen, Gray maintains that the reality was quite different. She describes her relationship with Hagman as akin to that of a bad big brother.

“He was the bad big brother that I never had,” Gray remarked. “He was always doing something in my mind wrong – he was drinking too much, or whatever, and I would reprimand him. He loved that, he loved to do something just to make me crazy. I’d say, ‘Don’t eat that. You don’t need that much sugar, and stop drinking.'”

Their dynamic was characterized by playful banter and teasing. Gray admits to being a bit of a “pain in the neck,” but Hagman enjoyed provoking her. Despite their off-screen antics, when the cameras rolled, they seamlessly slipped into character as J.R. and Sue Ellen, captivating audiences with their on-screen chemistry.

The success of “Dallas” extended beyond critical acclaim and industry recognition; audiences adored the show as well. The dynamic between Hagman and Gray, along with the compelling storyline, contributed to the show’s widespread popularity and enduring legacy.

Linda Gray

“Dallas” shattered numerous viewing records, establishing itself as one of the hottest properties on television. Even today, it remains one of the longest-running shows in American prime-time television history.

The pinnacle of “Dallas” viewing frenzy came on November 21, 1980, when viewers finally learned the identity of the person who shot Larry Hagman’s character, J.R. Ewing. The episode attracted an estimated audience of over 80 million viewers, making it the most-watched single television program in America at the time, according to BT. This record held until the final episode of the sitcom “MASH” drew in 121 million viewers.

Linda Gray

During her successful tenure on “Dallas,” Linda Gray earned recognition with two Golden Globe nominations for Best Actress in a Television Series Drama and a Primetime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series.

Amid her flourishing career on the show, Gray finalized her divorce from her husband, Ed Thrasher, in 1983. Her son, Jeff, followed in her footsteps, carving out a career as a director.

Jeff’s talents earned him an Emmy nomination in 2018 for Outstanding Directing in a Multiple Camera Lifestyle, Culinary, or Educational and Informational Program for “Furze World Wonders.” Additionally, he received a Canadian Screen Award for Best Science or Nature Documentary Program or Series for “Mission Asteroid” in 2015.

Tragedy struck the family in 2020 when Jeff passed away after reportedly battling leukemia. Linda Gray took to Instagram to share a heartfelt tribute to her late son, describing him as “the kindest, funniest, sweetest human being” who brought love to the world and was cherished by everyone. She wished for his journey to be a magical one in the afterlife.

Linda Gray’s legacy spans an impressive 308 episodes on “Dallas,” but her career didn’t stop there. Following the show, she continued to grace television screens in various series, and in 2012, she reprised her iconic role as Sue Ellen Ewing when “Dallas” was revived for two additional seasons. Gray’s contributions to the entertainment industry were recognized when she received a Special Award at the 2014 USA Film Festival.

Today, at 82 years old, Linda Gray continues to radiate the same stunning presence that captivated audiences for decades. Despite the challenges she’s faced throughout her life, from childhood to the loss of her son, Gray has shown remarkable resilience, transforming adversity into fuel for her journey forward.

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Her ability to navigate life’s ups and downs with grace and determination is truly admirable, and we extend our heartfelt wishes for her continued success and happiness in the future.