Saturday, April 13, 2024

RIP Ken Kercheval, JR Ewing’s Arch Rival on “Dallas,” Dies at Age 83, Played Wiley Coyote to Larry Hagman’s Road Runner


As any “Dallas” fan can tell you, Ken Kercheval’s Cliff Barnes was really always the star of the show. Sadly, reports come today that Kercheval has died at age 83. He was a fine actor who lasted the entire 14 seasons of the series. He got his start in early TV and on New York soap operas.

Cliff Barnes was the bane of JR Ewing’s existence. Cliff blamed JR for the death of his father, and for beating him out of countless oil deals. He was a ridiculous character on the surface, but Kercheval infused him with humor and just enough nuttiness that you had to root for him. You wanted Cliff to win so badly, and it was awful when JR would give him just enough rope to hang himself. All of Cliff’s women eventually slept with JR, too, and turned against Cliff, which was hilarious.

Kercheval really played a version of Wiley Coyote to Larry Hagman’s Road Runner. I hope they’re happy in heaven, smoking cigars and having a good laugh. Their TV relationship is recalled for me now in the one between Axe and Chuck Rhoades in “Billions,” who are carrying on their tradition.

RIP Cliff Barnes.


Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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