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A throwback to the stalwart, ramrod straight and dependable leading men of Hollywood's Golden Age, Patrick Duffy rose to fame as Bobby Ewing, the "good son" of the Texas oil clan on "Dallas" (CBS, 1978-1991) after a decade of largely anonymous work on television. Duffy's kindly Bobby ran in direct opposition to his scheming brother J.R. (Larry Hagman), which fueled much of the duplicitous backbiting that gave the show its lifeblood. He was also at the center of the program's sudsiest romance between Bobby and wife Pamela (Victoria Principal). Both factors contributed to Duffy's considerable popularity among viewers, who were shocked by his decision to leave the show in 1984; his return the following year resulted in one of the most jaw-dropping storylines in television history. Post-"Dallas," Duffy starred in the popular but lightweight sitcom "Step By Step" (ABC/CBS, 1991-98) and logged time on the daytime soap "The Bold and the Beautiful" (CBS, 1987- ). After serving as producer on two "Dallas" reunion TV movies, the actor returned as Bobby for the series reboot of "Dallas" (TNT, 2012-14), one of cable's biggest hits of the season. Knowing full well that he would forever be the saintly son of the...
A throwback to the stalwart, ramrod straight and dependable leading men of Hollywood's Golden Age, Patrick Duffy rose to fame as Bobby Ewing, the "good son" of the Texas oil clan on "Dallas" (CBS, 1978-1991) after a decade of largely anonymous work on television. Duffy's kindly Bobby ran in direct opposition to his scheming brother J.R. (Larry Hagman), which fueled much of the duplicitous backbiting that gave the show its lifeblood. He was also at the center of the program's sudsiest romance between Bobby and wife Pamela (Victoria Principal). Both factors contributed to Duffy's considerable popularity among viewers, who were shocked by his decision to leave the show in 1984; his return the following year resulted in one of the most jaw-dropping storylines in television history. Post-"Dallas," Duffy starred in the popular but lightweight sitcom "Step By Step" (ABC/CBS, 1991-98) and logged time on the daytime soap "The Bold and the Beautiful" (CBS, 1987- ). After serving as producer on two "Dallas" reunion TV movies, the actor returned as Bobby for the series reboot of "Dallas" (TNT, 2012-14), one of cable's biggest hits of the season. Knowing full well that he would forever be the saintly son of the Ewing clan in the public's eye, Duffy graciously continued to give viewers what they wanted.
The son of tavern owners Terrence and Marie Duffy, he was born in Townsend, MT on March 17, 1949 and raised in Seattle, WA. Athletics were his first passion, but he developed an interest in acting while in high school that brought him to Professional Actors Training Program at the University of Washington. He graduated from the program in 1971 and worked as a drama teacher as well as an interpreter for ballet and opera companies in Washington. Duffy relocated to New York City in 1974 and appeared in several off-Broadway productions, but soon moved to Los Angeles and almost immediately began landing roles on television. His first break also came quickly with "The Man from Atlantis" (NBC, 1977-78), a short-lived science fiction series with Duffy as an amnesiac whose incredible aquatic abilities may have been due to his heritage in the mythical lost civilization. Duffy performed the majority of his underwater stunts, thanks to his scuba diving training as a teenager. Just one year after its cancellation, Duffy was hard at work after scoring what would ultimately be his career-defining role - that of Bobby Ewing on the nightime soap "Dallas" (CBS, 1978-1991).
The youngest son of Ewing family patriarch Jock (Jim Davis) and wife Miss Ellie (Barbara Bel Geddes), Duffy's Bobby was clearly the Abel in his relationship with older brother J.R.(Larry Hagman); a third brother, Gary (Ted Shackleford), had his own inner turmoil to contend with and later departed Texas for California on the spin-off series, "Knots Landing" (CBS, 1979-1993). Bobby's dominant character trait was his inherent sense of decency and fair play in both his business dealings and his personal life, which infuriated the double-dealing J.R. to no end. Their struggle to control the vast Ewing Oil empire formed the backbone of the show, though Bobby was also no stranger to conflict within his own home. His marriage to Pamela Barnes (Victoria Principal), sister to the family's chief rival, Clifford Barnes (Ken Kercheval), caused no small amount of tension between Bobby and his immediate family, and the couple underwent numerous tragedies, including the loss of two children, the death of her father, and an adopted child that may have been J.R.'s son. Bobby's takeover of Ewing Oil after J.R.'s fabled 1980 shooting drove a further wedge into the relationship, as did his affair with Jenna Wade (Priscilla Presley). The pair eventually divorced, then attempted to reconcile, but as was often the case, happiness was averted by outlandish disaster in the form of a fiery car crash that permanently disfigured Pamela. She later vanished altogether prior to the show's finale, a move precipitated by Principal abandoning the series.
Duffy also left the series for a brief spell in 1985. Unhappy with the direction of the show and his own career, he arranged for Bobby to meet his maker at the hands of his half-sister-in-law and former lover, Katherine Wentworth (Morgan Brittany), who ran him over in a fit of rage. But Bobby's departure proved near-fatal for the series, and his co-star and best friend Hagman persuaded him to return at the end of the 1986. Just how this miracle was pulled off remained one of television's most audacious moments; the season finale found Pam waking from a terrible dream about Bobby's death, only to find him, cheerful and very much alive in their shower. The scene essentially told viewers that all of the events of the previous season were the product of Pam's overactive subconscious. Incredibly, audiences ate it up if it meant having Duffy back on the show.
The beloved actor remained with "Dallas" until it drew to a close with a fantasy-driven final episode in 1991, which found J.R. in ruins and reliving the wickedness of his life via an emissary from Hell (Joel Grey). The final image of the original network run was devoted to Bobby, who reacts in horror after seeing what appeared to be J.R. committing suicide. For his service to "Dallas," Duffy netted a Soap Opera Digest Award in 1985 and several subsequent nominations. He also remained fairly active with other projects during his tenure on the series. Most were generic TV features and episodic guest shots, though he did appear as Paul Tibbets, the man who piloted the plane that bombed Hiroshima, in the well-received "Enola Gay: The Men, The Mission, The Atomic Bomb" (NBC, 1980). Duffy also starred and co-produced an independent feature, "Vamping" (1984), about a jazz musician's descent into crime, and went behind the camera for over 20 episodes of "Dallas." He even scored a pop hit in Europe with "Together We're Strong," a 1983 duet with French singer Mireille Mathieu.
There were also dark moments in the decade for him as well. In 1986, both of Duffy's parents were murdered by two teenaged gunmen who were robbing their bar in Montana. Both were sentenced to 75 years in prison, but one of the assailants was subsequently paroled in 2006 despite denial for clemency. In 1991, Duffy returned to active series work with "Step By Step," a family sitcom that echoed "The Brady Bunch" (ABC, 1969-1974) in its story of two divorcees (Duffy and Suzanne Somers) who combine their respective offspring to form one large, rambunctious brood. Duffy's Frank Lambert was a far cry from the well-mannered Bobby Ewing; a diehard sports fan, he could be chauvinistic at times, but ultimately provided enough man-to-man advice to fulfill his duties as a TV dad. Never a critical favorite, "Step By Step" was popular with family audiences who tuned in regularly to its spot on ABC's formidable Friday night lineup. However, few followed the program to its new home on CBS, and it expired in 1998 to little fanfare. In addition to serving as series co-lead, Duffy also directed a number of episodes throughout its long run.
While working on "Step By Step," Duffy also shepherded two "Dallas" reunion movies for CBS. "Dallas: J.R. Returns" (1996) found Hagman's arch villain very much alive and up to his Stetson hat in plans to reclaim Ewing Oil for his own. Duffy also reprised Bobby, who considered selling off Southfork before being pulled back into the oil business by his brother. A substantial hit in the ratings, it naturally precipitated a sequel, "War of the Ewings" (1998), which pitted J.R. against Bobby and ex-wife Sue Ellen for control of Ewing Oil. The second effort did not receive the same level of audience response as the first reunion film, which scuttled Duffy's plans for a third film.
Duffy kept busy in the new millennium with a variety of television projects. In 2006, he replaced actor Robert Pine as ne'er do well Stephen Logan on "The Bold and the Beautiful" while also serving as host of the Game Show Network's "Bingo America" (2008). Duffy put a humorous spin on his past as Bobby Ewing by reprising the character in an episode of "Family Guy" (Fox, 1999-2002, 2005- ) that spoofed the famous shower discovery scene. In late 2008, he joined fellow "Dallas" vets Larry Hagman and Linda Gray in a 30th anniversary reunion for fans at the real Southfork Ranch. In addition to his duties on "Bold and the Beautiful," Duffy made a cameo as the object of Sigourney Weaver's old high school obsession in the comedy "You Again" (2010) and in an episode of the catering comedy series "Party Down" (Starz, 2009-2010). It seemed, however, that the character of Bobby Ewing would once again reignite the actor's career when "Dallas" (TNT, 2012-14), a continuation of the original series, reunited him with Hagman and Gray in their roles as J.R. and Sue Ellen. While the elder generation would play a significant role on the new show, the main focus had shifted to the Ewing scions John Ross (Josh Henderson) and Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe), sons of J.R. and Bobby, respectively. As their fathers had before them, the young tycoons battled each other for control of the Ewing Empire amidst a backdrop of sex, greed and betrayal. Proving that the concept still had legs, the new "Dallas" ended its season as one of basic cable's top-rated new drama series and was quickly approved for a second season.
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