Girls on Wheels Sleuthing at Southfork Ranch

Girls on Wheels sample the legendary lifestyle of the Ewings at Southfork Ranch.

Girls on Wheels sample the legendary lifestyle of the Ewings at Southfork Ranch.

Vicki Baker

It was the talk of summer 1980. We were rockin’ to Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust”, lining up at the theater to see The Blues Brothers, and watching Howard Cosell hosting Battle of the Network Stars. But the big question was three simple words. Well, really, two words and two letters: Who shot J.R.?

J.R. Ewing was the dastardly oil baron we all loved to hate on the prime time soap Dallas. In the infamous March 1980 episode, J.R., drinking coffee in a darkened office, heard a noise. Two bullets rang out. He collapsed and the credits rolled. The world was turned upside down. Families and office pools put bets on who the shooter was. T-shirts boasted “I shot J.R.,” a novelty song was written about the plot, and reportedly even England’s Queen Mum was spellbound.

Fast forward to 2019. Girls on Wheels ventured out to Southfork, the ranch the Ewings called home. We needed answers! Starting at the “Dallas Legends” Museum Exhibit, we re-lived moments from the series featuring an array of memorabilia. We saw the gun that shot J.R., Lucy’s wedding dress, and props and costumes from the show, as well as video clips from the series and interviews with the stars.

Taking a tram over to the big white house, we joined the tour guide who shared interesting tidbits about the years of filming and provided insights into the TV characters. We viewed J.R.’s master suite and lavish master bathroom. Photos were taken under the portrait of Jock Ewing in his living room. We peeked into the Ewing kitchen where Miss Ellie was often seen making dinner plans.

Departing the mansion, we dipped our toes in the pool where Bobby’s pool scenes were filmed and Lucy enjoyed sunbathing with her friends! We strolled through the ranch grounds and finished up with photos next to Jock’s original 1978 Lincoln Continental – all 19+ feet of it!

With lunch time approaching, we headed to Frankie’s Mexican Restaurant. Over margaritas and enchiladas, we recapped our day — walking through the front door of Southfork, the “most famous White House west of D.C.” and witnessing first-hand the outlandish and cutthroat lifestyle portrayed on Dallas. We chuckled at their backstabbing, blackmailing, and countless conniving deeds and realized Girls on Wheels were never cut out to be Ewings. We would never point the accusing finger, turn our backs, and throw the key away. Good friends would bail us out of jail — and best friends would be in the next cell saying, “Damn, that was fun!”

And, yes, we unearthed who shot J.R.