Linda Gray, who played the legendary role of Sue Ellen Ewing in the hit show Dallas, had a life filled with excitement and a number of obstacles.
Recalling her childhood in Culver City, California, she says how being given the chance to hang out with her friends around the filming studios triggered something in her that made her fall in love with acting. Her father, whom she describes as a rather cold person was always supportive of her career. Her mother used to be a heavy alcoholic while Linda and her sister were growing up so they had to take care of the house for long.
“She wasn’t falling down drunk, there was never any yelling,” Linda wrote in her book The Path to Happiness is Always Under Construction. “She wasn’t mean – she was just blurred, in her own world, she would forget to buy food so I started doing the cooking. My sister and I didn’t like her.”
Linda married her first and only husband, whom she separated with in 1983, photographer Edward Lee Thrasher, when she was 21. They had two children together, and although she enjoyed being a mother, it was her husband who somehow stood in her way of making a career in acting.
Although she was part of many commercials, it took Linda quite some time to finally gather the courage to attend acting classes.
In 1967, Linda was paid $25 to be Anne Bancroft’s body double in the poster for the film The Graduate not knowing that years later, or in 2001 to be exact, she would end up playing Mrs Robinson in the West End State production of The Graduate.
During the 1960s, she got a rejection letter from the Glamour Magazine, but that only made her more determined to succeed. “It was so funny that I kept that letter,” she wrote. “I kept the letter because I realized that we all have rejections, and it was her opinion when I was 20 years old. I could have had it devastate my life. But, I didn’t. This feisty streak came out – ‘Oh, yeah? I’m gonna show you!’ With great love and a lot of humor, I kept that letter. It kicked me from behind, and made me want to go and do something.”
After playing small roles, Linda finally got the one that marked her career, that of Sue Ellen Ewing. She appeared in total of 308 episodes on Dallas and played alongside Larry Hagman and Patrick Duffy.
Speaking of her relationship with Hagman, Linda told CM Chat Live: “He was the bad big brother that I never had. 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.’”
In fact, when Linda was briefly fired from the show for asking for a higher pay, it was Hagman who demanded she gets back.
For her legendary performance in Dallas, Linda received numerous awards, including two Golden Globe Awards for Best Actress – Television Series Drama, as well as a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress.
Her son, Jeff Thrasher, followed into her footsteps and worked as a director. Sadly, he was diagnosed with leukemia and passed away in 2020. Linda was devastated. She had a hard time coping with the loss. Recently, she paid tribute to Jeff writing: “A celebration of my son Jeff’s life. He was the kindest, funniest, sweetest human being….. he brought the world such love and was loved by everyone! May his journey be a magical one.”
We are very sorry for her loss. Linda is doing her best to live her life without her son. She is 80 years old and is looking as stunningly beautiful as always.