A buxom, blonde who made her debut as an actress with a bit part in Disney’s Freaky Friday (1976), Charlene Tilton became prominent for playing Lucy Ewing Cooper in 1978’s nighttime soap opera “Dallas” from 1978 to 1985 and again from 1988 to 1990. Impressively portraying her part, Tilton was handed a 1980 Young Artist Award. The role also brought her a Young Artist Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001.
Off screen, Tilton, whose measurements are 33-25-34 (during first season on “Dallas”) and 31-24-30 3/4 (after 1982 tabloid tracked diet plan to 100#), appeared topless in Playboy magazine in the 1980s. She was married to Johnny Lee from 1982 until 1984 and Domenick Allen from 1985 to 1992. Tilton is the mother of a 24-year-old daughter, Cherish Lee (born in 1982).
The two-time Young Artist winner has recently criticized her ex-Dallas co-star Victoria Principal as a “real bitch” by saying “Victoria Principal didn’t want to have anything to do with any of us after we’d finished shooting. On the other hand, she maintains a good relationship with another “Dallas” co-star Larry Hagman. She says, “Larry is a great person. He has become a father to me and has always given me valuable tips and great advice. I can always call him, he always has an answer.”
Childhood and Family:
An only child, Charlene L. Tilton was born on December 1, 1958, in San Diego, California. She was educated in Hollywood High School, in which she was a President of the Thespians’ Club and varsity cheerleader.
On Valentine Day 1982, Charlene tied the knot with Johnny Lee, but they later divorced in 1984. The couple has one daughter, Cherish Lee, who was born on August 20, 1982. A year after the separation, she tried to build a new family by marrying Domenick Allen in April 1985. Sadly, the marriage also ended in split up in 1992.
15-year-old Charlene Tilton got her start working at the concessions stand at the Egyptian Theater on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles, before hitting the wide screen for the first time with a small part as Bambi in Disney’s Freaky Friday, three years later. She followed it up with a recurring role in the syndicated series “Happy Days Again” (1976-1977), guest role in an episode of “Eight Is Enough,” as well as bit parts in films Sweater Girls and Big Wednesday (both 1978). Tilton made her television film debut as Julie Thurston in director Ted Post’s drama Diary of a Teenage Hitchhiker in 1979.
The San Diego native went on to guest star in “Knots Landing” (1980),” “Laverne & Shirley” (1980), “Fantasy Island” (1980), “Disneyland” (1982), “Hotel” (1983), “The Love Boat” (1980, 1985), “New Love, American Style” (1986) and “Murder, She Wrote” (1987). In addition, she also co-starred with Martin Landau in the James L. Conway-helmed horror telepic The Fall of the House of Usher (1982, as Jennifer Cresswell) and shared top bill with Glenn Ford in the Western television movie Law at Randado (1989).
In the meantime, Tilton received her big breakthrough as Lucy Ewing Cooper in the long-running nighttime soap “Dallas” (1978-1985, 1988-1990). The role won her a 1980 Young Artist for Best Juvenile Actress in a TV Series or Special, and in 2001, ten years after the series came to an end, Tilton took home another Young Artist, this time in the category of Former Child Star Lifetime Achievement for her work in “Dallas.”
After the termination of the cult television series, Tilton was seen in many films. She had small roles in the Western film Border Shootout (1990), writer/director William Byron Hillman’s action/drama Ragin’ Cajun (1991), For Parents Only (1991), the comedy Problem Child 2 (1991), the action Center of the Web (1992, starred Tony Curtis and Robert Davi) and the comedy/thriller The Silence of the Hams (1994, opposite Billy Zane). She also co-starred along side Jeff Wincott in Deadly Bet (1992), an action from director Richard W. Munchkin.
Returning to television, Tilton took on the supporting role of Grace Kelly in the thriller made-for-TV film Star Witness (1995), starring Ron Gilbert. She then appeared as Charlene in one episode of “Night Stand,” was additionally featured as an actress playing Norma Jean in National Lampoon’s Favorite Deadly Sins (1995) and portrayed Mrs. Zapruder in Safety Patrol (1998). Tilton revisited the silver screen with a co-starring role in the action film Detonator (1998), opposite Scott Baio.
Tilton rejoined Baio two years later in the Steve Cohen-directed comedy television film Bar Hopping, which starred Tom Arnold, and appeared as Stephanie in the made-for-television movie The Theory of Everything, that same year. She then was cast as a blonde scool director in the Krista Allen comedy vehicle Totally Blonde (2001), before appearing as a host in the comedy/short Zombie Rights! (2003).
Her most recent project is working with Deborah Flora and Ned Vaughn in the short movie A Distant Thunder (2005). The same year, she appeared in the English reality show “The Farm.”
- Young Artist: Former Child Star Lifetime Achievement, Dallas, 2001
- Young Artist: Best Juvenile Actress in a TV Series or Special, Dallas, 1980