“I think people love entertainment like that. If you do it right and the writing is well done, I think people will tune in. 'Desperate Housewives' (2004) has a bit of humor, a little satire going on. Sue Ellen was the original desperate housewife.” Linda Gray
Emmy and Golden Globe nominated actress and occasional director and producer Linda Gray gained widespread fame portraying Sue Ellen Ewing on the successful CBS prime time soap opera “Dallas” (1978-1989, 1991), from which she picked up her Emmy and Golden Globe nominations. The role, which she recreated in the reunion TV films “J.R. Returns” (1996) and “The War of the Ewings” (1998), also brought the former fashion model a Bambi Award (1982), the German equivalent of an Oscar, a citation from the Hollywood Radio and Television Society, which named her “Woman of the Year” (also 1982) and a Pop Culture Award from TV Land in 2006. Following the death of “Dallas,” she returned to series TV as a regular on “Models Inc.,” (1994-1995), a spin-off of the popular soap “Melrose Place.” Gray has also starred in numerous TV films, including “The Two Worlds of Jennie Logan” (1979), “Not in Front of the Children” (1982), “Moment of Truth: Broken Pledges” (1994), which she also co-produced, and “Star of Jaipur” (1998). She also portrayed Priscilla Kelly on the long running soap “The Bold and the Beautiful” (2004-2005). Her film credits include John Landis' “Oscar” (1991) and the short film “Reflections of a Life” (2006). On stage, she has acted in such productions as “The Graduate,” “The Vagina Monologues,” “Agnes of God in Vienna” and “Terms of Endearment” and was the director of “Murder in the First” (2000), a play based on the 1995 Don Gordon written film of the same name.
Gray has two children with her former husband Ed Thrasher, whom she lived with from 1962 to 1983. She is the grandmother of two boys, Ryder and Jack, from daughter Kehly's marriage to producer Lance Sloane. Now residing in Los Angeles, California, Gray owns a production company called LG Productions, Inc. She once served as a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations. She said, “My role is to meet people, listen to what they have to say and see what we can do to help.”
Childhood and Family:
The daughter of Leslie and Marjorie, Linda Ann Gray was born on September 12, 1940, in Santa Monica, California. She was raised in Culver City, California, in which her father owned a store. As a child, Linda, who was a shy girl, portrayed Cinderella in a high school production of the same name. She was educated at the Dale Carnegie School and Notre Dame Academy in Culver City, California.
On April 28, 1962, Linda married Ed Thrasher, but they divorced in 1983. They have two children together, daughter Kehly Sloane and son Jeff Thrasher. Her daughter, who became Miss Golden Globe in 1997, married producer Lance Sloane and has two sons named Ryder and Jack. Linda had a younger sister named Betty who died of breast cancer in 1989.
Linda Gray got her start in the entertainment business as a model when she was 17 years old. A successful model, she collected more than 400 TV commercials under her belt and later became the body double for the celebrated promotional poster for the film “Graduate” (1967), which starred Anne Bancroft and Dustin Hoffman. After attending acting classes, Gray, who had previously made brief appearances in the movies “Under the Yum Yum Tree” and “Palm Springs Weekend” (both 1963), began her full time career as an actress in a guest spot in the long running ABC drama series “Marcus Welby, M.D.” in 1974. She made her TV movie debut in “The Big Ripoff,” starring Tony Curtis, a year later and then appeared as Miss Engle in a thriller helmed by Burt Brinckerhoff called “Dogs” (1976).
An accidental meeting with the wife of Dennis Weaver in a health food store led Gray to being cast in her first significant dramatic role in Mr. Weaver's popular police show “McCloud,” where she played Cindy Yates. Later that same year, she was invited back to the show to play Kate O'Hannah in an episode called “’Twas the Fight Before Christmas...” Still in 1977, she won her first series regular role in the series “All That Glitters,” where she was cast as Linda Murkland, and supported Dorothy Malone and Ed Nelson in “Murder in Peyton Place,” a mystery TV film based on a novel by Grace Metalious.
However, Gray did not enjoy a massive breakthrough until she joined the cast of the CBS primetime soap opera “Dallas” in 1978 in the regular role of Sue Ellen Ewing. As the long-suffering wife of the hateful J.R. Ewing (played by Larry Hagman), she picked up an Emmy nomination in 1981 for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, two consecutive Golden Globe nominations (1981, 1982) for Best Performance by an Actress in a TV Series Drama, and four Soap Opera Digest nominations in the categories of Outstanding Actress in a Leading Role on a Prime Time Serial and Favorite Super Couple on a Prime Time Serial (1986, 1988). She stayed with the popular show for 11 years until 1989, during which time she also directed four episodes, including her debut “Just Desserts” (1986).
During her years on the hit series, Gray also hosted the “CBS All-American Thanksgiving Day Parade” with costars from “Dallas” six years in a row. In 1981, she hosted the TV specials “The Body Human: The Loving Process-Women” and “The Body Human: The Loving Process-Men.” As for acting, she could be seen in a number of TV films, including “The Two Worlds of Jennie Logan” (1979, with Lindsay Wagner and Marc Singer), the Emmy nominated drama “Haywire” (1980), “The Wild and the Free” (1980, costarred with Granville Van Dusen), “Not in Front of the Children” (1982, starred as the ex-wife of John Lithgow) and the sequel “Kenny Rogers as The Gambler, Part III: The Legend Continues” (1987).
Gray returned to “Dallas” in the show's final season in 1991 to appear in the episodes “Conundrum: Part 1” and “Conundrum: Part 2.” The same year, she also appeared in the remake “Oscar,” which was directed by John Landis and starred Sylvester Stallone, and had the recurring role of Cassandra Lynch on “Lovejoy.” She continued to act in such TV movies as the Paul Schneider directed “Entertainers” (1991) and “Highway Heartbreaker” (1992), the Western “Bonanza: The Return” (1993), “Moment of Truth: Why My Daughter?” (1993, starred as Gayle Moffitt), the drama “Moment of Truth: Broken Pledges” (1994, also served as co-producer) and the thriller “Accidental Meeting” (1994). Also in 1994, Gray guest starred as Hillary Michaels, the mother of Heather Locklear's Amanda, on the Aaron Spelling produced series “Melrose Place.” She recreated the role for the spin-off series “Models Inc.,” which she starred throughout the show's short lived run from 1994 to 1995. After the demise of “Models Inc.,” Gray reprised her coveted role of Sue Ellen for the reunion TV movies “Dallas: J.R. Returns” (1996) and “Dallas: The War of the Ewings” (1998). In between the projects, she was reunited with Paul Schneider for the made-for-TV film “When the Cradle Falls” (1997) and costarred as Linda Trask in the television movie “Star of Jaipur” (1998).
Entering the new millennium, Gray put her screen career on the backburner and primarily appeared on stage. After directing her first play, “Murder in the First,” which debuted at the Rubicon Theater in Ventura, California, (2000) she took the role of Mrs. Robinson in London's West End production of Charles Webb's “The Graduate” (October 2001 to February 2002). In September 2002, she reprised the role on Broadway at the Plymouth Theatre. Other stage credits include the critically acclaimed drama “Love Letters,” opposite Larry Hagman, and the hit “Agnes of God in Vienna.”
In early 2004, Gray appeared in the play “The Vagina Monologues” in Atlanta and California. She resumed her TV career in a recurring role on the soap opera “The Bold and the Beautiful,” where she portrayed Priscilla Kelly from 2004 to 2005. She next played Victoria Sawyer in the TV film “McBride: It's Murder, Madam” (2005), alongside John Larroquette, Marta DuBois and Matt Lutz, costarred with Kathi Carey in the short movie “Reflections of a Life” (2006), which was also directed by Carey, and appeared as Barbara Meryl in an episode of the series “Pepper Dennis” (2006), starring Rebecca Romijn. Also in 2006, she was handed a TV Land for Pop Culture Award for her work in “Dallas,” an honor she shared with former costars Charlene Tilton, Larry Hagman, Patrick Duffy and Sheree J. Wilson.
More recently, Gray starred in a stage version of “Terms of Endearment,” based on the 1983 movie directed and scripted by James L. Brooks. The show was brought to the West End in 2008.
TV Land: Pop Culture Award, “Dallas,” 2006
Hollywood Radio and Television Society: “Woman of the Year,” 1982