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R.I.P. Dallas star Ken Kercheval

Photo: Peter Larsen (Getty Images)

Ken Kercheval, best known as J.R. Ewing antagonist Cliff Barnes on Dallas, has died, confirms The Hollywood Reporter. His Sunday passing was first reported by The Daily Clintonian, the newspaper in Kercheval’s hometown of Clinton, Indiana, where he died. He was 83.

Kercheval began his career onstage with directors like Mike Nichols before transitioning into soaps like Search For Tomorrow and films like Network, The Seven-Ups, and John Updike adaptation Rabbit Run. In 1978, he joined the cast of Dallas, playing bumbling bureaucrat Cliff Barnes, a character that was apparently modeled on the late Robert F. Kennedy. Along with Larry Hagman, who played J.R., Kercheval stuck with Dallas for its entire run—that includes its original run from 1978 to 1991, the 1996 TV movie, and TNT’s reboot series, which aired from 2012 to 2014.

Despite Cliff’s faults, Kercheval maintained that he liked his character. “I really did,” he told the Dallas Decoder in 2012. “I thought he was a nice guy too. J.R. was coming after my ass all the time, so I was always had to defend myself. If I did something that wasn’t quite right, it’s because I had to.”

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Randall Colburn

Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.