”Dallas” star dies aged 80, leaving fans devastated

”Dallas” star dies aged 80, leaving fans devastated

Dallas was a landmark series for television and one of the first seriously big dramas to hit America. From its humblest beginnings, the show became a popular feature in homes around the world.

Several of the actors from the iconic series are still alive, but the unstoppable ravages of time are conspiring to ensure that others who appeared in the iconic show are, one by one, departing this world for good.

Tributes are now pouring in after the announcement of Gayle Hunnicutt’s tragic passing.

The accomplished and undeniably beautiful actress, best known for her role as Vanessa Beaumont in the last three seasons of Dallas, died on August 31, 2023.

American Actress Gayle Hunnicutt. (Photo by Avalon/Getty Images)

Gayle Hunnicutt was primarily recognized for her portrayals of Irene Adler in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Beaumont in Dallas.

Texas born Gayle played the role of Beaumont, mother of J.R’s first born son James (Sasha Mitchell). She starred on the series from 1989-91. According to many of her fans, Gayle was a wonderful actress who made for a great addition to the cast towards the end of Dallas. When she first appeared in show, she had an allure that overshadowed many of the other female leads.

Her extensive list of on-screen credits also includes appearances in TV shows like The Beverly Hillbillies, movies such as Fragment of Fear, The Golden Bowl, The Legend of Hell House, and the series Private Eye.

According to Washington Post, Gayle died of an unspecified illness at a hospital in London. Her passing was confirmed by her ex-husband, journalist Simon Jenkins.

Gayle Hunnicutt in The Golden Bowl (1973)

Hailing from Fort Worth, Texas, Hunnicutt was the daughter of an army colonel, but her accent could easily fool you into thinking she was a true Englishwoman. Her journey into the world of entertainment began while she attended the University of California in Los Angeles (against her parents’ wishes).

Initially, she worked as a secretary in an advertising agency before venturing into modeling.

Before long, she set her sights on an acting career. In her early Hollywood days, she found herself frequently cast as a sultry brunette bombshell.

“In California I was going down the path of being built up on my looks. I feel I was very lucky to escape,” she told the Guardian in 1974.

Gayle Hunnicutt with David Hemmings in a limousine; circa 1970; New York. (Photo by Art Zelin/Getty Images)

In 1968, she tied the knot with British actor David Hemmings. Their love story began at a party hosted by Peter Lawford, when David was in town from London to work on Camelot.

“It was instant combustion,” she recalled.

Gayle and David’s love blossomed and they even co-starred in two horror films in the early 1970s.

The couple decided to move to England, together welcoming a son, actor Nolan Hemmings. In 1975, though, the couple went their separate ways.

Hunnicutt later married journalist Simon Jenkins and the couple lived in Primrose Hill, London, where they raised their son Edward. Gayle and Simon divorced in 2009.

Gayle in The Legend of Hell House / Flickr

Gayle Hunnicutt on Dallas

Despite her extensive work in the United States, Gayle made the deliberate choice to establish a life in Europe, and never returned to her homeland.

In many of her interviews, she expressed her aversion to Hollywood and the Los Angeles culture. She believed that there were higher standards for filmmaking in England, and she felt much more comfortable in Europe, where money and fame weren’t the sole factors in determining one’s success.

”I love Texas and the states, but I will never live there again,” she told San Antonio Express in 1974. 

Yet she returned to the United States to take on argaubly her most iconic role, that of Vanessa Beaumont in Dallas. Given her previous stance and statements, many were pleasantly surprised when Gayle transformed into a soap opera queen in the 1980s.

LOS ANGELES, CA – MARCH, 1967: Actress Gayle Hunnicutt poses for a portrait in March, 1967 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Martin Mills/Getty Images)

So why did she agree to join the hit show? 

”Someone offered me the part and it looked interesting. I must confess, I did enjoy working with Larry and other friends. Whatever you think of Dallas, it is incredibly professional,” she told the Manchester Evening News in 1989. 

”I don’t think I’ll accept any other soap-opera parts, but I’m glad I did it. But I don’t know whether I’ll be able to force myself to watch it on TV”. 

Aside from being a talented actress, Gayle also authored two books. Her first work, titled Health and Beauty in Motherhood, was released in 1984.

In 2004, she published Dearest Virginia: Love Letters from a Cavalry Officer in the South Pacific, a book that comprises the heartfelt letters exchanged between her parents while her father served in the South Pacific during World War II.

I’m very sad to hear the news of Gayle’s passing. She was, for me, a great addition to Dallas – particularly in season 14. Rest in Peace!

If you found this article interesting, we can suggest an update on how this Dallas star is doing today and why people no longer recognize her.

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