'Dallas' TV star Ken Kercheval dies

'Dallas' TV star Ken Kercheval dies

Dallas TV star Ken Kercheval dies

Actor Ken Kercheval, who played the role of Texas oilman Cliff Barnes opposite Larry Hagman's devious J.R. Ewing on the hit TV series "Dallas," has died at age 83.

A spokeswoman at Frist Funeral Home in Kercheval's hometown of Clinton, Indiana, confirmed the death to AFP and said his burial will be private. She did not provide further details.

Local news reports said Kercheval died on April 21 at his home after a long illness.

The actor played the role of a beleaguered oil tycoon on "Dallas," constantly having to defend himself from the scheming J.R. Ewing.

He said in an interview in 2012 that he liked his character who constantly tried -- without success -- to outwit J.R.

"J.R. was coming after my ass all the time, so I always had to defend myself," he said. "If I did something that wasn't quite right, it's because I had to."

Both actors were the only stars who stayed with the series throughout its 14-year run from 1978 to 1991. Kercheval was also part of a revival of the drama -- which revolved around a wealthy feuding Texas family -- from 2012 to 2014.

Actress Audrey Landers, who played Barnes' girlfriend, Afton Cooper, for several seasons on "Dallas," paid tribute to him in an Instagram post, saying he would always be in her heart.

"Thank you for being a great friend, scene partner, and for making history on #Dallas," she wrote. 

Born in 1935 in Wolcottville, Indiana, Kercheval studied art and drama and began his career as a stage actor.

"He was one of those guys who was going to be the next James Dean," David Jacobs, the creator of "Dallas," told the Hollywood Reporter.

He appeared with Dustin Hoffman in an off-Broadway production of "Dead End" and had roles in several Broadway musicals in the 1960s including "The Young Abe Lincoln" and "Cabaret."

His big-screen credits include "Network," "The Secret Storm," and "The Lincoln Conspiracy."          Beyond "Dallas," he had roles in dozens of TV series including "Murder, She Wrote," "Kojak," "L.A. Law" and "ER."

A prolific smoker, Kercheval underwent surgery for lung cancer in 1994 and was a self-described "practicing alcoholic" for 20 years before he stopped drinking.

The Hollywood Reporter said he was an avid collector of Americana and owned the inkwell that Abraham Lincoln dipped his pen into to sign the Emancipation Proclamation.

News reports said he was survived by several adult children.