Actor who played Cliff Barnes on long-running CBS soap opera Dallas has died at age 83. A spokeswoman at a funeral home in Kercheval’s hometown Clinton, Indiana confirmed his death according to The Hollywood Reporter. The news was also confirmed by his talent agent, Jeff Fisher.
In the 1960s, Kercheval starred in the Broadway production The Apple Tree, and Cabaret after distinguishing himself in a national touring production of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? In Dallas, Kercheval was oftentimes bested by Larry Hagman. Kercheval and Hagman were the only cast members to be on Dallas through its entire original run. Kercheval also played as one of the unorthodox cops battling crime in New York City in The Seven-Ups (1973.) He’s also starred in Pretty Poison (1968), Rabbit Run (1970), Network (1976) and F.I.S.T. (1978). David Jacobs, the creator of Dallas, said “He was one of those guys who was going to be the next James Dean.”
“Finally, I went to [writer-producer] Leonard Katzman and said, ‘I’m not sure exactly how to play this, because for this guy to keep coming back again and again, he’d have to have gotten a lobotomy,’ Kercheval said when discussing his role on Dallas. “I thought as an actor, ‘How am I going to have an audience believe that this guy is not some imbecile who keeps coming back, [only] to get whipped? I thought the only way is to add some humor to it, just to say, ‘Dust yourself off, get up and start all over again,” he added.
Kercheval smoked two to three packs of cigarettes a day, causing him to have part of his lung removed after he was diagnosed with cancer. Over the years he said viewers of Dallas would ask him when Cliff was “finally going to get J.R.”