Dustin Hoffman, a young teenage actor, was seen staring in awe at a pair of defining legs featured on the iconic 1960s movie poster.
Contrary to popular belief, Linda Gray, a costar on the CBS soap opera “Dallas,” was the owner of these long legs. When questioned about her participation in the poster campaign, Gray revealed that she was only paid $25 for allowing her legs to be used.
This small fee was far from what Bancroft would have received if she had been consulted or available.
Linda Gray’s impressive appendages soon became well-known and garnered attention from no other than Hollywood royalty Elizabeth Taylor who gave her the affectionate nickname “the b*tch with the long legs.”
But many people were unaware that Gray had polio when she was younger and could not move her legs freely. Fortunately, this did not deter her from becoming a successful television actress, appearing in various projects throughout her career.
Linda Gray contracted polio when she was five years old, an infectious disease that affects the central nervous system and neural pathways connecting the brain to the muscles.
This devastating diagnosis had a long-term impact on her family, as her mother sought solace in alcohol in her time of need. Linda felt personally responsible for her parents’ depression and excessive drinking, which not only caused sadness in the household.
Iron lung ventilators had become commonplace treatments for polio patients at the time of Linda’s diagnosis. Her doctors advised her parents to place Linda in one of these 800-pound airtight metal canisters to help relieve her symptoms, although the virus had caused no harm to her lungs.
In her memoir “The Road to Happiness Is Always Under Construction,” Linda discussed how she silently carried the burden of this diagnosis throughout her life.
Linda Gray’s polio struggle was difficult not only for her but also for those around her. Her mother’s alcoholism made things more difficult for everyone involved because she sought solace in alcohol rather than other healthy outlets.
As a result, sadness and grief pervaded their home environment through no fault of their own. At the same time, all parties waited patiently for recovery. Even though the virus had not affected Linda’s respiratory system, doctors recommended that she be placed in an iron lung—an airtight metal canister designed to aid breathing—to help alleviate some of its effects.
Despite such adversity, Linda eventually found success and happiness; this is also reflected in her published work, where she shares how she has managed to carry the weight of such a traumatic experience with grace throughout adulthood into today’s modern society.
Linda was a polio patient who had to be confined to her bed due to her condition.
To find an alternative therapy for her situation, her parents decided to try “Raggedy Ann,” in which Linda’s mother would lift and lower one of her legs multiple times a day for months until she regained enough strength in her limbs to walk again.
Linda was eventually able to dance in a debut recital, indicating that she had been successfully released from paralysis.
Linda soon dropped out of school and began working as a model full-time in search of greater independence and freedom. During this time, she met Ed Thrasher, a well-known record album cover artist who would later become her husband.
Unfortunately, their marriage was far from harmonious because Ed was abusive and manipulative and demanded that Linda stay home with him instead of going out to work.
Despite their difficulties, the couple remained together for 21 years before splitting up.
Ed and Linda hoped to fulfill Ed’s cowboy fantasies. Linda used her advertising skills to make money, and the couple relocated 45 minutes from Downtown Los Angeles to Canyon Country, Santa Clarita County.
Their new home included co-raised animals, two children, and household responsibilities such as cooking, cleaning, and child-rearing.
After ten years of following Ed’s lead, Linda decided to reclaim control of her life and pursue her dreams. She studied acting before landing her big break as Sue Ellen Ewing in the long-running CBS soap opera “Dallas.”
Linda’s emotional strength was required to play Sue Ellen Ewing, the drunken wife of oil millionaire JR Ewing, who was an ongoing source of pain for young viewers due to her character’s heavy drinking and promiscuous behavior. Despite this, Linda worked tirelessly on the show for more than six years before leaving in 1989 to pursue other projects.
Linda Gray played Sue Ellen in the popular television series “Dallas” with a hidden agenda: to heal her past wounds and ensure that she did not suffer the same fate as some women she had known. She was explicitly attempting to avoid becoming depressed or lonely, as her mother and Sue Ellen had.
Linda decided at the age of forty that it was time to seek professional help to deal with the events of her life. She saw a therapist, who advised her to establish boundaries with her mother.
To begin, this entailed telling her not to call when she was drunk. Linda initially resisted but eventually discovered that this approach yielded positive results.
This experience taught Linda how to set boundaries not only with her mother but also with her ex-husband, which she would not have been able to do without taking on Sue Ellen’s role.
As it turned out, playing this role allowed Linda to open up about drinking-related traumas and other issues in her mother’s life.
After her father abandoned them, Linda moved to Palm Springs with her mother and cared for her mother in her final years.
Linda Gray played Sue Ellen Ewing, JR Ewing’s ex-wife, in the long-running drama series “Dallas” for over a decade. After divorcing her on-screen husband, she relocated to Malibu and moved in next door to Larry Hagman, her real-life friend, and her husband in “Dallas.”
Linda Gray not only appeared in 12 of the 14 seasons of “Dallas,” but also reprised her role in a few reboots from 2012 to 2014. Critics praised her performance, and she received two Golden Globe nominations and one Emmy nomination. Throughout this time, she remained a fan favorite for her role as JR’s ex-wife.
As Sue Ellen Ewing, Linda provided viewers with moments of both comedy and pathos throughout her career. She struggled with alcoholism, infidelity, and depression, which were portrayed realistically and helped people connect with the character more deeply.
Many viewers saw a side of Linda Gray that they would not have seen otherwise due to these dramatic arcs, which only increased their admiration for this talented actress.