Jim Davis (actor)

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Jim Davis
Jim Davis Winter Meeting.jpg
Jim Davis in Winter Meeting (1948).
Born Marlin Jim Davis
(1909-08-26)August 26, 1909
Edgerton, Platte County
Missouri, U.S.
Died April 26, 1981(1981-04-26) (aged 71)
Northridge, Los Angeles
California, U.S.
Cause of death
Resting place
Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California
Years active 1942-1981
Spouse(s) Blanche Hammerer (married 1945-1981, his death)
Children Tara Diane Davis (1953-1970; predeceased her father)

Marlin Jim Davis (August 26, 1909 – April 26, 1981) was an American actor, best known for his role as Jock Ewing in the CBS prime-time soap opera, Dallas, a role which continued until he was too ill from a terminal illness to perform.

Life and career[edit]

Born as Marlin Jim Davis in Edgerton in Platte County in northwestern Missouri, he attended Baptist-affiliated William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri.

His first major screen role was opposite Bette Davis in the 1948 melodrama Winter Meeting, a lavish failure for which he was lambasted in the press as being too inexperienced to play the part properly. His subsequent film career consisted of mostly B movies, many of them westerns, although he made an impression as a U.S. senator in the Warren Beatty conspiracy thriller The Parallax View.

In the episode "Little Washington" of the syndicated television series Death Valley Days, Davis portrayed a U.S. representative from Nevada with aspirations to become governor of the new state. Collectively, Davis appeared ten times on Death Valley Days.

From 1954-1955, Davis starred and narrated the syndicated western anthology television series Stories of the Century. He portrayed Matt Clark, a detective for the Southwest Railroad who works to bring notorious gunfighters and outlaws to justice. His costars were Mary Castle and Kristine Miller. Stories of the Century was the first western series to win an Emmy Award. Among the historical figures featured were John Wesley Hardin, Sam Bass, Doc Holliday, the Dalton Brothers, the Younger Brothers, Belle Starr, Joaquin Murietta, L. H. Musgrove and Clay Allison.

From 1958-1960, Davis starred as Wes Cameron opposite Lang Jeffries in the role of Skip Johnson in the syndicated adventure series Rescue 8. About this time, he guest starred on the syndicated crime drama, U.S. Marshal, starring John Bromfield.

Davis made two guest appearances on Perry Mason; as George Tabor in the season 6 episode of "The Case of the Fickle Filly.", and as murder victim Joe Farrell in the 1964, season 8 episode of "The Case of a Place Called Midnight." He also appeared on the Jack Lord adventure series, Stoney Burke. In 1964, Davis, not Hugh O'Brian, played Wyatt Earp in the episode "After the OK Corral" of the syndicated western anthology series, Death Valley Days; William Tannen played the part of rancher and gunfighter Ike Clanton in the same episode.

Davis appeared eleven times on Gunsmoke and four times each on Daniel Boone, Wagon Train and Laramie. In the next-to-the-last Laramie episode, entitled "Trapped" (May 14, 1963), he guest starred along with Tommy Sands, Claude Akins, and Mona Freeman.[1] In the story line, Slim Sherman (John Smith) finds an injured female kidnap victim in the woods (Freeman). Dennis Holmes, as series regular Mike Williams, rides away to seek help, but the kidnappers reclaim the hostage. Slim pursues the kidnappers but is mistaken as a third kidnapper by the girl's father (Barton MacLane). Sands plays the girl's boyfriend, who had been ordered by her father to stop seeing her.[2] He also appeared in an episode of High Chaparral and in small roles in the 1971 John Wayne vehicles Rio Lobo (1970) and Big Jake (1971).

In 1974, he starred as Marshal Bill Winter in a short-lived ABC western series The Cowboys, based on a 1972 film of the same name starring John Wayne.

Dallas and last years[edit]

After years of relatively low-profile roles, Davis was cast as family patriarch Jock Ewing on Dallas, which debuted in 1978.

During season four, he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma but continued to film the show as long as he could. In many scenes as the season progressed, he was shown seated. He wore a hairpiece to cover the hair he'd lost from chemotherapy. A season four storyline regarding the Takapa development and Jock's separation from Miss Ellie was ended abruptly at the end of season four. The writers depicted the couple leaving to go on an extended second honeymoon (their departure in a limousine in the episode "New Beginnings" was Davis's only scene in that episode and his final appearance on the show) when it became obvious that Davis could no longer continue to work. He died of complications from his illness while season four was being aired.

The writers made the decision not to write his death into the Dallas storyline right away. Initially, plans were made to replace him with another actor but were dropped because of audience awareness and because no suitable actor could be found for the role to be recast.

His character remained offscreen for thirteen episodes after Davis' death, with the storyline that he was in South America drilling for oil after taking care of Ewing Oil-related legislative business in Washington, D.C. The fifth season episode "The Search", which confirmed the character's death in a helicopter crash, was broadcast on January 8, 1982 and contained flashback scenes of the character.[3][4] A portrait of Davis in his role as Jock Ewing often appeared as a memorial on Dallas after his death.

From the late 1970s until his death, Davis was also a voice actor, in the commercials for the American Beef Council, voicing the slogan "Beef: It's what's for dinner". He was replaced by Robert Mitchum.[citation needed]

In 1945, Davis wed his wife, the former Blanche Hammerer (1918-2009); their only child, Tara Diane Davis (1953–1970), was killed in an automobile accident at the age of seventeen.[5][6]

Davis, a cancer victim, is interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California. For his contribution to the television industry, he has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6290 Hollywood Blvd.

Partial filmography[edit]


  1. ^ "Laramie: "Trapped", May 14, 1963". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved September 23, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Laramie: "Trapped", May 14, 1963". tv.com. Retrieved September 23, 2012. 
  3. ^ Episode Guide Ultimate Dallas web site
  4. ^ [1] Dallas Jim Davis 1909-1981
  5. ^ Jim Davis, NNDB. Retrieved November 25, 2012.
  6. ^ Tara Diane Davis, Find a Grave. Retrieved November 25, 2012.

External links[edit]