Entertainment
Celebrity Then And Now
Publication: Albany Daily News. Posted by Lexi Schwartz
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Entertainment
Celebrity Then And Now
Publication: Albany Daily News.
Posted by Lexi Schwartz
social
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“I don’t have muscle tone. I’m just flab.” Charlene Tilton is an actress and singer who will always be remembered for stirring up trouble as J.R. Ewing Jr.’s niece, Lucy, on the long-running television series, Dallas. Appearing in 246 of the show’s 357 total episodes, Tilton became a star on primetime television and made cameos in popular series like Laverne & Shirley, Fantasy Island, The Love Boat, Saturday Night Live and Murder, She Wrote before wrapping up Dallas for good in 1991. Taking home numerous awards for her stint on the show, Tilton made cameos in Married… with Children and a string of made-for-television movies but never rekindled her Dallas fame until 2012 when the 4’11” star reprised her role for TNT’s Dallas reunion. Since wrapping up the reunion series in 2014, let’s drop in on the now 58-year-old Tilton to see how she launched her career and what her plans are next!

In 1978, the 19-year-old Tilton caught a huge break when she read an article in Drama Log about a new series called Dallas. Instantly feeling a connection to the character of Lucy who was described as a “manipulative little sex pot,” Tilton knew she wanted to audition for the part. “I read the synopsis of the show and the description of the character and when I read Lucy I said, ‘That’s my part. I have to play her.’ So, I snuck in because they wouldn’t see me, so I snuck in everyday for two weeks until I finally got the part,” Tilton said.

Landing the part, Tilton was among the youngest on set and developed her acting skills alongside professional greats like Larry Hagman, Jim Davis and Barbara Bel Geddes. Her first stint on the series ran from 1978 to 1985 before she left the show to devote more time to raising her child, Cherish Less Dunn, with her husband, country singer Johnny Lee. With their marriage ultimately ending in divorce in 1984, Tilton made her return to Dallas in 1988 and stayed for three seasons before bidding farewell in 1990 with a brief return in the show’s final season in 1991 as a final send-off for Lucy and the rest of the Ewings.

Tilton’s success on Dallas was remarkable with the young star bringing in around $50,000 per episode with over 65 million viewers tuning in to watch Lucy get married on the show. By then, Tilton had appeared on over 500 magazine covers but didn’t truly realize the impact Dallas had until the show’s end in the early 1990s. “We were so busy while we were shooting that it was hard to keep it all together,” Tilton admitted. “I kind of realized after the fact what a success Dallas was, we were so busy doing it, so into it that I didn’t realize how powerful and amazing it was until after it was over.”

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