LOS ANGELES (CBSDFW.COMAP) — Ken Kercheval, who played the ever-suffering Cliff Barnes to Larry Hagman’s scheming oil baron J.R. Ewing on the hit TV series “Dallas,” has died. He was 83.
Kercheval died Sunday in his native Indiana, said Jeff Fisher, his agent. He said the cause of death was being kept private by family.
He was on “Dallas” for its full run, from 1978 to 1991, and returned as oilman Cliff opposite Hagman for a revival of the prime-time drama that aired from 2012-14.
Kercheval expressed fondness for his beleaguered character, also part of two TV ’90s movies, in a 2012 interview with a “Dallas” fan website, The Dallas Decoder.
Cliff was a nice guy, but with brother-in-law J.R.’s constant battering he had to defend himself, Kercheval said. “If I did something that wasn’t quite right, it’s because I had to,” he added.
Kercheval was born in Wolcottville, Indiana, and raised in Clinton by his father, a physician, and his mother, a nurse. He studied at the University of Indiana and the University of the Pacific, according to profiles.
His early roles were on stage, with Broadway performances in musicals including “The Young Abe Lincoln” in 1961 and “The Apple Tree” and “Cabaret” in the late ’60s.
Kercheval’s big-screen credits included “Pretty Poison” (1968), “The Seven-Ups” in 1973 and “Network” in 1976.
He made frequent guest appearances on TV series, stretching from “Naked City” and “The Defenders” in the 1960s to “ER” and “Diagnosis Murder” in the 1990s and 2000s. His last online credit is for the film “Surviving in L.A.”
In a first-person piece for People magazine in 1994, Kercheval detailed his arduous treatment for lung cancer and advocated that others quit smoking, as he was “99 percent” successful in doing.
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Ken Kercheval – Supremely talented, a wonderful story teller, slyly humorous and always unpredictable. I hope you, Larry & Barbara are throwing a Texas style heavenly party! RIP sweet brother. XO . . . #dallas #dallastvshow #dallasfans #kenkercheval #cliffbarnes #southfork
Actress Victoria Principal posted a picture on Instagram with Kercheval and said, “I hope you, Larry & Barbara [Bel Geddes aka Miss Ellie] are throwing a Texas style heavenly party!”
Kercheval’s survivors include three children, Caleb, Liza and Madison, his agent said.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)