Gayle Hunnicutt, the actress best known for playing Vanessa Beaumont on Dallas, has died at 80. Her ex-husband, journalist Simon Jenkins, confirmed to EW that she died of an unspecified illness on Aug. 31 at a hospital in London.
McCarthy/Daily Express/Getty Images Gayle Hunnicutt
Hunnicutt, who was born in Fort Worth, Tex., famously portrayed the mother of J.R. Ewing's (Larry Hagman) illegitimate son during the final three seasons of the hit series. She appeared in 13 episodes between 1989 and 1991.
By that point, however, Hunnicutt had appeared in a number of notable projects. She made her TV debut in 1966 on Mister Roberts and went on to appear on shows like Get Smart, The Beverly Hillbillies, and Hey, Landlord. Her early film work included the noir Marlowe opposite James Garner, as well as Target and Eye of the Cat.
In the late '60s, Hunnicutt married English actor David Hemmings as he was coming off the success of Michelangelo Antonioni's Blow-Up. She began working regularly in British TV, films, and theater, including roles in horror films like Fragment of Fear and Voices, where she appeared opposite Hemmings. She also had a leading role in The Legend of Hell House, starring alongside Roddy McDowell.
After a divorce from Hemmings, Hunnicutt married Jenkins in the late 1970s. The following decade saw Hunnicutt appearing on iconic shows like The Love Boat, Taxi, Fantasy Island, and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes before eventually landing her role on Dallas.
Her acting career continued into the 1990s, with scattered appearances on shows such as Tales From the Crypt and CI5: The New Professionals. In 2009, she and Jenkins divorced. She is survived by her sons, Nolan and Edward, as well as five grandchildren.
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