Flashback Friday: Will Audrey Landers return to Dallas as Afton Cooper?
TV Guide’s article on TNT’s Dallas mentions that there’s a Facebook petition to get Victoria Principal to return as Pamela Ewing. She’s not the only Dallas fave getting support for a return to Southfork, however. There’s also a Facebook page called Bring Audrey Landers Back to Dallas on TNT with a few thousand fans who carry a torch for Cliff Barnes’ loyal songbird Afton Cooper. What’s particularly fascinating about the possibility of Audrey appearing on the new Dallas is that the show’s runners named Julie Gonzalo’s character Rebecca and, as hard-core Dallas fans know, Afton’s love child by Cliff was named Pamela Rebecca in honor of Cliff’s sister and mother, both of whom Afton loved very much. The Internet has been buzzing about this. Is it a clever ploy by producers to hint at yet another twist in the decades-long war between the Ewing and Barnes clans or is it just a lucky coincidence keeping ardent fans — like yours truly — buzzing about the show? In either case, there’s plenty of drama to be mined in a possible return by Audrey. She had an admirably long run on the show while other new characters usually lasted only a season.
Afton arrived on the Dallas scene as a replacement for the dastardly Kristin Shepard, Sue Ellen’s sister and JR’s disgruntled mistress, who had jiggled out of Dallas after firing the shots heard around the world in the iconic “Who Shot JR” cliffhanger. Afton was originally a blonde sex kitten who slipped between the sheets with ole JR during the reception at Lucy Ewing’s marriage to her brother Mitch. Who could forget Sue Ellen discovering the rumpled bedsheets and exclaiming “So, the real JR has finally come home!” This was classic Dallas, folks. As naughty and ambitious as Afton was, she quickly realized that hitching her wagon to JR was a mistake and, in a mindboggling twist, fell for that eternal loser Cliff Barnes. While Cliff was initially attracted to Afton’s connection to JR — even more than her luscious curves — he grew to genuinely love her. Sadly, Cliff’s petty insecurities and selfishness ruined what they had. His mother Rebecca Wentworth and sister Pam recognized that Afton was the best thing to happen to him but he didn’t appreciate her. Afton’s bombshell appearance hid a highly intuitive nature and she could smell a snake from a mile away. She had uncanny premonitions about JR’s constant schemes against Cliff and was the first to warn Pam that her wicked half-sister Katherine Wentworth was trying to steal Bobby. Afton left town after the Dallas writers ran out of ideas for her and ushered in model Mandy Winger as Cliff and JR’s next plaything, but she returned a few years later to reveal that she and Cliff had a daughter. She also appeared in the 1996 reunion movie Dallas: JR Returns. Afton owes JR for having her put in a sanitarium in that movie, so it’s quite plausible that she would return to cause him some trouble in his golden years. Perhaps she’s a successful entertainment mogul and this time around she sets her sights on Bobby, who’s still looking mighty viril. I always suspected Afton had a little crush on Bobby and maybe she can give his new wife Ann a run for her money. After all, what’s a blonde bombshell good for if she’s not stirring up mischief?
UPDATE: Click here to read my fun new interview with Audrey Landers to catch up with “Afton” and get her take on the new show!