Dastardly Dudes and Dangerous Divas: Dallas’ Vilest Villains
Now that we know Tommy and Rebecca aren’t siblings, I’m more curious than ever to know what kind of hold he has on her that would make a seemingly nice girl compromise herself so much for his scheme. The scene where Callard Harris, as Tommy, kissed Julie Gonzalo roughly was bone-chilling. The scene called for a dramatic reveal to get us fans to go all OMG, but Tommy was not just making a point. He was exercising his control with the telltale signs of an abusive relationship and I want to know if they were in fact a con-artist couple or if she’s been his puppet all along. Finding out who her parents are may shed some light on their dynamic but we’ll have to wait until the August 8 season finale to learn more. For now, I’m inspired to look back at some of the most memorable villains in Dallas history and the gifted actors who brought them to loathsome life. Make no mistake that I include Tommy in this rogues gallery of baddies.
JEREMY WENDELL (played by William Smithers)
Forget Cliff Barnes. J.R.’s real arch-enemy throughout the years was sourpuss oil baron Jeremy Wendell. Played with a tart flair by character actor William Smithers over the course of 50 episodes between 1981 and 1989 (according to IMDB), Jeremy was the proverbial thorn in J.R.’s side, plotting against him and, on occasion, Cliff, with acidic glee. Jeremy was the gum that J.R. just couldn’t get off the bottom of his cowboy boots and that’s why we loved him. An anti-hero like J.R. Ewing deserves a formidable foe and Jeremy ably filled the bill from his perch atop Westar Oil, which was bigger, stronger and richer than Ewing Oil, but somehow never quite as interesting.
ANGELICA NERO (played by Barbara Carrera)
During the infamous dream season of 1985-1986, nobody chewed the scenery better than veteran film siren Barbara Carrera as the diabolical Greek shipping executive Angelica Nero. The Nicaraguan stunner, who was memorably sexy in films like “The Island of Dr. Moreau,” “I, the Jury” and “Never Say Never Again” brought her bad-girl allure to spice up a Bobby-less Dallas, coming and going in a whirlwind. Introduced in a convoluted plot enmeshing J.R. and his cousin Jack, who looked like Greek shipping magnate Dimitri Marinos, in an international assassination plot, Angelica was bigger than life, even by Dallas standards. Her over-the-top fashions may have been better suited to Dynasty, but at least she wasn’t boring. Whether killing her traitorous henchman Nicholas with a hat pin or booby-trapping J.R.’s office with a bomb, Angelica was one of Dallas’ most creatively dangerous divas. And she was particularly chummy with her hot blonde assistant Grace (played by Merete Van Camp), until she killed her, of course. What was going on there anyway? Hmmm.
B.D. CALHOUN (played by Hunter von Leer)
J.R. has locked horns with a long list of adversaries over the years but no enemy threatened him in such a physical manner as maniacal mercenary B.D. Calhoun, whom J.R. hired for a dirty plot to drive up the price of oil in the 1986-1987 season. Dallas producers were keen to get the show back on a more realistic track after the poorly received detour into glitzy Dynasty-style plotlines of the dream season and shifted storylines back to the manly terrain of oil rigs and shootouts. A mysterious gun for hire with a macho strut, B.D., played by the Nordic-looking actor Hunter von Leer, made his debut with guns blazing. You couldn’t get farther from Nolan Miller gowns than this, folks. J.R. hired B.D. to blow up some oil rigs in the Middle East, getting himself and Ewing Oil in a heap of trouble with the Justice Department. He betrayed B.D. and ended up the prey in a dangerous game of cat and mouse when B.D. came out for revenge. The story culminated in an old-school shoot ’em up between B.D. and J.R. in California, of all places, and put John Ross and Sue Ellen in the line of fire for a few uncomfortable moments, but Bobby and Ray came to J.R.’s rescue once again.
KATHERINE WENTWORTH (played by Morgan Brittany)
My all-time favorite Dallas vixen. She wasn’t the show’s only sinister sister — Sue Ellen and Clayton’s siblings Kristin and Jessica were pretty nutty, too — but boy was she the most persistent. Starting out as a (seemingly) wide-eyed innocent with a cute crush on Bobby, Katherine, in the able hands of Morgan Brittany, slowly morphed into a two-faced praying mantis with a talent for disguises but notoriously bad aim. When Katherine’s plan to win Bobby’s love failed, she tried to kill him so her rivals Pam and Jenna couldn’t have him. Bobby, however, was an annoyingly resilient target. When she took a page out of Kristin’s play book and shot Bobby, he survived, albeit with a temporary case of hysterical blindness. Ever the resourceful psychopath, she snuck into his hospital room and tried to inject him with poison but J.R. and hospital security nabbed her in time. She then jumped bail and fled the country, returning one year later in a blonde wig to run him over with her car (although she was actually aiming for Pam — further proof the gal needed glasses). Katherine died in that accident, too, but victory was ripped from her blood-stained fingernails yet again when the whole thing proved to be Pam’s bad dream. When last seen, she was leaving Dallas Memorial in a big veiled hat, tossed from Pam’s room by an outraged Bobby. Lucky for him she didn’t have any sharp objects on her that time. Morgan rocked as crazy Katherine and has said she based her character’s colorful yet icy look on the wicked queen from Snow White. While Katherine schemed like Eve Harrington from “All About Eve,” her lavender eye shadow and crimson lips were pure Disney devil. I’ve made no secret of my desire for a return appearance by Katherine in the new version of Dallas. Here’s hoping those spooky blue eyes terrorize us again real soon.
Do you have any favorite villains to add to this list?
*Photo of Julie Gonzalo and Callard Harris courtesy of Dallas and TNT.