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Ken Kercheval, who is remembered for playing J.R. Ewing’s rival Cliff Barnes both on the original version of “Dallas” on CBS and the recent remake on TNT, died in his Indiana hometown on April 21, according to a local funeral home. He was 83 and he passed away of complications from pneumonia.
Besides Larry Hagman as J.R., Kercheval was the only actor to appear on all 13 seasons of original version, which aired from 1978 to 1981. Kercheval was also a primary suspect on the classic “Who Shot J.R.?” third season finale.
After a stint at the University of Indiana, Kercheval began training as an actor in the mid-1950s at The Neighborhood Playhouse in New York City, making his Broadway debut in the 1962 play “Something About a Soldier.” Multiple theater roles followed, including in “Cabaret” and, in 1966, as the title character in the original Broadway production of “Fiddler on the Roof.”
His first TV roles were in soap operas such as “Search for Tomorrow,” “The Secret Storm” and “How to Survive a Marriage.” His film credits included “The Seven-Ups” with Roy Scheider plus “F.I.S.T.” with Sylvester Stallone.
Kercheval also traveled the guest star route in TV series such as “Kojak,” “Starsky & Hutch,” “L.A. Law,” “Crossing Jordan,” and “ER.”
In 1985, he became a partner in the Old Capital Popcorn Company. The business thrived at first but the partnership soured in 1988. The financial issues and other conflicts led to a 1989 armed rampage and suicide on the “Dallas “set by one of the partners.
Kercheval had five children from three marriages, all of which ended in divorce. As of 2012, he had six grandchildren.