Jim Davis (August 26, 1909 – April 26, 1981) was an American actor, best known for his role as Jock Ewing in the CBS prime-time soap opera, Dallas, a role which continued until he was too ill from a terminal illness to perform.
Life and career
Born Marlin Davis in Edgerton in Platte County in northwestern Missouri, he attended Baptist-affiliated William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri where he played end on their football team. He served in the United States Coast Guard during World War II.
His first major screen role was opposite Bette Davis in the 1948 melodrama Winter Meeting, a lavish failure for which he was lambasted in the press as being too inexperienced to play the part properly. His subsequent film career consisted of mostly B movies, many of them westerns, although he made an impression as a U.S. senator in the Warren Beatty conspiracy thriller The Parallax View.
In the episode "Little Washington" of the syndicated television series Death Valley Days, Davis portrayed Mark Tabor, a U.S. representative from Nevada with aspirations to become governor of the new state. Collectively, Davis appeared thirteen times on Death Valley Days. In 1965, Davis played an historical figure, the wagon master Ezra Meeker, who is abandoned by members of his wagon train who decided to stop the trip to Oregon instead to prospect for gold in the episode "Devil's Gate". In 1967, Davis was cast as the freighter Luke Campbell of Deadwood, South Dakota, in the episode "The Day They Stole the Salamander", a reference to a Salamander Safe. In 1969, Davis played Colonel William G. Butler (1831-1912), who takes revenge on the since ghost town of Helena, Texas, after its citizens refuse to disclose the killer of Butler's son, Emmett. Butler arranges for the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railway to bypass Helena; instead Karnes City, south of San Antonio, became the seat of government of Karnes County.
From 1954-1955, Davis starred and narrated the syndicated western anthology television series Stories of the Century. He portrayed Matt Clark, a detective for the Southwest Railroad who works to bring notorious gunfighters and outlaws to justice. His costars were Mary Castle and Kristine Miller. Stories of the Century was the first western series to win an Emmy Award. Among the historical figures featured were John Wesley Hardin, Sam Bass, Doc Holliday, the Dalton Brothers, the Younger Brothers, Belle Starr, Joaquin Murietta, L. H. Musgrove, and Clay Allison.
From 1958-1960, Davis starred as Wes Cameron opposite Lang Jeffries in the role of Skip Johnson in the syndicated adventure series Rescue 8. About this time, he guest starred on the syndicated crime drama, U.S. Marshal, starring John Bromfield.
Davis made two guest appearances on Perry Mason; as George Tabor in the season 6 episode of "The Case of the Fickle Filly.", and as murder victim Joe Farrell in the 1964, season 8 episode of "The Case of a Place Called Midnight." He also appeared on the Jack Lord adventure series, Stoney Burke. In 1964, Davis played Wyatt Earp in the episode "After the OK Corral" on Death Valley Days; William Tannen played the part of rancher and gunfighter Ike Clanton in the same episode.
Davis appeared eleven times on Gunsmoke and four times each on Daniel Boone, Wagon Train and Laramie. In the next-to-the-last Laramie episode, entitled "Trapped" (May 14, 1963), he guest starred along with Tommy Sands, Claude Akins, and Mona Freeman. In the story line, Slim Sherman (John Smith) finds an injured female kidnap victim in the woods (Freeman). Dennis Holmes, as series regular Mike Williams, rides away to seek help, but the kidnappers reclaim the hostage. Slim pursues the kidnappers but is mistaken as a third kidnapper by the girl's father (Barton MacLane). Sands plays the girl's boyfriend, who had been ordered by her father to stop seeing her. Davis also appeared in an episode of The High Chaparral and in small roles in the 1971 John Wayne vehicles Rio Lobo (1970) and Big Jake (1971).
In 1974, he starred as Marshal Bill Winter in a short-lived ABC western series The Cowboys, based on a 1972 film of the same name starring John Wayne.
Dallas and last years
After years of relatively low-profile roles, Davis was cast as family patriarch Jock Ewing on Dallas, which debuted in 1978.
During season four, he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma but continued to film the show as long as he could. In many scenes as the season progressed he was shown seated, and his voice became softer and more obviously affected by his illness. He wore a hairpiece to cover the hair he'd lost from chemotherapy. A season four storyline regarding the Takapa development and Jock's separation from Miss Ellie was ended abruptly at the end of season four. The writers depicted the couple suddenly leaving to go on an extended second honeymoon when it became obvious that Davis could no longer continue to work. Their departure in a limousine in the episode "New Beginnings" was Davis' only scene in that episode, and his condition was so poor that close watching reveals (based on his unsynchronized lip movement) that he overdubbed his one last line of dialogue. It was his final appearance on the show. He died of complications from his illness while season four was being aired.
The writers made the decision not to write his death into the Dallas storyline right away. Initially, plans were made to replace him with another actor but were dropped because of audience awareness and because no suitable actor could be found for the role to be recast.
His character remained offscreen for thirteen episodes after Davis' death, with the storyline explaining that Jock was in South America drilling for oil after taking care of Ewing Oil-related legislative business in Washington, D.C. The fifth-season episode "The Search", which confirmed the character's death in a helicopter crash, was broadcast on January 8, 1982 and contained flashback scenes of the character. A portrait of Davis in his role as Jock Ewing often appeared as a memorial on Dallas after his death.
In 1945, Davis wed the former Blanche Hammerer (1918–2009). Their only child, Tara Diane Davis (1953–1970), was killed in an automobile accident at the age of seventeen.
Davis is interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California. For his contribution to the television industry, he has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6290 Hollywood Blvd.
|1942||Keep 'Em Sailing||Joseph Cummins||Short film|
|1942||White Cargo||Seaplane Pilot|
|1942||Stand By for Action||Talker|
|1943||Three Hearts for Julia||Daily Globe Staff Member|
|1943||Pilot ♯5||Military Policeman|
|1943||Salute to the Marines||Private Saunders|
|1943||Swing Shift Maisie||Investigator|
|1945||What Next, Corporal Hargrove?||Sgt. Hill|
|1946||Up Goes Maisie||Matthews|
|1947||The Beginning or the End||Pilot|
|1947||The Romance of Rosy Ridge||Badge Dessark|
|1947||Merton of the Movies||Von Strutt's Assistant|
|1947||The Fabulous Texan||Sam Bass|
|1948||Winter Meeting||Slick Novak|
|1949||Red Stallion in the Rockies||Dave Ryder|
|1949||Yes Sir, That's My Baby||Joe Tascarelli|
|1950||The Savage Horde||Lt. Mike Baker|
|1950||The Cariboo Trail||Miller|
|1950||California Passage||Lincoln Corey|
|1951||Three Desperate Men||Fred Denton|
|1951||Oh! Susanna||Ira Jordan|
|1951||Cavalry Scout||Lt. Spaulding|
|1951||Little Big Horn||Cpl. Doan Moylan|
|1951||Silver Canyon||Wade McQuarrie|
|1951||The Sea Hornet||Tony Sullivan|
|1952||Rose of Cimarron||Willie Whitewater|
|1952||The Big Sky||Streak|
|1952||Woman of the North Country||Steve Powell|
|1952||Ride the Man Down||Red Courteen|
|1953||Bandit Island||Brad Bellows||Short film|
|1953||Woman They Almost Lynched||Cole Younger|
|1953||The President's Lady||Jason Robards|
|1954||The Big Chase||Brad Bellows|
|1954||The Outcast||Major Linton Cosgrave|
|1954||The Outlaw's Daughter||Marshal Dan Porter|
|1954||Hell's Outpost||Sam Horne|
|1955||The Last Command||Ben Evans|
|1955||Last of the Desperados||Chief Deputy John Poe|
|1955||The Vanishing American||Glendon|
|1956||The Bottom of the Bottle||George Cady|
|1956||The Wild Dakotas||Aaron Baring|
|1956||Blonde Bait||Nick Randall|
|1956||The Maverick Queen||The Stranger / Jeff Younger|
|1956||Frontier Gambler||Tony Burton|
|1957||The Quiet Gun||Ralph Carpenter|
|1957||Duel at Apache Wells||Dean Cannary|
|1957||The Badge of Marshal Brennan||Jeff Harlan / The Stranger|
|1957||The Restless Breed||Newton|
|1957||Monster from Green Hell||Dr. Quent Brady|
|1957||Apache Warrior||Ben Ziegler|
|1957||The Last Stagecoach West||Bill Cameron|
|1957||Raiders of Old California||Captain Angus Clyde McKane|
|1958||The Toughest Gun in Tombstone||Johnny Ringo|
|1958||Wolf Dog||Jim Hughes|
|1958||Flaming Frontier||Col. Hugh Carver|
|1958||A Lust to Kill||Marshal Matt Gordon|
|1959||Alias Jesse James||Frank James|
|1960||Noose for a Gunman||Case Britton|
|1960||The Magnificent Seven||Gunman||Uncredited|
|1961||Frontier Uprising||Jim Stockton|
|1961||The Gambler Wore a Gun||Case Silverthorne|
|1964||Iron Angel||Sgt. Walsh|
|1965||Zebra in the Kitchen||Adam Carlyle|
|1966||Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter||Marshal MacPhee|
|1966||El Dorado||Jim Purvis|
|1968||They Ran for Their Lives||Vince Ballard|
|1968||The Road Hustlers||Noah Reedy|
|1969||The Ice House||Jake|
|1970||Five Bloody Graves||Clay Bates|
|1970||Monte Walsh||Cal Brennan|
|1971||Vanished||Capt. Cooledge||TV movie|
|1971||Big Jake||Head of the Lynching Party|
|1971||Dracula vs. Frankenstein||Sgt. Martin|
|1971||The Trackers||Sheriff Naylor||TV movie|
|1972||The Honkers||Sheriff Potter|
|1973||One Little Indian||Trail Boss|
|1973||Deliver Us from Evil||Dixie||TV movie|
|1974||The Parallax View||George Hammond|
|1974||Inferno in Paradise||Rocky Stratton|
|1975||Satan's Triangle||Hal Bancroft||TV movie|
|1975||The Runaway Barge||Capt. Buckshot Bates||TV movie|
|1976||Law of the Land||Sheriff Pat Lambrose||TV movie|
|1977||The Legend of Frank Woods||Deputy|
|1977||Enigma||Colonel Valentine||TV movie|
|1977||Just a Little Inconvenience||Dave Erickson||TV movie|
|1978||Killing Stone||Sen. Barry Tyler||TV movie|
|1978||Comes a Horseman||Julie Blocker|
|1979||The Day Time Ended||Grant|
|1981||Don't Look Back: The Story of Leroy 'Satchel' Paige||Mr. Wilkenson||TV movie|
|1951-1954||Fireside Theater||Col. Streeter
|1952||Dangerous Assignment||Bill Norton
|1952||Gang Busters||Capt. Bob Stewart||Episode: "The Barrow Gang"|
|1952||The Unexpected||Detective||Episode: "Leopards in Lighting"|
|1952-1953||Cowboy G-Men||Tom Owens
Sheriff Jack Wardlow
Dance / Shafer Henchman
|Episode: "Running Iron"
Episode: "Silver Shotgun"
Episode: "Stolen Dynamite"
Episode: "Double Crossed"
|1953-1969||Death Valley Days||Pony Cragin
Col. William Butler
|1954-1955||Stories of the Century||Matt Clark||39 episodes|
|1955||Cavalcade of America||J.L. Armstrong||Episode: "The Texas Rangers"|
|1957||The Millionaire||Jim Driskill||Episode: "The Jim Driskill Story"|
|1957||Playhouse 90||Sheriff||Episode: "Four Women in Black"|
|1957-1958||The Silent Service||Walter Ruhe||Episode: "Boomerang"
Episode: "Cargo for Crevalle"
Episode: "The Sea Devil Attacks Puget Sound"
|Tales of Wells Fargo||Al Porter
|Episode: "Two Cartridges"
Episode: "The Lobo"
Episode: "Don't Wake a Tiger"
|1958||26 Men||Father Diego||Episode: "The Bells of St. Thomas"|
|1958||M Squad||Harry Evans / Mickey Seville||Episode: "The Case of the Double Face"|
|1958-1960||Rescue 8||Wes Cameron||78 episodes|
|General Electric Theater||Fitz
|Episode: "The Castaway"
Episode: "Journey to a Wedding"
|1959||U.S. Marshal||Harvey Granger||Episode: "Federal Agent"|
|1959||Yancy Derringer||Bullet Pike||Episode: "Two Tickets to Promontory"|
|1960||Markham||Neal Holland||Episode: "The Snowman"|
|1960||The Tall Man||Bob Orringer||Episode: "Forty-Dollar Boots"
Episode: "The Lonely Star"
|Episode: "Trail Drive"
Episode: "Shadow of the Past"
Episode: "The Dispossessed"
|Wagon Train||Gabe Henry
|Episode: "The Candy O'Hara Story"
Episode: "The Eve Newhope Story"
Episode: "The Jim Whitlow Story"
Episode: "The Melanie Craig Story"
Episode: "The Guest of Honor
|1961||The Deputy||Trace Phelan||Episode: "The Lonely Road"|
|1961||COronado 9||Barton Kincaid||Episode: "Gone Goose"|
|1961||Outlaws||Steed||Episode: "The Brothers"|
|1961||Gunslinger||Jeb Crane||Episode: "New Savannah"|
|1961||The Aquanauts||Sam Hogarth||Episode: "The Diana Adventure"|
|1961||Whispering Smith||Sam Chandler||Episode: "The Homeless Wind"|
|Episode: "The Gift"
Episode: "Lothario Larkin"
Episode: "The Arrival of Eddie"
|1962||Thriller||The Marshal||Episode: "'Til Death Do Us Part"|
|1962||Lassie||Ed Bates||Episode: "Quick Brown Fox"|
|1962||Stoney Burke||Shep Winters||Episode: "Cousin Eunice"|
|1962||Have Gun – Will Travel||Al Long||Episode: "The Treasure"|
|Perry Mason||George Tabor
|Episode: "The Case of the Fickle Filly"
Episode: "The Case of a Place Called Midnight"
|Rawhide||Sheriff Sam Jason||Episode: "The Greedy Town"
Episode: "The Pursuit"
|1963||The Donna Reed Show||Red||Episode: "Pioneer Woman"|
|1963||Alcoa Premiere||Tim||Episode: "Jenny Ray"|
|1964||The Littlest Hobo||Danny Kilgarren||Episode: "Double-Cross"|
|1965||The Lucy Show||Cardenas||Episode: "Lucy Goes to Vegas"|
|1965||Laredo||Sheriff Wes Cottrell||Episode: "The Golden Trail"|
|Episode: "One Way Out"
Episode: "Salute the Soldier Briefly"
Episodes: "The Assassins: Part 1 & 2"
|1966||The Time Tunnel||Col. Jim Bowie||Episode: "The Alamo"|
|Episode: "River Passage"
Episode: "The Ordeal of Israel Boone"
Episode: "A Pinch of Salt"
Episode: "The Road to Freedom"
|1967||Hondo||Krantz||Episode: "Hondo and the Eagle Claw"
Episode: "Hondo and the War Cry"
Episode: "Hondo and the War Hawks"
|1967||Cimarron Strip||Clo Vardeman||Episode: "The Search"|
|1968||The Guns of Will Sonnett||Sheriff Hawks||Episode: "The Warriors"|
|Episode: "The Heritage"
Episode: "The Politician"
|1970||The High Chaparral||Robbins||Episode: "New Hostess in Town"|
|1972||Night Gallery||Abe Bennett||Episode: "The Waiting Room"|
|1972||The Bold Ones: The New Doctors||Peter Merlino||Episode: "Discovery at Fourteen"|
|1972||The Sixth Sense||Anson Beige||Episode: "Echo of a Distant Scream"|
|1972||The F.B.I.||Ellis Bengston||Episode: "The Runner"|
|1972||The Wonderful World of Disney||Col. Porter||Episode: "The High Flying Spy" Part 1|
|1973||Cannon||Henry Rawdon||Episode: "The Seventh Grave"|
|1973||Kung Fu||Joe Walker
|Episode: "The Soul is the Warrior"
Episode: "The Well"
|1973||Banacek||Ed McKay||Episode: "If Max is So Smart, Why Doesn't He Tell Us Where He Is?"|
|The Streets of San Francisco||Reid Bradshaw
|Episode: "Shattered Image"
Episode: "The Hard Breed"
|1974||The Cowboys||Marshal Bill Winter||12 episodes|
|1975||Caribe||David Mayfield||Episode: "Lady Killer"|
|1976||The Blue Knight||Daniels||Episode: "Death Echo"|
|1976||The Quest||Marshal Pulman||Episode: "Prairie Woman"|
|1977||The Oregon Trail||J.D. Price||Episode: "Evan's Vendetta"|
|1977||Hunter||Raymond Spencer||Episode: "The Hit"|
|1978||Project U.F.O.||Earl Clay||Episode: "Sighting 4002: The Joshua Flats Incident"|
|1979||The Wonderful World of Disney||Pop Apling||Episode: "Trail of Danger" Parts 1 & 2|
|1978-1981||Dallas||Jock Ewing||Series regular; 77 episodes|