Born in Montana in 1949, actor Patrick Duffy is best known for playing Bobby Ewing on the hit drama Dallas (1978-85). He landed the role after starring on the 1976 sci-fi television series Man From Atlantis. In 1986, Duffy returned to Dallas for another six years, pausing briefly to take a personal leave after his parents were tragically murdered during a robbery. He later starred on the 1990s sitcom Step by Step and reprised the role of Ewing for a 2012 Dallas reboot.
Patrick Duffy was born on March 17, 1949, in Townsend, Montana. Although he has played many other roles, Duffy will always be remembered for his portrayal of Bobby Ewing on the hit primetime drama Dallas.
Duffy grew up in a small town in Montana, where his parents ran a tavern and struggled to make ends meet. After high school, Duffy enrolled at the University of Washington, where he studied drama and graduated in 1971.
Duffy eventually moved to Los Angeles, California, where he subsequently spent several years trying to make it as an actor. His big break came in 1976, when he landed the lead part on the science-fiction series Man From Atlantis. At the time, Duffy was cash-strapped. "I didn't have enough money to buy a swimming suit, so I had to do it in my underwear," he later told People magazine of his audition for the series.
On the show, Duffy played Mark Harris, a being from the lost continent of Atlantis who was discovered unconscious on a beach by a research scientist. While he looked human, Harris had webbed hands and feet. He could only spend a certain amount of time out of the water before returning to breathe. The show only lasted a season, airing from the fall of 1977 to the following spring.
Bobby Ewing in 'Dallas'
Following Man From Atlantis, Duffy quickly assumed his most famous role of good guy Bobby Ewing on Dallas, a drama centered around a wealthy Texas family. Jim Davis and Barbara Bel Geddes played the Ewing family patriarch and matriarch, Jock and Miss Ellie. Larry Hagman played his ruthless older brother, J.R., and Linda Gray played J.R.'s long-suffering wife, Sue Ellen. In addition to sibling rivalry, the show featured the ups and downs of Ewing's relationship with his wife, Pamela (played by Victoria Principal).
While not an immediate hit, Dallas eventually became one of primetime's top shows and a pop-culture sensation. At the end of the 1979-80 season, audiences nationwide wondered, "Who Shot J.R.?" after the show's villain was attacked by an unknown assailant. By 1985, despite the show's popularity, Duffy had become tired of always playing the nice guy, even publicly describing his character as "boring." He left the series in search of more adventurous lead parts, and at the end of that season, Ewing was killed off the show—or so viewers thought.
After Duffy's departure, Dallas took a dive in ratings. Not long after, in 1986, Duffy was convinced to return to the show and his character. The show's writers explained Ewing's disappearance with a now-famous shower scene where he reappeared, revealing that his demise had been "only a dream"—while this tactic was not popular with everyone, it has become a noted part of TV history.
Not long after returning to Dallas, Duffy suffered a great personal tragedy: His parents, Terrence and Babe, were killed during a robbery attempt at their tavern in Boulder, Montana. Out of respect for Duffy and acknowledging the gravity of the incident, the series' production was briefly paused.
Starring in 'Step by Step'
Dallas finally ended in 1991, following 10 seasons. Without skipping a beat, Duffy went on to star alongside Suzanne Somers on Step by Step, a popular situation comedy about a blended family. The characters each had three children from previous relationships, but were polar opposites offering up lots of punchlines. While it was fairly light fare, the show proved to be popular, lasting for seven years.
Since that time, Duffy has made guest appearances on numerous TV series, including Touched by an Angel and Reba. In 2006, he began performing on the daytime drama The Bold and the Beautiful.
Return to 'Dallas'
Duffy, along with fellow original cast members of Dallas Linda Gray and Larry Hagman, reprised his for a TV reboot of the series in 2012. In the new version of Dallas, Ewing was given a new wife, played by Brenda Strong, and a son, played by Jesse Metcalfe. His feud with villainous brother J.R., played by Larry Hagman, continued on the new series. On his official website, Duffy wrote of the new Dallas: "I can't be happier with everything concerned with the show. First and foremost the fact that I get to work with my two best friends, Larry and Linda, once again."
Sadly, in November 2012, just months after the new Dallas debuted, Hagman died of complications from cancer. Duffy tweeted about his onscreen brother's death: "My friend is taking a break ... Love Patrick."
Around this same time, Duffy began writing a trilogy of sci-fi books based on Man from Atlantis.
Duffy married to his wife, Carlyn (Rosser) Duffy, in 1974. The couple has two children, Padraic and Conor. Carlyn passed away in 2017.
We strive for accuracy and fairness. If you see something that doesn't look right, contact us!