Jim Davis was a silver-haired actor who spent more than 30 years as a performer before attaining stardom as the ruthless patriarch Jock Ewing in TV's "Dallas."
Before the first telecast of "Dallas" aired in 1978, the tall, gravelly voiced actor had made 150 movies and 300 television appearances. His seamed, craggy face was familiar in westerns.
After a few starring roles early in his career opposite Bette Davis and Ann Sothern, he seemed consigned to supporting parts of little note until he became the Texas oil baron Ewing on "Dallas." Then his name became as well known as his face.
Davis was born on Aug. 26, 1915, in Edgerton, Mo. After attending William Jewell College in Liberty, Mo., he worked as a railroad hand and a tent-rigger with a circus before moving to California as an auto company salesman.
A customer who was a talent scout arranged for an MGM screen test. Davis made this with then-newcomer Esther Williams and landed a $250-a-week contract.
His first film was "White Cargo" in 1942.
Other films included "Gallant Bess," "The Fabulous Texan," "Winter Meeting" with Bette Davis, "El Dorado" and "Rio Lobo" with John Wayne and "The Parallax View" with Warren Beatty.
He also appeared in the TV series "The Texas Ranger," "The Cowboys," "Stories of the Century," and "Rescue 8."
But he got his biggest break when he played the patriarch of the back-stabbing, conniving and philandering clan, the subject of the most popular television series in the country, if not something of a national obsession.