Fledgling soap Dallas, which had begun as a mini-series in 1978, suddenly peaked in 1980. In a sudden change of plan when two extra episodes were required, Dallas executives decided that JR was going to be shot for the end of season cliffhanger, and the identity of the person behind the gun was going to remain a mystery until the next season's episodes began.
The shooting episode was to be screened in England on 26 May, and by then interest was at fever pitch...
Daily Mirror, 26/5/1980:
Smooth-talking DJ Terry Wogan was almost speechless yesterday after being named a suspect in the JR shooting.
Terry, as every radio listener knows, simply hates the Mr Nasty of BBC TV's "Dallas" series.
And as "Dallas" fever swept the country over the weekend bookies started laying odds that it is Terry's finger on the trigger when JR gets his comeuppance in tonight's programme.
Hot favourite to do what millions of viewers have been itching to do is Lusty Dusty at 2-1. He's the ex-lover of JR's wife, Sue Ellen, and was believed to have died in an air crash.
Sue Ellen is a good tip at 3-1. Kristin, a former mistress, is a 4-1 shot.
A business rival of JR's - Cliff Barnes - is 7-1.
JR's brother, Bobby, is at 10-1. Lucy Ewing, Pam Ewing and Miss Ellie all 12-1. Jock Ewing and Vaughn Leland are 14-1.
And Terry? He's a rank outsider... at 1,000-1.
An estimated eighteen million viewers will see the man-they-love-to-hate gunned down and critically wounded by an unseen attacker tonight.
But even the scriptwriters haven't decided on the culprit - and filming on the next series doesn't begin until next month.
Inside the same newspaper was this article by Hilary Kingsley:
At last, nasty old JR gets his comeuppance. He is shot tonight and his face twists with astonishment.
But save those cheers. JR, played with such magnificent malice by Larry Hagman in "Dallas" (BBC-1, 8.10) lives to smirk his way through a new series in the autumn.
So whodunnit? No one knows. Not even JR.
A spokesman for Lorimar Productions, where security is almost as tight as at the White House, said: "Only the two writers for the series know who pulled the trigger - even the suspects don't know."
And there's a gang of suspects. They are:
SUE ELLEN (Linda Gray), JR's alcoholic wife, who is probably the favourite.
CLIFF BARNES (Ken Kercheval), JR's life-long enemy.
KRISTIN (Mary Crosby), who screams "I'll kill him" when JR has her arrested on a prostitution charge.
Her fellow blackmailer ALAN BEAM (Randolph Powell).
And, intriguingly, JR's nice but weedy brother BOBBY (Patrick Duffy), who is sickened by his brother's plotting.
But my money is firmly on an outsider - the grief-stricken widow of double-crossed businessman Seth Stone.
Finally we got to see the episode. Old JR was working late at the office when he heard a sound... was he alone? Then we saw somebody holding a gun and...
During the summer of 1980, "WHO SHOT JR?" and "I SHOT JR" T-shirts, stetsons, badges and car stickers abounded.
-Patrick Duffy, the actor who played Bobby, had previously found fame as The Man From Atlantis, and the last part of the song was a reference to that.
J.R. Ewing, that cunning, conniving TV tycoon, was revealed as just a dummy yesterday.
His spittin' image was proudly unveiled at Madame Tussaud's waxworks in London. And Larry Hagman, who plays the sneaky oilman in "Dallas", was the first to have a look.
Hagman (Mark One) recognised the guy on the left immediately, if only by his J.R. stetson.
Like the actor, the waxwork remained tight-lipped about the show's big question: Who shot J.R.?
But Hagman aims to provide an answer to the BBC's financial problems.
He will appear on posters promoting TV licence stamps and emphasising the value that viewers get from the Beeb. The caption: "Trust me. Would I steer you wrong?"
Hagman gave his services free. Don't tell J.R.
Mary Crosby, daughter of Bing, as Sue Ellen's sister Kristin, was the black hearted hussy.
Doesn't it make you want to weep?