Longtime Actress Who Starred In ‘Dallas’ And With James Garner In ‘Marlowe’ Dies At 80

Gayle Hunnicutt, the actress known for her role as English aristocrat Vanessa Beaumont in the hit series “Dallas,” has passed away at the age of 80.

She died on August 31, 2023 at a London hospital due to an unspecified illness, as confirmed by her ex-husband, journalist Simon Jenkins, to The Washington Post. While the exact cause of her death remains unknown, her legacy in the world of entertainment and her impact on both television and film continue to be celebrated.

Hunnicutt is survived by her two sons, Edward and Nolan, the latter being known for his role in the acclaimed series “Band of Brothers.” She also leaves behind five grandchildren: Poppy, Theo, Oscar, Dash and Nia, who will undoubtedly carry on her memory.

One of the highlights of Hunnicutt’s career was her portrayal of Vanessa Beaumont in “Dallas,” where she captivated audiences with her performance alongside Larry Hagman during the final three seasons of the iconic series. Her remarkable talent and beauty made her a standout figure in the entertainment industry.

Hunnicutt’s career extended beyond the series, showcasing her versatility as an actress. She starred in various productions, including “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes,” “Fall of Eagles,” “The Golden Bowl” and “The Return of the Saint,” leaving a lasting impression with each role she undertook.

Beyond her acting prowess, Hunnicutt was always admired for her elegance and charm. She once expressed her desire to resemble the iconic Audrey Hepburn, reflecting her appreciation for timeless beauty and style.

Throughout her personal life, Hunnicutt was married twice. Her first husband was David Hemmings, who she met at a party hosted by Rat Pack actor Peter Lawford. Their had their son Nolan before getting divorced in 1974. In 1978, Hunnicutt then married journalist and editor Sir Simon Jenkins, and had another son named Edward.

Hunnicutt’s upbringing in Fort Worth, Texas, with her parents, Sam and Virginia, emphasized academic excellence. Despite her early ambition to become an actress, her parents emphasized education, leading her to earn a scholarship to the University of California in Los Angeles, where she studied English Literature and Theatre.

It was at the University of California that Hunnicutt was discovered by a Warner Brothers agent while participating in a stage production. This marked the beginning of her remarkable journey in the entertainment industry. Her television debut occurred at the age of 23 in 1966, when she appeared in the naval comedy ‘Mister Roberts,’ produced by Warner Brothers.

Hunnicutt was not only an accomplished actress but also a published author. In 1984, she wrote a book titled “Health and Beauty in Motherhood.” Two decades later, she released “Dearest Virginia,” a heartwarming collection of her father’s love letters, which he wrote while serving in the South Pacific during World War II.

Hunnicutt’s passing marks the end of a remarkable career and artistic contributions, leaving behind a legacy that will alwas be remembered in the world of entertainment.

Were you a Gayle Hunnicutt fan? What do you remember her most by?