A teenage Dustin Hoffman may be seen admiring a set of legs that depict a woman rolling on black silk stockings in one of the most well-known movie posters from the 1960s. The legs that draw the most attention in the movie are not those of Anne Bancroft in “The Graduate.” Linda Gray is the owner of them.
Everyone initially believed the famed pair of legs belonged to Anne Bancroft, but Linda Gray, a co-star on the CBS serial opera “Dallas,” revealed that they were actually hers.
Linda Gray became famous for her long legs, earning the nickname “the b*tch with the long legs” from Elizabeth Taylor. But who would have guessed that the “Dallas” co-star was paralyzed as a child due to polio?
In 1945, Linda, then five years old, developed polio. The central nervous system and the neurological connections between the brain and the muscles were both reportedly damaged by the virus, according to the actress. She caressed her legs and felt the sensation, but she couldn’t move them.
Gray’s family suffered from the illness, and her mother sought solace in alcohol. She became an alcoholic after being a social drinker. Both of their daughters’ parents were saddened by their daughter’s diagnosis.
Little Linda Gray felt it was her responsibility because of her parents’ depression and her mother’s drinking; in her memoir, “The Road to Happiness Is Always Under Construction,” she claimed she silently carried the burden of the diagnosis.
The traditional therapy for polio back then was iron lungs, an 800-pound airtight metal ventilator. Despite the fact that, as she claims in her book, the sickness had not affected Linda’s lungs, the doctors urged her parents to place Linda in the metal canister.
But her parents made the choice to go to an alternative therapist. She might have sustained even more severe wounds if she had been forced into the iron lugs, which could have damaged her lungs and limbs.
“Raggedy Ann and Andy” was the substitute therapy. While confined to her bed, her mother would stand at the foot of it, hold one leg, lift it, and then lower it again. She performed the exercise on each leg multiple times per day for months.
Linda could walk again after a few months as her legs gradually began to function normally. Her parents decided to enroll her in dance lessons. Everyone gathered to watch her dance in her debut recital because she was “the polio baby plucked from the clutches of paralysis,” as she put it.
Due to family problems and her mother’s alcoholism, Linda wanted to get out of her house as soon as possible. She eventually quit school and started working full-time as a model to support herself. Soon after, she got to know renowned record album cover artist Ed Thrasher.
Ed was abusive and deceptive during their 21-year marriage. He was abusive to his wife and insisted on keeping her at home so he could complete his “To-Do List” instead of going to work.
Cooking, cleaning the house, caring for the animals they co-raised, and looking after their two children were all on the farm wife’s to-do list.
Linda decided to take back control of her life after ten years of doing as he did. After making her transgender acting debut on “All That Glitters,” she was chosen to play Sue Ellen, one of the most significant roles of her career, in the venerable CBS soap opera “Dallas.”
Sue Ellen Ewing, the drunken wife of oil millionaire JR Ewing, caused considerable childhood anguish for the actress:
“By playing Sue Ellen, I hoped to break out of my shell and avoid becoming a depressed, lonely, or hopeless woman like Sue Ellen or my Mom.”
In her forties, the “Dallas” co-star chose to seek professional help. She realized it was time to confront her traumas from her alcoholic mother and other difficulties. The process began when Linda’s therapist suggested she set boundaries with her mother.
Her mother frequently referred to “The Graduate” as a leg-double and would “ramble incoherently.” The therapist advised her to tell her mother not to call her when she was drunk. Linda initially resisted, but the strategy worked.
This initial move served as a springboard for her to learn how to set boundaries with her mother and, later, with her ex-husband.
Linda claimed that Sue Ellen had helped her talk with her mother about her prior traumas and drinking. She relocated to Palm Springs when her father passed away and took care of her mother throughout her final year.
Before divorcing JR Ewing, the actress played Sue Ellen for 11 years. She relocated to Malibu and started residing next door to her “Dallas” actor husband and best friend, Larry Hagman. After her divorce, Linda started a new sexual life:
“My unmarried sexual life has been a source of happiness and pleasure for the past thirty years. You care about orgasm just as much at 75 as you did when you were 25.”
Between 2012 and 2014, Linda Gray appeared in a number of “Dallas” reboots in addition to 12 of the show’s 14 seasons. For her role of JR Ewing’s wife, the actress won two Golden Globe nods and one Emmy nomination.