Howard Keel, who lent his good looks and rich baritone to such movie musicals as Seven Brides for Seven Brothers before reinventing himself as the macho star of westerns and later aboard TV's Dallas, died on Sunday, Nov. 7, 2004, of colon cancer at his home in Palm Desert, Calif. He was 85. Keel's size and lusty voice made him an ideal leading man for such stars as Esther Williams ( Pagan Love Song, Texas Carnival, Jupiter's Darling), Ann Blyth (Rose Marie, Kismet), Kathryn Grayson (Show Boat, Lovely to Look At, Kiss Me Kate) and Doris Day (Calamity Jane). His own favorite film was the exuberant Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Keel was in his early 60s and presumably nearing the end of his career when he suddenly became a star in another medium. Dallas in 1978, with its sex, greed and duplicity, was the hottest series on television. Jim Davis, who had played the role of Jock Ewing, died in 1981, and the producers needed another strong presence to stand up to the nefarious J.R. Ewing Jr. (Larry Hagman). They chose Keel. "The show was enormous," Keel reflected in 1995. "I couldn't believe it. My life changed again. From being out of it, I was suddenly a star, known to more people than ever before. Wherever I went, crowds appeared again, and I started making solo albums for the first time in my career." As Clayton Farlow, husband of "Miss Ellie" Ewing, Keel remained with Dallas until it folded in 1991.
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