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Dack Rambo; Played Jack Ewing in ‘Dallas’

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Dack Rambo, television actor best known for his role as Jack Ewing, cousin of the notorious J.R. on the popular series “Dallas,” has died. He was 53.

Rambo died Monday at Delano Regional Medical Center near the San Joaquin town of Earlimart, where he grew up, and where he had a ranch.

He had resigned from his last role, as congressman Grant Harrison on NBC’s daytime soap opera “Another World” in 1991, saying that he had tested positive for HIV and wanted to become a spokesman for AIDS patients.

“I feel so much better today having gone public with being HIV-positive. It’s like freedom to me,” he told The Times in an interview shortly after that resignation.

He described himself in the interview as being bisexual and said he had felt the onus of suspicion about being gay and vulnerable to AIDS when he appeared on “Dallas.” That was from 1985 to 1987, at a time when the entertainment industry was awakening to the dangers of AIDS.

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“I knew there were whispers going on behind my back. Either ‘he’s gay’ or ‘he’s this or. . . .’ And I thought: ‘What the hell did I do?’ ” the handsome actor said in 1991. “People were just assuming. And people didn’t really know anything about my private life.”

Although leaving “Another World” was his decision, Rambo said he did so because he saw few employment opportunities in acting for people who were HIV-positive.

Born Norman Rambeau, Rambo and his identical twin brother, Dirk, grew up on a San Joaquin Valley farm. They were discovered by Loretta Young, who saw them sitting in church. She cast them in her prime-time television series “The New Loretta Young Show,” and the twins were an instant hit with teen-agers.

They later sang as the Rambo Twins, styling themselves after the Everly Brothers. But the act ended when Dirk was killed in an automobile accident in 1967.

Dack Rambo went on to act, taking the role of Walter Brennan’s grandson in the television series “The Guns of Will Sonnett,” and the role of Steve Jacobi in “All My Children.”

Despite his success in Hollywood, Rambo remained true to his roots. “I guess if I did anything else other than act,” he once said, “I’d be a rancher.”


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