Former Teacher Doubled For ‘J.R.’
Who shot Ardon "Ace" Moore?
No one in America was asking that question after a hidden assailant put two bullets into J.R. Ewing on the show "Dallas" in one of television's most moments.
But Moore, a Tyler resident, got cau-ght up in the ensuing media frenzy after playing a wou-nded J.R.'s double, hauled away on a stretcher.
It wasn't the only appearance on the show for Moore, a longtime Tyler attorney, and it likely won't be the last, for he has filmed parts for the upcoming continuation of the series on TNT.
Moore, an only child, grew up in Palestine. His father owned a grocery store, while his mother worked as a kindergarten teacher.
"I was born in the back of my folks' little store across from the courthouse," he noted.
He went on to play fullback and middle linebacker for Palestine High School, from which he graduated in 1952. He then served in the aviation branch of the U.S. Navy for the next four years, working as an aircraft mechanic.
"I got my hands real dirty," Moore said. "There were all kinds of aircraft, the earliest jets.
"I'll never forget getting catapulted off the deck of that carrier. That was quite an experience for a Palestine boy."
He also served as a patrolman at Subic Bay, notorious for its danger and seediness.
"All the sailors who have been around the world know about it," he said. "It's a tough spot. It's a tough spot to be a policeman."
After leaving the Navy, he got married and went to Tyler Junior College, where he studied pre-law until 1958 before enrolling in the University of Houston Law Center, from which he earned his degree in December 1962.
The next month, he landed a job with the Smith County District Attorney's Office and moved to Tyler.
Any memorable cases?
"I tried so many cases I don't remember any of them," Moore said.
He credited public exposure from a political run that fell just short of him becoming district attorney for setting him up to set out on his own as a lawyer around 1966.
"It catapulted me into a very early successful law practice," he said, adding that he had an office "right across from the courthouse."
Just before the time that the television series "Dallas" cranked up, Moore was looking for a hobby. He didn't golf, and he had sold his fishing boat.
"They say the two happiest moments in a man's life are when he buys a fishing boat and when he sells the fishing boat," he said. "I was still in law but needed a hobby.
"I had a client who had done some filming in Dallas. He dropped a name to me."
Moore was in Dallas on a legal case and walked into an acting agency one day.
"I was working very hard and needed some lily pad to crawl up on as a hobby," he said.
The agency signed him immediately, and he began working on commercials.
"I couldn't believe I'd get paid for doing something that fun," he said.
The agency then called and asked him to a casting call for a new nighttime soap opera called "Dallas." His first job was to chase Brahma bovine across a pasture on the South Fork Ranch.
He went on to play a variety of bit parts in "Dallas," such as a truck driver sitting in a cafe. Little Lucy, portrayed by Charlene Tilton, was a waitress there, and Moore remembered his line to her: "Hey, honey, bring me a beer."
He also played a detective, but his most famous role was playing a wounded J.R. being carted away on a stretcher, and that led to him becoming a nationwide human-interest story.
"I didn't do anything to deserve the publicity I got," he said, adding that he appeared in newspapers and magazines.
After "Dallas" finished its run, he did countless commercials and had a bit part in the Oliver Stone movie "J.F.K.," allowing the Jack Ruby character to enter the back of a police station.
Recently, Moore got the call to work on the continuation of the "Dallas" series, which is expected to debut this summer.
But the part-time thespian who declined to disclose his age still considers law his full-time passion.
"I've never allowed the showbiz world to interfere with my law world, a profession I've loved for 50 years," said Moore, who has four sons and five grandsons. "I've done every kind of law under the sun, but nowadays I'm confining it to criminal law. That's what I've done without interruption.
"I might film something now if it suits me as a hobby. One thing I never stopped as a hobby is fishing."
Most subjects for this column come from business cards randomly pulled from a briefcase. Send cards to Managing Editor Brian Pearson, 410 E. Erwin St., Tyler, Texas, 75702.