By Michael Osborn
BBC News entertainment reporter
The death of Dallas actress Barbara Bel Geddes has revived memories of what made the all-conquering US soap opera such a success in its heyday.
Bel Geddes played the matriarch of the oil-rich Ewing clan for much of its 13-year run, a family whose exploits kept a worldwide audience glued to their TV sets.
Illness temporarily forced Bel Geddes to quit in 1984, to be replaced for a time by Donna Reed.
The show was met with a lukewarm reception when it first aired in 1978 in the UK and US, but the pivotal family's in-fighting and dastardly deeds became a recipe for compulsive TV viewing.
Their palatial Southfork ranch, fleet of gleaming motor cars and sartorial elegance were a tonic for Britain as it faced a winter of discontent.
But the glamour had a sting in the tail - the Ewings were dysfunctional to the core, and watching this was a treat.
The villain of the piece was Ewing heir JR, who was sly and conniving in business as well as his private life, with a string of lovers leading his long-suffering wife Sue Ellen to the bottle.
His younger brother Bobby was a force for good, but marrying Pamela Barnes - the daughter of his family's sworn enemies - prompted harsh words and the melodrama of divided loyalties.
Barbara Bel Geddes won an Emmy for playing Miss Ellie
The series began as a collection of self-contained storylines, but Dallas truly captured the imagination with the advent of the season cliffhanger.
It left viewers with a gripping unanswered question - and their cue to tune in again for the next series.
In 1981, JR (played by Larry Hagman) was gunned down, leaving us with a series of suspects who felt strong enough to attempt his murder.
According to actress Linda Gray, who played prime suspect Sue Ellen, this was the moment when Dallas entered soap legend and a wider audience.
"It's when everybody - in fact, men - started watching, because men didn't historically watch soap operas," she said.
Subsequent cliffhangers were memorable for all the wrong reasons, such as when Bobby (Patrick Duffy), who had been killed in a car crash, made a hasty return to the show in 1985.
His death turned out to have been nothing but a dream, and he suddenly popped up in the shower one morning.
The end of that season witnessed the death of Pamela (Victoria Principal), and the surge of glitzy rival Dynasty, which became the most-watched US soap.
Dallas may have ended quietly in 1991 with the return of some of the show's original stars, but the DVD release of its first three seasons have served as a reminder of its glory years.