Who is Charlene Tilton?
Charlene L. Tilton is an American actress who gained fame for portraying Lucy Ewing in CBS’ primetime soap opera ‘Dallas’. She is also a singer. In 1984, she put out the popular single ‘C'est La Vie’. A native of California, she grew up in an impoverished family with a mentally ill mother. In later years, her ‘Dallas’ co-star Larry Hagman would become a surrogate father figure. In 1976, she made her TV debut in an episode of ‘Happy Days’. That year, she also appeared in her first feature film, ‘Freaky Friday’. She played Lucy Ewing in ‘Knots Landing’ and the 2012 version of ‘Dallas’ as well. Active in the industry for four decades, Tilton has accumulated over 60 film and TV credits in her career. Known for her platinum blonde hair, stark blue eyes, and voluptuous figure, Tilton has also appeared in films like ‘Problem Child 2’, ‘The Silence of the Hams’, and ‘Superhero Movie’. For her performance as Ewing, Tilton has won the Young Artist Award for Best Juvenile Actress in a TV Series or Special in 1979, Young Artist Award Former Child Star Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001, and TV Land Pop Culture Award in 2006.
Childhood & Early Life
Born on December 1, 1958, in San Diego, California, Charlene Tilton is the daughter of a secretary named Katherine Thacker. She did not know the identity of her biological father as she was growing up.
Her mother had several financial issues and was not mentally stable. As a student of Hollywood High school, Tilton was a varsity cheerleader and the President of the Thespians' Club.
She became acquainted with Larry Hagman (1931–2012) while she was a high school student and later landed the role of Lucy Ewing, the confused niece of Hagman’s character, J.R. Ewing, in the series ‘Dallas.’
The two developed amazing on- and off-screen chemistry, which was evident in the scenes in which they acted together. Their real-life relationship developed into something wonderful as well. Tilton, who had grown up without a father, found a surrogate father-figure in her Uncle Larry.
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Charlene Tilton was a teenager when she landed her first acting job, in a season four episode of ‘Happy Days’. She then starred alongside Jodie Foster’s Barbara Harris in the 1976 cinematic rendition of ‘Freaky Friday’. In 1978, she appeared in two films ‘Sweater Girls’ and ‘Big Wednesday’.
In the 1990 western ‘Border Shootout’, Tilton worked with Glenn Ford and Michael Ansara. She shared screen space with John Ritter and Laraine Newman in ‘Problem Child 2’ (1991).
She was cast as Jane Wine in the 1994 Italian-American satirical comedy ‘The Silence of the Hams’. In the superhero spoof comedy ‘Superhero Movie’ (2008), she played Jill’s mother. Her most recent big screen appearance was in the 2017 action-thriller ‘Vengeance: A Love Story’.
On February 21, 1981, she served as the guest host of NBC’s ‘Saturday Night Live’, with Todd Rundgren and Prince appearing as musical guests.
She appeared in several TV movies over the course of her career, including ‘Diary of a Teenage Hitchhiker’ (1979), ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’ (1979), ‘Favorite Deadly Sins’ (1995), ‘Star Witness’ (1995), ‘Safety Patrol’ (1998), ‘The Theory of Everything’ (2000), and ‘Bar Hopping’ (2000).
Tilton played various characters in four episodes of ABC’s romance sitcom ‘Love Boats’ between 1980 and 1987. She also made guest appearances in shows like ‘Fantasy Island’ (1980), ‘Hotel’ (1983), ‘Murder, She Wrote’ (1987), and ‘Married... with Children’ (1993).
In 2013, she played Francesca DeVanity in six episodes of the soap opera web series ‘DeVanity’. She is set to appear in the romance drama ‘Starting Up Love’.
Tilton is also a gifted singer. She performed all the songs that Lucy Ewing sang in ‘Dallas’. In 1984, she put out the dance-pop single ‘C'est La Vie’. Despite not achieving much success in the United States, the song was a big hit in several European countries.
When Charlene Tilton was 17 years old, she successfully auditioned for the opportunity to play Lucy Ewing in ‘Dallas’. A teenaged troublemaker, Ewing was an instant fan favourite. Tilton portrayed the character in the ensuing eight seasons before leaving the show. She made a comeback for the 11th, 12th, and 13th season. She also reprised the role in one episode of season one of Dallas’ spin-off ‘Knots Landing’ (1980), and in the 2012 continuation of ‘Dallas’.
Family & Personal Life
Charlene Tilton married her first husband, country singer Johnny Lee, on February 14, 1982. They divorced on June 28, 1984. Tilton and Lee have a daughter together, Cherish Lee. Cherish has followed in her mother’s footsteps to become an actress.
From 1985 to 1992, she was married to musician Domenick Allen. In 2001, Tilton began a relationship with cinematographer Cheddy Hart. The couple subsequently moved in together in a modest home in Oxnard, California. In 2009, Hart passed after suffering a heart attack at the age of 54.