Charlene Tilton rose to fame at just 17 when she began filming the popular TV show “Dallas”. Gaining fortune and fame at such a young, impressionable age can be a recipe for disaster as temptations are endless. However, her faith in God and her co-stars ensured she would handle this newfound status.
The actress said, “I was planted in a really good church when I was on ‘Dallas’. I also had great people around me. There were other people in the church that were successful in the entertainment industry, like Donna Summer. They were all wonderful examples. And my ‘Dallas’ castmates, even though everybody had their own faith and different religion, they were all protective of me. I was just blessed. Especially in the ‘80s, there was a lot of trouble that you could get into if you wanted to… I was fortunate I didn’t spiral down.”
However, Tilton did not have an easy upbringing. It is reported she spent some of her childhood in foster care before moving on to her time in Hollywood as an actress. Fox News reported:
Tilton, best remembered as Lucy Ewing, had a tumultuous upbringing. The now-64-year-old lived in foster care from ages 5 to 8 while her mother was institutionalized for mental illness. By age 15, she found herself on her own in Hollywood. She soon found roles in hit shows like “Happy Days” and “Eight is Enough.” However, her time on “Dallas,” where she played the niece of ruthless Texas oil tycoon J.R. Ewing (Larry Hagman) had a profound impact on her life.
“I asked [Larry] one time early on, ‘How do you deal with all of this [stardom] so seemingly calm?’” Tilton said. “He said, ‘Well, on “I Dream of Jeannie,” I just took everything so seriously. That made me have a nervous breakdown.’ I go, ‘Yeah, funny.’ And he goes, ‘No, no really. That’s a part of my life I wasn’t really proud of.’”
“But he learned from himself, and he really became a shining example to all of us on-set,” Tilton claimed. “He used to always say, ‘Don’t worry, be happy.’ And he lived by that. He had an infectious laugh. He just got so much joy out of everybody. He was eccentric and joyful. I loved that he was never too big to talk to anybody, as big of a star as he was.”
Tilton ultimately thanks God for always watching over her during her young fame and attributes that to her success. “I will tell you honestly, God had his hand on me,” she said. “He was protecting me. And I was with a great group of people. The cast had a stellar work ethic. Even though I was young, they expected me to be as professional as them. You always show up early, you know your lines, you’re prepared. Larry Hagman started that from day one. No divas, no prima donnas. We’re all in it together.”
Hollywood is not always known for being an environment that embraces the teachings of Christ. Charlene Tilton gives us a reminder that regardless of where we are, it is crucial to remain faithful and grounded in God.
"*" indicates required fields