I never had the pleasure of meeting Larry Hagman.
But I did have the privilege of breaking the national story about J.R. Beer.
It was my one-and-only national scoop.
How sad is that?
I was a young reporter in Waco, Texas.
My then brother-in-law’s lawyer was the “man behind the can”, or so I cleverly wordsmithed 30 years ago.
He’d somehow put a deal together to produce and sell J.R. Ewing Premium Beer at the height of the popularity of “Dallas”.
If memory serves, the “collectable” was produced by the Pearl Brewing Company in San Antonio, and the ad campaign was totally Texan, urging you to “take a shot at J.R.”.
The point-of-sale poster and packaging even included the image of a bullet hole in the can.
Good old, totally trustworthy, J.R. even put a personal message on the side of each and every can:
“If you have to ask how much my beer costs, you probably can’t afford it.”
I think it sold for about $2 a six pack.
Breaking the story
When I heard about the J.R. Beer story, I knew it would be a nice little feature story.
Not only did it make Page 1 in the Waco Tribune-Herald — Central Texas’ version of the Wall Street Journal, ahem — the wire services sent it all over the world.
This was a good thing for me, because I’d just started working on the Tribune-Herald and, up until then, I was just another guy.
OK, just another guy with one arm. Afterwards, I was the guy who had the J.R. Beer scoop.
Of interest, that story was my first brush up against the “Dark Side”, i.e., Public Relations.
The agency that was supposed to announce the new beer basically “shit *Twinkies” when they realized I was about to spill their dirty little secret about J.R.’s beer.
At least they were smart enough to urgently courier me a photo of the Dallas cast, which ran in the Tribune-Herald, along with a mugshot of my brother-in-law’s attorney, who had an expression that said:
“I’m about to make a whole bunch of damn money.”
Someone asked me on Facebook today what J.R. Beer tasted like.
My recollection was that it tasted just like Pearl Beer.
I get the two mixed up.
Another old friend on Facebook had the best comment I ever heard about the beer:
“I remember J.R. Beer. We bought some once. We wound up using it for target practice. When it is 100 degrees outside and you shoot it with a .45, it really explodes.”
I cannot think of a better use for that awful beer.
BTW, if you have a few cases of J.R. Ewing Premium Beer tucked away in the basement, you are sitting on a gold mine.
A perfect six pack of this collectors’ item beer went for $57,000 on EBay a few months ago.
If you believe that, J.R. Ewing would have owned all your cattle before dusk.
According to the globally important expert voice — RustyCans.com — J.R. Ewing Beer is “Worthless. May sell on EBay for a couple of bucks if you are very lucky!”
Ah well, at least it was nice to have a tiny part in the “Dallas/J.R. Ewing” legend.
Rest in Peace, Larry Hagman.
You were a good, bad-man.
But your beer really sucked.
*LEGAL NOTICE: J.R. Ewing Premium Beer had nothing to do with the demise of Hostess Twinkies. At least that’s our story, pardner, now back off.
Click HERE for more stories about being a reporter in hideous Waco Texas.