Dallas star, Miss USA Deborah Shelton special Moonlight at the Ranch guest
By Peggy Kelly
Santa Paula News
Published: September 11, 2013
By Peggy Kelly
Santa Paula Times
The 1970s was known for gorgeous women and one of the most beautiful was Deborah Shelton, who started off the decade with official recognition of her spectacular good looks when she was crowned Miss USA 1970.
Deborah, whose acting career includes roles as J.R. Ewing’s mistress in the smash television hit Dallas is a Special Guest at the September 21 Moonlight at the Ranch VII: “Disco Fever!”
Moonlighters will “Burn, Baby, Burn!” at this tribute to Disco music and the ‘70s held at Limoneira Ranch.
Deborah, a resident of Beverly Hills, is familiar with Santa Paula and looking forward to attending Moonlight at the Ranch.
“Santa Paula is really charming; it’s beautiful,” said Deborah, whose good friend Pamela Fuller is an area resident.
Each year Moonlight at the Ranch benefits the Santa Paula Police & Fire Foundation and Chamber of Commerce.
“We’re honored and delighted that Ms. Shelton is going to be our special guest,” said Fire Chief Rick Araiza, Moonlight Chair, “I’ve always enjoyed her portrayals and have been told she’s very nice with a great sense of humor. We really appreciate her support of Santa Paula police and fire!”
Public safety is something that Deborah strongly identifies with: “I am fascinated by those stories,” especially as said Deborah, “I’ve had to die in about six films ... there were times I thought ‘am I ever going to finish a film?’ But it does give you a lot of empathy,” for public safety responders.
And for victims of crime: Deborah is an advocate of domestic violence awareness, prevention and services.
A native of Washington, D.C., who grew up in Norfolk, VA, Deborah was an Old Dominion University junior when crowned Miss USA in 1970.
Tall with dramatic coloring and startling green eyes, Deborah was First Runner-Up for Miss Universe.
After college, she moved to New York City where she studied acting, modeled, and appeared on television commercials.
She starred in the 1984 film, Body Double, directed by Brian De Palma: “That was fun,” said Deborah. “It was great to work with De Palma. He was a genius - really talented. Personally, he reminded me somewhat of Vincent Price, kind of eerie.”
And determined to get a performance out of Deborah during the screen test, an experience she found “overwhelming,” due to De Palma’s intensity.
“I did two scenes with him,” during which De Palma’s direction turned Deborah initial intimidation and uncertainty into a solid hold on the dialogue and character.
Deborah’s performance evoked a comment from De Palma: “He said, ‘where were those feelings?’ I love working with genius.”
Deborah’s career has been a busy and varied one with frequent guest appearances on television series ranging from Fantasy Island and The A-Team to playing a rich housewife in Nip/Tuck.
But her most notable television performance is the role of Mandy Winger, one of J. R. Ewing’s more memorable Dallas mistresses. After Mandy left the show, an outpouring of fan mail convinced the producers to bring the character back.
Deborah appeared in the series from 1984 to 1987 and made a 2012 guest appearance on the newly revived Dallas after real life star Larry Hagman passed away. She again was Mandy for J.R. Ewing’s memorial service.
Deborah said, “It was so wonderful to see everybody again,” especially Linda Gray, aka Sue Ellen, J.R.’s wife.
There were never any off camera catfights for Gray and the “other woman.” Deborah said, “I really enjoyed working with Linda, she is the best. I loved her so much! And for the memorial service we had a scene between me, Linda and J.R.’s second wife,” as they bid farewell to the man who had cheated on them all.
When asked, Deborah said, “My favorite roles are the ones I play in my acting class. Isn’t that funny? I’ve just enjoyed about everything I’ve ever done. I just love working, and I keep working doing everything in every field.”
Deborah was on the other side of the pageant runway when she offered commentary during past Miss USA competitions. She is also a composer and lyricist, producer and writer who feels one of her greatest achievements was being a good mother to her now grown children.
Deborah makes time for charities and causes she supports: “I really believe in supporting police and fire,” and said she grieved in recent months when 19 firefighters were caught and died in the Prescott, AZ, firestorm.
“Those firefighters that were lost, all young, so tragic ... our firefighters and police face danger all the time. They have very hard jobs.”
Although it’s a “shame the private sector has to supplement public safety,” Deborah said, “Thank God we care enough to help; I’m glad to help.”
Deborah, who speaks several languages and learned Spanish as a child by watching TV, appreciates the diversity seen in public safety and the diversity of Santa Paula.
“I love diversity and public safety is a place where diversity works very well especially in Santa Paula. They all support each other.”
Tickets to Moonlight at the Ranch VII: “Disco Fever!” are only $60 each and include a full night of entertainment from 5:30 to 11 p.m.
The celebration will start with at Limoneira “Do the Hustle” Park where guests will enjoy no host bars and hors d’oeuvres. At 6:15 p.m. there will be an exciting “Disco Dance-Off” where contestants will shake-shake-shake to be judged by audience applause.
At 7 p.m. guests will boogie down to the Courtyard, aka Club Claire de Lune, for a Disco experience that includes tastings from dozens of restaurants, bakeries and caterers.
The boogie will start to roll at 8 p.m. with Men on the Moon; a Silent Auction and Raffles will round out the Disco evening!
You’ll love the nightlife at this annual party, Ventura County’s signature celebration.
“Moonlight,” said Araiza, “is like no other event ... no matter our theme, people have a great time they never forget!”
Many attendees will be rocking disco-themed attire or attending as characters of the era, but come as you are most comfortable.
Visit and Like the Moonlight at the Ranch Facebook page and www.moonlightattheranch.for more information and online reservations.
Tickets --— only $60 each! — are available in Santa Paula at the Santa Paula Times (120 Davis St.), Chamber of Commerce (200 N. 10th St.) and The Best of VC Marketplace (926 Railroad Ave., inside the historic Agricultural Museum) and downtown Ventura at The Jerold Thomas Salon, 77 S. California Street.
Charge by phone (MC/Visa), 805-525-1890.