Me and J.R. Beer


Larry Hagman

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 when 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 word-smithed 40 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  advertising poster even included the image of a bullet hole in the can.


Good old J.R. even put a personal message on the side of every can:  “If you have to ask how much my beer costs, you probably can’t afford it.”

Breaking the story

I found out about J.R. Beer before the brewery had launched their P.R. and Advertising campaign. They asked me to hold the story, and I told them that’s not how things worked in journalism.   

My story went big. Not only did it make Page 1 in the Waco Tribune-Herald — Central Texas’ version of the Wall Street Journal — the wire services sent it all over the country.   

The beer itself was not hardly a premium brew. As I recall, it tasted like Pearl beer. Or maybe dishwater.  But it did have other uses, according to a lawman I knew.  

“We bought some once. We wound up using it for target practice. When it’s 100 degrees outside and you shoot it with a .45, it really explodes.”

I think that comment would have made J.R. laugh, as he counted his money. 


Click HERE for more stories about being a reporter in hideous Waco Texas.



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