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Michael Wilding Joins Cast of CBS’ ‘Dallas’

August 3, 1989

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Michael Wilding made his film debut as a street urchin when his mother, Elizabeth Taylor, played Kate in ″Taming of the Shrew″ in Italy.

Richard Burton, his stepfather at the time, played Petruchio in the 1967 film.

″I ran alongside Petruchio’s horse on the way to the wedding,″ said Wilding, who has joined the cast of CBS’ ″Dallas.″

″My brother, Christopher Wilding, was also an extra. I had braces on my teeth and we wore little codpieces and velvet caps. We kept shouting, ’Petruchio, Petruchio.‴

After that beginning, Wilding’s acting was put on hold for many years in favor of education. His major role so far was that of Jesus Christ in the NBC miniseries ″A.D.″

The son of Taylor and the late Michael Wilding Sr., has his mother’s violet eyes and dark complexion. His black hair has streaks of gray.

Wilding will play art dealer Alex Barton in the new ″Dallas″ season.

″He’s kind of a Henry Higgins because he finds a young artist and sees a great potential in her,″ he said of Barton. ″He feels he can steer her in the right direction to become a great artist. She’s a primitive artist, like Grandma Moses.″

The young artist is Callie Harper Ewing, the wife of J.R. Ewing played by Cathy Podewell. A romantic interest develops between the two. Larry Hagman, of course, is J.R.

″I haven’t had any scenes with Larry,″ Wilding said. ″So far, J.R. doesn’t know anything about us or he isn’t interested enough. There’s such a contrast between Barton and Callie. He’s incredibly worldly and sophisticated and she’s a country girl.

″I think he feels he can steer her into becoming a worldly and stylish person with a bit of tutoring. He wants to change her. Personally, I’d leave her the way she is. She’s a very sweet lady.″

More recently, Wilding had a small role in one of his mother’s projects, ″Sweet Bird of Youth″ for NBC. He plays a movie producer who tries to talk his mother, playing a fading actress, into working in a film.

″In the scene we’re on the telephone, so I just played one side of the conversation,″ he said. ″I’m looking forward to seeing the scene put together. When I got the part I thought it would be fun to work with her, but I guess she filmed her part several weeks later. I’ve yet to act in a scene with her.″

Wilding and his wife, actress Brooke Palance, the daughter of Jack Palance, recently made Taylor a grandmother again. Their son, Tarquin, was born about two weeks ago. Wilding has two daughters, Laela and Naomi, from a previous marriage.

He moved from New York to Los Angeles a few months ago to find work.

″I knew there’s be more work here,″ he said, ″but I’m still going through withdrawal symptoms. I’d been quite stubborn about making myself believe there was work in New York.″

He got the role in ″Dallas″ by auditioning for it.

Asked about the advantages or disadvantages of famous parents, Wilding said, ″I really don’t think it opened any doors. I think it got me some interviews. If I was doing an Off Broadway show it would arouse some interest. But I don’t think it got me any roles, which is the way I want it. I’d hate to go through my career thinking my parts came because of my parents.″

Wilding grew up mostly in Europe and attended Swiss and English boarding schools. He had a tutor when he went on location with his parents.

″I grew up on locations,″ he said. ″I still love locations. I remember being on the sets for ‘Cleopatra.’ They had some great naval battles. That was fun for a 9-year-old. She entered Rome on a sphinx pulled by Nubian slaves. It opens up and thousands of doves fly out. I remember when all the extras were assembled to hail Cleopatra. The first time they all yelled, ’Liz 3/8‴


Elsewhere in television:

NEW MAGAZINE - Av Westin has joined King World Productions to create a new first-run syndicated news magazine show tentatively called ″30 Minutes.″ Westin is a former ABC News executive. In 1967 he was the producer of ″PBL,″ the Public Broadcasting Laboratory,″ the granddaddy of all television magazine shows.

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