SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO — The cowboys sitting at the bar of the El Adobe restaurant on Monday evening hardly created a stir.
It wasn't until later that Elias Meza, restaurant manager, realized that they weren't cowboys at all--but actors. And sitting inconspicuously among them was Larry Hagman, better known in some quarters as J.R. Ewing of the television show "Dallas"--in town to film an upcoming episode of the prime-time series .
"Darn it, I wish I had recognized him," he said, pointing to a guest book filled with celebrity autographs he has collected over the years. "Now when I get Anthony Quinn, I recognize him right away."
But Hagman and co-star Patrick Duffy did not escape notice the next evening at another local bar, the Swallows Inn.
"You couldn't even recognize them at first. They looked so different from TV," said an employee who asked not to be named. She added that while the actors pretty much kept to themselves, other patrons "kept buying them drinks."
It did not take long for word to spread through town quickly that J.R. and his brother, Bobby, were filming an episode at the nearby Rancho Mission Viejo.
The show's publicist, David Stapf, said the three-day taping was for the television series' 350th episode--making it television's second-longest running drama next to "Gunsmoke," which ran for 402 episodes.
"What they were filming down there is a good old-fashioned cattle drive," Stapf said of the episode entitled, "Fathers and Sons and Fathers and Sons," which is scheduled to run in late February.
The segment's story line will chronicle the Ewings' driving 400 head of cattle from one part of the South Fork range to another, Stapf said.
The 40,000-acre Rancho Mission Viejo is owned by the O'Neill family heirs and is managed by the Santa Margarita Co.
Company spokeswoman Diane Gaynor said the ranch is occasionally used for films and television. Gaynor said the first film made there was the 1928 Gary Cooper film, "Lilac Time."