Today in 1978, the premiere of the iconic TV show “Dallas.”

It was originally just supposed to be a miniseries, but it just kept winning over audience after audience – even some audiences that were behind the Iron Curtain.

If you’re not familiar with the show, it was a prime time soap opera largely about the Ewing family, which was fabulously wealthy thanks to the oil business.

The oldest son of the family, J.R. Ewing, was a classic TV anti-hero.

He was greedy and selfish and people loved him for it (or at least loved to hate him).

“Dallas” was not only a massive hit in the United States, it was syndicated in countries all over the world, including some Communist countries like Romania.

Officials there saw the Ewings and thought, here is exactly what we tell our people the West is like: corrupt people doing all these sordid things to each other.

They figured Romanians would watch “Dallas” and see that the American way of life was a dead end and the Communist way was the right one.

What actually happened was that people saw this family with a giant ranch in Texas, and cars, and glamorous outfits and they said, we’re just barely getting by here, I’d rather be like those people!

And Romania wasn’t the only place where this went on.

In the then-Soviet republic of Estonia, some people could catch broadcasts of “Dallas” on TV from nearby Finland.

They would quietly share the details of the latest episodes with people who hadn’t been able to tune in.

It’s another example of how Western culture became irresistible to many people in the Communist bloc, like how Soviet music lovers would share bootleg copies of rock music with each other.

I’m not saying that JR Ewing ended Communism, but I will say that Dallas wrapped up its original run in 1991.

It lasted two years longer than Romania’s dictator.

All month long in and around Mount Vernon, Washington, it’s the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival.

It started in 1984 as a two day event for flower enthsiastics.

Now it’s a month-long celebration with millions of tulips, street fairs, art shows and a pickleball tournament.

How ‘Dallas’ Won the Cold War (Washington Post)

J.R. Ewing Shot Down Communism in Estonia (New York Times)

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

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