Jim Davis' show business career began in a circus where he worked as a tent-rigger. He came to Los Angeles as a traveling salesman in 1940, gradually drifting into the movies following an MGM screen test with Esther Williams. After six long years in minor roles, he was "introduced" in 1948's Winter Meeting, co-starring with Bette Davis (no relation, though the Warner Bros. publicity department made much of the fact that the two stars shared the same name). He never caught on as a romantic lead, however, and spent most of the 1950s in secondary roles often as Western heavies. He starred in two syndicated TV series, Stories of the Century (1954) and Rescue 8 (1958-1959), and made at least 200 guest star appearances on other programs. Jim Davis is best known today for his work as oil-rich Jock Ewing on the prime time TV serial Dallas, a role he held down from 1978 to his unexpected death following surgery in 1981.