In 1971, Linda Gray, then a successful TV commercial actress — she eventually appeared in more than 400 TV ads — and her husband Ed Thrasher, then the art director for Warner Bros. Records, who designed album covers for seminal bands of the era, including The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Grateful Dead and The Doobie Brothers, drove out of L.A. with some visiting friends from Tennessee who were looking to buy a horse ranch.
The foursome ended up about 35 miles due north of Beverly Hills, in the secluded Canyon Country area of the Santa Clarita Valley, where Gray and Thrasher quickly became so smitten with the area’s rolling, oak forested hills that they acquired an unusually triangular parcel of nearly 2.7 mostly flat acres for themselves.
At the time, modernist architect A. Quincy Jones was designing the Warner Bros. Records Building in Burbank, Calif., a woodsy International-style affair completed in 1975, and the young couple had the prescience to hire Jones to design their Canyon Country retreat in a similarly rustic-modern manner. The three-bedroom main house was completed in 1974, the year Gray landed her first credited TV role, a small one-episode part on “Marcus Welby, M.D.”.
Gray went on earn Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for her iconic portrayal of “neurotic, psychotic, alcoholic weirdo” Sue Ellen Ewing on the original 1980s primetime soap “Dallas,” and its reboot, which ran from 2012 to 2014. She and Thrasher divorced in 1983, and the city of Santa Clarita, incorporated in 1987, has become a sprawling edge city composed of suburban housing developments, shopping malls, and nearly a quarter million people. The Canyon Country area, however, remains much the bucolic equestrian hideaway it was fifty years ago.