Deborah Rennard Played Sly Lovegren on "Dallas." See Her Now at 62.
She took an almost 20-year break from acting but recently made a comeback.
In 1981, Deborah Rennard made her Dallas debut as Sly Lovegren, the ever-loyal and eventually longtime secretary of J.R. at Ewing Oil. The primetime soap was her first big role in Hollywood, and she stayed on the series for the rest of its run, appearing in 181 episodes total. Rennard also reprised the character in the 1996 TV movie, Dallas: JR Returns. Today, it's been 26 years since audiences have seen her as Sly; read on to learn what Rennard has been up to since the iconic series ended.
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She took a long break from acting.
After Dallas, Rennard continued to work in Hollywood, landing recurring roles on Days of Our Lives, Due South, and Sunset Beach, and guest-starring in shows including Silk Stalkings, Forever Knight, and Family Law. She also appeared in several movies in 1980s and '90s, including Land of Doom and Lionheart (pictured above).
The actor all but disappeared from the screen after her last Family Law episode in 2001. Aside from an uncredited role in the 2015 miniseries Show Me a Hero, she was on an acting hiatus until last year, when she came back with a vengeance. Rennard appeared in three 2021 movies: You Can Never Go Home Again, Deck the Heart, and The Families Feud. And this year, she did an episode each of FBI: Most Wanted and the rebooted original Law & Order.
Just this month, Rennard shared via an Instagram post that she's been filming a "very cool horror/psychological drama" called Appendage for the streaming service Hulu, so it seems like her almost 20-year break is well over.
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She married a famous filmmaker.
In 1997, Rennard married filmmaker Paul Haggis, best known for the movie Crash. They welcomed a son, James, in 1998; as a child, he played bit roles in Crash and in 2007's In the Valley of Elah, which Haggis wrote and Rennard co-produced. The pair filed for divorce in 2012, though it was not finalized until 2016.
Though they had been split for several years by that point, they continued to work together professionally, and Rennard gave a statement to Deadline in 2018 in support of her ex-husband, who'd been accused of sexual assault by several women. Haggis denied any wrongdoing and claimed that the accusations leveled against him were retaliation by the Church of Scientology, which he had very publicly left and disavowed. (Scientology denied any such smear campaign.) Rennard, who'd been raised in the controversial faith and quietly left around the time Haggis did, does not mention the supposed retaliation in her statement, instead speaking to her understanding of Haggis' character.
As also reported by Deadline, Haggis was arrested in Italy this June on another report of sexual assault. He has publicly denied the allegation amid an ongoing investigation by Italian authorities.
She's a producer and playwright.
In the period when Rennard wasn't acting, she was involved in the entertainment industry in different ways. She has produced, not only on In the Valley of Elah but also on the 1997 series EZ Streets, and she's also been involved in theater, including playwriting. In 2016, her play For Worse premiered at the New Jersey Repertory Company, and in 2017, Dana Delany starred in a reading of another of her plays, MORE.
Rennard told a Dallas fan site in 2009 of her decision to leave acting and get behind the scenes, "It wasn't like I just woke up one day and decided not to act anymore. I gradually became less interested in the parts I was getting as an actor and more interested in producing. Also, when I had my son I really didn't want to spend all that time sitting on a set."
According to her LinkedIn, Rennard is working with the independent company Heretic Films in production and development.
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She's also a singer.
On top of all of that, Rennard also sings. And for the past several years, she's been performing a show called "The Soundtrack of Our Lives" with Al Sapienza, of The Sopranos fame. They sing songs from their childhoods in the '60s and '70s with a full band and also share stories about their life experiences. In a 2021 interview with The No Excuses Show, Rennard explained that she actually found her way to show business first through her love of singing and later discovering musicals, but that her long-running role on Dallas and other projects kept her too busy to really pursue music. She also noted that she didn't begin playwriting or performing live again until the age of 50, when her friend Sapienza learned that she could sing and asked her to join him on stage.
"But part of this was this idea that I have nothing to lose," Rennard explained. "I don't have anything to prove to anybody because no one expects me to be able to do it! It's kind of crazy that I'm starting these whole new careers, so all the pressure just lifted."