Doug Box lived the “Big Rich Texas” lifestyle long before it became a TV show. His family rivaled the Ewings of “Dallas” fame and with good reason. He was raised at the original Southfork Ranch.
The Preston Hollow resident recently chronicled his famous father — football star and entrepreneur Cloyce Box — and his family’s rise to fame and economic fall in his debut memoir, Cutter Frisco: Growing Up on the Original Southfork Ranch.
“The house stands in a skeletal condition, and it’s been in that condition for years and years. There’s been a whole community of people that have grown up around Frisco that have never known this house when it was standing,” Box said. “It’s a big question mark on the horizon. I call it the Stonehenge of Frisco.”
Box’s childhood home, known today as Brinkmann Ranch, plays a central role in his new book, which recounts tales of glitz and glamour, the Cattle Baron’s Ball, and “Monday Night Football.” Told through the relationship between Box and his beloved horse, Cutter Frisco, the author isn’t afraid to share his family’s low points, far from the film crews and celebrities.
“There were a lot of tears in producing this book but it’s helped me. We had everything and then we lost everything. We lost the grandeur of that lifestyle when my dad literally bet the ranch on an investment deal in the late ’80s that went south,” he said.
The author, who has worked as a consultant for his family business for more than a decade, saw the book as an opportunity to share the ups and downs that came with living the extravagant Box lifestyle of horses, oil, and cattle.
“My dad was a very driven man and first-generation wealth creator. Sometimes, those kinds of men don’t always make the very best family men. He was a workaholic and gone from home a lot, and not always in the best mood when he was at home,” he said. “It was tough sometimes growing up the son of this larger-than-life figure. It was a lot to live up to.”
Much of the interest in the self-published book has come from “Dallas” fans, curious about what happened to the ranch that’s featured in the famed television show’s first six episodes. Box, a sophomore at University of Texas in Austin at the time, found out that the show was filming in his backyard only a short while after he had declared his major — radio, television, and film.
“I called home one day and my mom told me that there was a crew filming there around the ranch. I thought it might be a couple of people doing a documentary but I got home and saw a full-blown production,” said Box, who even worked for the show for a stint after it moved off the Box property to the more well-known ranch in Parker, Texas.
“I don’t think my father was the true inspiration for J.R. Ewing, but there was definitely some borrowing done there,” he said. “Life growing up there was kind of like growing up in the movie Giant.”