When Larry Hagman flies into Dallas, he hails a Texas Taxi—no ordinary hack with jump seats and a meter, but a Cadillac Eldorado convertible with longhorns on the hood and a Klaxon under it that plays The Eyes of Texas. There also are big cigars for male customers like Hagman, yellow roses for the ladies, Lone Star beer for everybody and a cowboy at the wheel. “You can’t get a taxi like that in New York or Los Angeles,” says Hagman. “It’s Texas all the way.”
Kirk Dooley, an entrepreneur worthy of the state’s reputation, runs the fleet of four fancy cabs. At 27, he has already owned a video specialty store (an employee stole his stock and put him out of business), a moped dealership (it folded) and a newspaper serving Highland Park, the ritzy Dallas suburb where he was raised. That business, which he still operates, was the only one Dooley actually trained for; he studied journalism at Texas Tech.
Dooley dreamed up his lush limo service to cater to businessmen on expense accounts and high-rolling tourists. With a $20,000 bank loan, he and partner Dewitt Ray II! bought the Caddies, hired 12 drivers (some part-time) and outfitted them in white Western shirts (“They all had the boots, jeans, belts and hats, so we saved some money there”). After eight months in business, Dooley and Ray are corralling $6,000 a month. The cabs cost $50 an hour (with a two-hour minimum). “We’ll go out of business,” says bachelor Dooley, “the day out-of-towners quit coming to Dallas.”
No one was more impressed with the Texas Taxi treatment than Bill Cosby, who arrived last summer for a performance. When Ray asked him what it was like “to be a big star and be stared at all the time,” Cos replied, “You drive around in a car like this all day, and you’re asking me?”
Texas Taxi caters to so many members of the Dallas cast when they film on location that all the drivers (except Dooley) have appeared as extras on the series—some in speaking parts. Patrick Duffy, who plays Bobby Ewing, always rides in the front seat and slugs down Lone Star. Linda (Sue Ellen) Gray is, Dooley insists, “the nicest person we’ve ever driven.” But, true to J.R.’s image, Hagman gives the biggest tips—$50 a ride.