DALLAS star Howard Keel has lost his battle with colon cancer. He was 85.

The Illinois-born actor launched to fame in 1950 as BETTY HUTTON's love interest in musical film ANNIE GET YOUR GUN.

Keel went on to play the romantic lead in MGM classics Kiss Me Kate, SHOW BOAT, Calamity Jane and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

At 66, Keel landed the role of CLAYTON FARLOW in classic TV series Dallas - husband of Southfork matriarch MISS ELLIE.

During his long life, Keel married and divorced three times, firstly to ROSEMARY COOPER in 1948. During his next marriage - which lasted 20 years - to dancer HELEN ANDERSON, they had three children: KAIJA, KRISTINA and GUNNAR.

He has a daughter LESLIE, 30, from his third marriage to former flight attendant JUDY MAGAMOLL, whom he wed in 1970 following his divorce the same year from Anderson.

Keel is survived by 10 grandchildren and one great-granddaughter.

He will be buried in a private funeral service this week (ends12NOV04).

08/11/2004 14:18