Heather Keets
June 24, 1994 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Today is the day Grant Show is supposed to die. But he’s in a good mood. He’s finally going to get a vacation.

A month ago, Show was sporting T-shirt and jeans as the beefy mechanic Jake on Melrose Place. Today, the actor stands on a ranch just outside of Del Rio, Tex., looking just as comfortable in black riding boots and a silk ascot. He’s on the set of Texas, a four-hour epic being produced by ABC and Aaron Spelling, Melrose‘s executive producer. Show, 32, plays Col. William B. Travis, who along with Jim Bowie (David Keith) and Davy Crockett (John Schneider) tried to defend the Alamo against the Mexican army. History dictates that Travis take a bullet today. And as soon as he does, Show, after five days of filming for his relatively small role, will at last begin his summer break.

”From here I go home to spend some time with Laura (Leighton, who plays Sydney on Melrose and who is dating Show). Then a week with my father golfing. Then I meet Laura again, and it’s off to the Caribbean. I don’t know where, though. She makes all the travel plans.” (Leighton may decide to stay home: The following day, she injured her leg while rehearsing for the Showtime movie Shake, Rattle and Rock.)

But between Melrose and time off lies Texas. Based on the James Michener novel by the same name, the movie will have an unusual release, coming out first on home video in the fall and airing later on ABC. When Spelling mentioned a possible role, Show grabbed it — even though he knew little about the battle of the Alamo. ”I didn’t know who Travis was at all,” Show says. ”But I like the part because every single line he has is this huge heroic speech, and I don’t get to do that on Melrose Place.”

So Show sprouted some facial hair, borrowed a baritone Southern drawl, and re-created a figure who in other films has been played — to mixed reviews — by Laurence Harvey and Alec Baldwin. ”Everyone has been terrible in this role — oh, no!” Show cries in mock horror. ”That’s a lot to live up to. This may be the first decent performance.”

With vacation and a return to one of TV’s most talked-about series ahead, he isn’t feeling pressured. ”This is the kind of part I want to do on my hiatus,” he says, ”small and juicy. I’ll tell you, if you blink you’ll miss me in this thing.”

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