TV ICON DEAD AT AGE 81
It is with tremendous sadness to report on the passing of a true TV legend, Larry Hagman, who died on November 23 in Texas due to complications from throat cancer. He was 81 and was surrounded by family and friends at the time of his passing.
Born September 21, 1931 in Fort Worth, Texas to Broadway star Mary Martin and Benjamin Jackson “Jack” Hagman, Hagman shot to fame in two long-running, and very different, TV roles. The first was as amicable astronaut Capt. Tony Nelson (opposite Barbara Eden) on NBC sitcom I Dream of Jeannie, which ran from 1965-70. And the second, of course, was as beloved villain J.R. Ewing in classic serialized CBS drama Dallas, which began as a five-hour miniseries on April 2, 1978 and ultimately aired through May 3, 1991. The continuation of Dallas on TNT, headlined by Hagman, returns in January for its second season. Hagman reportedly shot six of the 15 ordered episodes and there is no word at present how his absence will be addressed.
“All of us at TNT are deeply saddened at the news of Larry Hagman’s passing,” TNT added in a statement. “He was a wonderful human being and an extremely gifted actor. We will be forever thankful that a whole new generation of people got to know and appreciate Larry through his performance as J.R. Ewing. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this very difficult time.”
Hagman’s death is reminiscent of the passing of Jim Davis, who played patriarch Jock Ewing in the original Dallas and died after three seasons (on April 26, 1981).
Linda Gray, who played Hagman’s on-screen wife on Dallas and was at the actor’s bedside when he died, had this to say: “Larry brought joy to everyone he knew. He was creative, generous, funny, loving and talented, and I will miss him enormously. He was an original and lived life to the fullest.”
Gray and Hagman’s other fellow Dallas cast members — Ken Kercheval and Patrick Duffy — shared their thoughts on Twitter upon the news:
So sad to lose such a wonderful dear bigger than life friend. Larry Hagman was one of a kind and will be with us all forever.
— Linda Gray (@Linda_Gray) November 24, 2012
A friend and long time partner… the other half…RIP Larry Hagman…. your spirit will live long.
— Ken Kercheval (@KenKercheval) November 24, 2012
My friend is taking a break. Pardon my silence. Love Patrick http://pic.twitter.com/oWNqx0k0
— Patrick Duffy (@therealpduffy) November 24, 2012
The cast members of the updated edition of Dallas also tweeted:
It was truly an honor to share the screen with Mr. Larry Hagman.With piercing wit and undeniable charm he brought … tmi.me/B6G6s
— Jesse Metcalfe (@jessemetcalfe) November 24, 2012
I feel lucky and humbled to have worked with such a great man and actor. We will miss you, Larry.
— Jordana Brewster (@JordanaBrewster) November 24, 2012
I had the great honor to work with an incredible man. I’m humbled to have been a part of his life. I will cherish you forever. RIP my friend
— Julie Gonzalo (@julie_gonzalo) November 24, 2012
— Brenda Strong (@Brenda_Strong) November 24, 2012
Even Joan Collins, who portrayed vixen Alexis Carrington on Dynasty, the 1980’s hit primetime soap opera rival to Dallas, commented on Twitter:
Oh no just heard about Larry , he was magnificent as JR & inspired me to play Alexis.RIP
— Joan Collins (@joancollinsobe) November 24, 2012
Personally, I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Hagman twice. The first was at an event honoring TV Land’s fifth anniversary in 2001, where I asked him what programs he was currently watching. And the second, and much more recent, was at a TNT lunch in May during upfront week. A session on Dallas at the Television Critics Association last January featuring Larry Hagman, Patrick Duffy and Linda Gray was truly one of the most memorable moments of my career.
Rest in peace, Mr. Hagman. You will be truly missed.
Enjoy this episode of the original Family Feud hosted by Richard Dawson, featuring Larry Hagman and some of the “Dallas” cast playing against the cast of “Eight is Enough” (referred link, courtesy of Casey Abell):