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Remembering Larry Hagman

November 24, 2012 by Marc Berman in Highlights with 3 Comments
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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:

The cast members of the updated edition of Dallas also tweeted:

Even Joan Collins, who portrayed vixen Alexis Carrington on Dynasty, the 1980’s hit primetime soap opera rival to Dallas, commented on Twitter:

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):

Written by Marc Berman

Marc Berman

Marc Berman is the Editor in Chief for TV Media Insights, the online destination for television and media. Berman has appeared on camera for “Extra,” “Entertainment Tonight,” “Access Hollywood,” “The CBS Evening News,” CNN, and more; and was the author of 2014 desk calendar, “This Day in TV History.”

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  • DuMont

    Requiescat in pace Mr. Hagman, who was a superb actor with talents that spanned across six decades of broadcast and cable television, accomplished in both comedy and tragedy, big and small screen.

    But I will also remember Mr. Hagman for his pioneering activism in asserting the rights of non-smokers on film sets by being a very early and passionate advocate for smoke-free workplaces, which he parlayed into extensive work for cancer charities in the 1980s. In the beginning, he was a lone voice on a workplace health issue we all take for granted today, and his tenacious persistence on this issue elevated it to national prominence, which led to legislation and has no doubt saved and extended many lives as a result.

    Mr. Larry Hagman, nominated twice in the Emmys in the Best Dramatic Actor category for ‘Dallas’, never won an award. For his brave campaign on behalf of the rights of non-smokers, clean air today in workplaces across America (around the world excepting for Asia) is a more everlasting and rewarding award.

  • marcberman

    I forgot about that, DuMont. Thank you for the update. And the fact that Mr. Hagman never won an Emmy is one of the greatest omissions in the history of television.

  • doctorgild

    I just found out about Larry Hagman’s death today (after being on vacation without looking at the Internet or a newspaper). Such horrible news. I saw part of the run of the original Dallas when it initially aired and loved J.R. I also used to watch reruns of I Dream of Jeannie in the late ’80s as a teenager after I moved to Florida and had no friends there. Watching TV was a way for me to forget how lonely I was. I’m really going to miss him on the new Dallas.

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