Larry Hagman, JR From Dallas, Dies At Age Of 81 – the actor has died at the age of 81-years old after a number of years of ill-health.
Indeed it would not be too cruel to say he comes under the heading of those people where you say “I thought he had died ages ago.” He had suffered from liver cancer and cirrhosis of the liver since the 1980’s and his death is believed to be due to complications from throat cancer.
Hagman’s career got its first big break in 1965 when he co-starred with Barbara Eden in the NBC series I Dream Of Jeannie. He played the part of astronaut Major Tony Nelson who becomes the master of a genie (Barbara Eden) in a bottle. The two eventually fall in love and the programme was unusual for allowing an unmarried man to share his house with a woman getting past the US censors because it was made clear to the viewers that Jeannie slept in her bottle.
Without any doubt however Hagman is best-known for his role as oil baron J.R. Ewing in the long running American soap Dallas. The series ran from 1978 until 1991 with a total of 357 episodes. There is a currently a remake in progress with many of the original cast, which will obviously be affected by the news of Hagman’s death.
His near death in the original tv series was one of the most talked about moments in US tv history with the “Who Shot JR” episode in 1980 watched by over 350m people around the world. As a much disliked figure in the series there were any number of possible suspects for the shooting and there was much speculation until Kristin, the sister of JR’s wife Sue Ellen was shown to be the guilty party. The episode holds the record for the 2nd highest audience for any US tv show since records began. The only show with more viewers than the Who Shot JR episode of Dallas was ‘Goodbye, Farewell and Amen’, the series finale of M.A.S.H.
Although he came across as an unlikable character in Dallas he obviously got on well with his fellow actors in real life as Linda Gray, who played his on-screen wife Sue Ellen, was at his bedside when he died.
Hagman had battled both drink and drugs for a number of years and whilst filming Dallas had admitted to drinking at least 4 bottles of champagne every day. He kept this level of drinking up right up until his doctor advised him that he had damaged his liver to such a level that he was likely to die within 6 months. He received a liver transplant in 1995 although this too was not without controversy as many people said that the liver should not have gone to such a heavy drinker who was seen to have overseen his own downfall.
Hagman’s final wish is that after his death he wanted his remains to be “spread over a field and have marijuana and wheat planted and harvest it in a couple of years and then have a big marijuana cake, enough for 200 to 300 people. People would eat a little of Larry.”