Larry Hagman, known for his roles as Major Tony Nelson on the 60s sitcom I Dream of Jeannie and oil tycoon J.R. Ewing on the 80s primetime soap opera Dallas, died of complications from cancer at a Dallas hospital on Friday. He was 81.
According to a family statement, he was surrounded by family and close friends at the time of his passing. His loved ones had joined him in Dallas to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday.
Hagman’s most notable role was J.R., a lovable villain in the hit series Dallas. Hagman’s popularity was bolstered by what is still considered to be one of the most famous television season finales of all time, titled “A House Divided.” The 1980 Dallas season 3 cliffhanger, in which his character was shot by an unknown gunman (or, as it turned out, gunwoman), is still one of the most watched episodes in television history. CBS used the mystery to build anticipation for the fourth season, creating the promotional catchphrase that took the nation by storm: “Who Shot J.R.?”
Although most audiences recognize Hagman from his iconic turn as J.R., he showed great range and talent over an acting career that spanned seven decades. The native Texan got his start in show business as a production assistant for a Dallas theater and quickly moved on to acting in stage plays. He debuted on Broadway in 1958 in Comes a Day and made his first television appearance on an episode of Decoy at the age of 25.
Major Tony Nelson was dubbed by many as Hagman’s breakout role. Hagman appeared as the genie’s master and eventual love interest for five seasons on I Dream of Jeannie before the show was canceled in 1964. He then went on to appear in several films and short-lived TV series until he landed the part of J.R. on Dallas.
Hagman recently reprised his role as J.R. on the 2012 continuation series of Dallas on TNT. He had already filmed episodes for the show’s second season, which will air in January 2013. Hagman had said that he still loved playing the villainous character.
Hagman’s lovable personality and passion for acting will be sorely missed. He will be forever remembered, not just for his film and television roles, but also as a loving family man.
Screen Rant would like to express our sincere condolences to the friends and family of Larry Hagman in this difficult time. Hagman is survived by his wife, his two children, and five grandchildren.
R.I.P. Larry Hagman: September 21st, 1931 – November 23rd, 2012.