Very sad news to pass along today … Larry Hagman, the actor who first made his way into our hearts in the classic 60’s sitcom I Dream of Jeannie and then solidified his place in pop culture history on the iconic 80’s primetime drama Dallas, has passed away due to complications from throat cancer. Hagman had reprised his role as the villainous J.R. Ewing on the reboot version of Dallas (which relaunched on TNT this past Summer) and was able to bring the despicable character back to life. Unfortunately, Hagman’s real life battle with cancer won out in the end. He was 81 years old.
Larry Hagman, a larger-than-life TV personality best known for his role as J.R. Ewing on the primetime soap Dallas, died Friday of complications from throat cancer. The star, who was the son of Broadway legend Mary Martin (South Pacific, Peter Pan) and Texas attorney Benjamin Hagman, was 81. He is survived by his wife of 54 years years, Maj Hagman, their two children and their grandchildren. “When he passed, he was surrounded by loved ones,” his family said in a statement to the Dallas Morning News. “It was a peaceful passing, just as he had wished for. The family requests privacy at this time.” “This is so sad. Larry was really someone who was loved by everyone,” his agent Joel Dean tells PEOPLE. “Me especially. He was the most loving, wonderful, generous man. And he was a true trouper.” In late 2011, Hagman, who had undergone a liver transplant in 1995, announced he had stage 2 throat cancer but had also signed on to star in the TNT reboot of Dallas (which recently started filming its second season). The show originally aired on CBS from 1978 to 1991. “Larry was back in his beloved Dallas, re-enacting the iconic role he loved most,” said the family statement. According to the Morning News, Hagman’s Dallas costars Linda Gray and Patrick Duffy were by his side at Medical City Dallas Hospital when he died. In addition to portraying J.R. – a lovable, scheming, villainous oilman, whose shooting was a topic of international water-cooler discussion in 1980 – Hagman costarred with Barbara Eden as the astronaut Major Anthony Nelson on NBC’s I Dream of Jeannie, which ran for five seasons starting in 1965. “My deepest condolences go out to his wife Maj, his son and daughter and his grandchildren, as well as his friends in this time of his passing,” Eden posted on her Facebook page. “I can honestly say that we’ve lost not just a great actor, not just a television icon, but an element of pure Americana.” Added Eden: “Goodbye Larry, there was no one like you before and there will never be anyone like you again.”
This is very, very sad news. When I was little, I used to love watching re-runs of I Dream of Jeannie. I loved Hagman as Major Anthony Nelson on the show. In the 70’s and 80’s, Hagman played a lot of small roles in a lot of different projects but I only knew him as Major Nelson from Jeannie … until Dallas came onto the scene. OMG, I hated his character J.R. Ewing so much! I wasn’t a big Dallas fan but when I did watch it, I was amazed at how convincingly Hagman played the role. That is a true testament to his acting ability … he was able to make us love him and hate him depending on the role he took on. At 81, I hope he lived a happy life. I don’t imagine his health battles were much fun but he always struck me as the kind of man that lived life to the fullest. Reprising his role as J.R. Ewing on the rebooted version of Dallas said to me that he still had a zest for life. He will be missed. Larry Hagman will always be remembered as an iconic TV actor. May he rest well in eternal peace :(