Yesterday we learned the very sad news that actor Larry Hagman passed away at the age of 81 due to complications from throat cancer. As you may know, Hagman successfully reprised his iconic role as J.R. Ewing on the rebooted drama series Dallas earlier this Summer. Because Dallas will return next year for a second season, it has been decided that the storyline will be amended to reflect Hagman’s death … which, of course, means that the villainous J.R. Ewing will be killed off the show.
Larry Hagman passed away on Friday but the TV show that made him a household name will continue without him. The rebooted version of Dallas is currently midway through production of season two, but the producers plan to incorporate the death of Hagman into the script. Larry, who died after losing his battle with cancer aged 81, will have his role as JR Ewing written out of the drama. A statement from Warner Bros. said: ‘Dallas is midway in production on Season 2 and this sad news will be incorporated into the storyline.’ It is not clear how JR will leave the show … but an insider said all of the cast were tremendously sad at the news. Executive producers Cynthia Cidre and Michael M. Robin said on behalf of the show’s cast and crew: ‘Larry Hagman was a giant, a larger-than-life personality whose iconic performance as J.R. Ewing will endure as one of the most indelible in entertainment history. ‘He truly loved portraying this globally recognized character, and he leaves a legacy of entertainment, generosity and grace. Everyone at Warner Bros. and in the Dallas family is deeply saddened by Larry’s passing, and our thoughts are with his family and dear friends during this difficult time’ … In honour of Larry’s life and work, Channel 5 [in the UK] will be putting out an exclusive 30 minute programme: ‘A Tribute to Larry Hagman: At home with JR’. It will be on Sunday night at 9pm. Hagman returned to Dallas to reprise his role as cunning villain J.R. in the show’s reboot, which started airing in June of this year. ‘Larry was back in his beloved Dallas, re-enacting the iconic role he loved most,’ the star’s family said in a statement. ‘Larry’s family and close friends had joined him in Dallas for the Thanksgiving holiday. When he passed, he was surrounded by loved ones. It was a peaceful passing, just as he had wished for. The family requests privacy at this time.’
Ugh, this is still such sad news … but, honestly, I completely believe that Hagman would want the show to move forward without him and I’m certain he would much prefer for the J.R. character to be killed off rather than be recast. Those of you who remember the original version of Dallas back in the 80’s should remember that the J.R. Ewing character was almost killed off one season. The character was shot (but not killed) and the primary focus of the follow-up season revolved around the question, Who Shot J.R.? I can’t even tell you how big a deal this moment was in TV history. It’s very sad that the character has to be lost but it’s even more sad that the amazing actor who brought the character to life is gone forever. As they say, the show must go on … but it will never be the same without Larry Hagman.