Actor Larry Hagman Dead at Age 81

Posted by at 12:58 pm on November 24, 2012

Larry Hagman, the actor best known as the ruthless oilman J.R. Ewing on TV’s Dallas, died Friday afternoon. He was 81.Members of his family said Hagman died of complications stemming from his recent battle with cancer. “Larry was back in his beloved Dallas, re-enacting the iconic role he loved most,” the 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.”

TNT, which airs the current version of Dallas, issued the following statement: “All of us at TNT are deeply saddened at the news of Larry Hagman’s passing. 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.”

Born to actress Mary Martin and district attorney Larry Hagman in Fort Worth, Tex., Hagman decided to follow in his mother’s footsteps after attending New York’s Bard College — first by appearing in regional theater and then by moving to England to join the cast of his mom’s stage musical, South Pacific. After a tour of duty with the U.S. Air Force (he met his wife, Maj Axelsson, while stationed in England), Hagman returned to New York to perform on Broadway.

For 14 years, Hagman played the love-him-or-hate-him millionaire J.R.Ewing. The popular show’s infamous Nov. 21, 1980 episode — resolving the previous season finale’s “Who shot J.R.?” cliffhanger — remains the second-highest-rated TV show in history. When TNT rebooted Dallas last summer, with Hagman on board. The rest of the cast included other original cast members as well, along with a new generation of the Ewing clan. But last October Hagman announced he was diagnosed with cancer, and said he hoped to continue in his role on the show’s second season.

“As J.R. I could get away with anything — bribery, blackmail and adultery,” Hagman said at the time in a statement. “But I got caught by cancer. I do want everyone to know that it is a very common and treatable form of cancer. I will be receiving treatment while working on the new Dallas series. I could not think of a better place to be than working on a show I love, with people I love. Besides, as we all know, you can’t keep J.R. down!” According to the Dallas Morning News, in addition to his wife, Mr. Hagman is survived by a daughter, Kristina Hagman, a son, Preston Hagman, and five granddaughters.

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