Larry Hagman, 1931-2012
'Dallas' Star Larry Hagman Dies in Texas
Larry Hagman, scheming oil baron J.R. Ewing on TV's long-running soap 'Dallas', dies at 81 from complications from his battle with cancer.PT0M40S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2a22w 620 349 November 26, 2012
Fervour for the television show Dallas was intense in 1980, when the Queen Mother met actor Larry Hagman and joined the worldwide chorus asking: ''Who shot J.R.?''
''Not even for you, ma'am,'' replied Hagman, who portrayed the villainous oil baron, J.R. Ewing, at the centre of the popular prime-time soap from 1978 until 1991.
An estimated 300 million viewers in 57 countries had seen J.R. get shot by an unseen assailant, a season-ending plot twist that is credited with popularising the cliffhanger in TV series.
Larry Hagman Dead at 81
In this 2008 file photo, actor Larry Hagman poses in front of the Southfork Ranch mansion made famous in the television show, 'Dallas', in Parker, Texas. Photo: AP
Hagman, who became a television star in the 1960s starring in the sitcom I Dream of Jeannie, died on Friday at a Dallas hospital aged 81.
A year ago, Hagman announced his second bout with cancer. He had spoken candidly about decades of drinking that led to cirrhosis of the liver and, in 1995, a life-saving liver transplant.
As an actor, Hagman came with a serious pedigree. He was the son of Mary Martin, a legendary star of Broadway musicals best known for originating the role of Peter Pan in the 1950s. On Dallas, Hagman's J.R. was the man viewers loved to hate, a scheming Texan in a land of plenty. Much of the show's run paralleled the nation's fascination with big money and big business in the 1980s, and the role made him an international star.
''Born to play villainy'' … Larry Hagman as J.R. Ewing. Photo: AP
''Here is a man born to play villainy,'' TV critic Howard Rosenberg wrote soon after the show's debut. ''His performance on Dallas is a salute to slime.'' By his own admission, Hagman drank his way through Dallas. Champagne was his ''poison''. He would uncork a bottle by 9am and keep the bubbly flowing all day. He once poured bourbon on his Corn Flakes.
Diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver in 1992, Hagman said he became an instant teetotaller. He developed a cancerous tumour on his liver, which led to the transplant.
When Hagman arrived in Hollywood in the 1960s, he had appeared in half a dozen Broadway plays and spent two years on the daytime soap, The Edge of Night. From five TV pilots, Hagman chose to read for the part of astronaut Tony Nelson on I Dream of Jeannie. The show plugged into the nation's space mania and owed a creative debt to another hit series, Bewitched.
Larry Martin Hagman was born on September 21, 1931, in Fort Worth. He was largely raised by his maternal grandmother in Texas and Los Angeles until she died when he was 12. Placed in a series of boarding schools, Hagman was a disciplinary problem and started drinking at 15.
In the 1950s, he moved to England to take a role in a production of South Pacific that starred his mother, then spent four years in the US Air Force. He met Swede Maj Axelsson and they wed in 1954. Hagman appeared in more than 80 TV shows and about 20 films. His survivors include Maj and children Heidi and Preston.
Valerie Nelson, Los Angeles Times