Actor Larry Hagman, the North Texas native who became world-famous as the conniving and mischievous J.R. Ewing on the TV show Dallas, died Friday at a Dallas hospital. He was 81.
Mr. Hagman died at 4:20 p.m. Friday at Medical City Dallas Hospital of complications of cancer, his family said in a statement. Former co-stars Linda Gray and Patrick Duffy were among those with him when he died.
"Larry was back in his beloved Dallas, re-enacting the iconic role he loved most," the statement said. "Larrys 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."
Mr. Hagman's death was first reported by The Dallas Morning News.
The iconic role of J.R. Ewing transformed Mr. Hagman's life. He rocketed from being a merely well-known TV actor on I Dream of Jeannie and the son of Broadway legend Mary Martin to international fame.
Dallas ran first from 1978-91, and was revived this year on TNT with three original cast members Mr. Hagman, Gray and Duffy. The show is filmed entirely in Dallas.
Mr. Hagman made his home in California with his wife of nearly 60 years, the former Maj Axelsson. Despite obvious physical frailty, he gamely returned to Dallas to film season one of the Dallas reboot and part of season two.
Gray's agent, Jeffrey Lane, said the actress was at Mr. Hagmans bedside when he died, according to The Sun in London. He said Duffy was also present.
They had been friends for 35 years and they had worked together for many years, so obviously it is devastating, Lane told The Sun.
Larry Hagman was born in Fort Worth in 1931 to Ben Hagman and his teen-age bride, Mary Martin, a Weatherford native, who went on to become a beloved Broadway star. Her signature roles were in South PacificPeter Pan.
He lived in Weatherford only until age 5, then moved away until returning as a student at Weatherford High School, according to Star-Telegram archives. He graduated in 1949, playing junior-varsity football briefly and boxing under a coach who went on to become a U.S. House speaker, Jim Wright.
In 1994, the Weatherford Chamber of Commerce named Hagman its Citizen of the Year.
In 2003, he told Star-Telegram columnist Bud Kennedy, I wanted to be a cowboy.
But after working in an oil-field equipment factory for businessman Jess Hall Sr., and baling hay and dynamite Parker County caliche for the familys swimming pool, It made me understand how hard physical labor is. I figured there had to be a better way to earn a living. I came home and said, I want to be an actor.
Years before Dallas, Hagman gained TV fame as a nice guy with the fluffy 1965-70 NBC comedy I Dream of Jeannie. He played Capt. Tony Nelson, an astronaut whose life is disrupted when he finds a comely genie, portrayed by Barbara Eden, and takes her home to live with him.
In 1995, Mr. Hagman had a liver transplant. He had advanced cirrhosis of the liver, which he blamed on years of heavy drinking. In July 1995 a malignant tumor was found on his liver.
He became an ambassador for organ donation.
WFAA/Channel 8's Ron Corning talked with Hagman and co-star Linda Gray just a few weeks ago. Here's that clip:
Entertainment Weekly reports that TNT has issued a statement: All of us at TNT are deeply saddened at the news of Larry Hagmans 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.
Also in the Entertainment Weekly report is this, from Dallas studio Warner Bros. and executive producers Cynthia Cidre and Michael M. Robin, and the shows 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 Larrys passing, and our thoughts are with his family and dear friends during this difficult time.
Hagman also starred in two short-lived sitcoms, The Good Life (NBC, 1971-72) and Here We Go Again (ABC, 1973). His film work included well-regarded performances in The Group, Harry and Tonto and Primary Colors.
Contains material from the Associated Press.