Larry Hagman, the North Texas native who played 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 from complications of his recent battle with cancer, members of his family said.
“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.”
The iconic role of J.R. Ewing metamorphosed 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 the kind of transnational fame known only by the likes of the Beatles and Muhammad Ali.
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 TNT’s Dallas reboot and part of season two.
"Hagman in his role as J.R. was mythic, and as a human he was a hard-working ambassador for Dallas and the underdog.," Mayor Mike Rawlings said Friday night. "I had spent a couple of evenings with his recently, and he was working on his foundation, which he was focused on. And he always pitched in to help the city."
Dallas International Film Festival founder Michael Cain was a close friend of Hagman's. The Dallas star appeared at a festival event in 2011, handing out awards to up-and-coming high-school filmmakers.
"I was blessed to meet Larry and to witness his heart that was so full of passion and charity and mischievousness," Mr. Cain said. "His friendship will be missed by many, including me. Recently on a trip to Santa Monica, I was initiated into a celebration, a ritual that Larry performed with guests as the sun set over the ocean where we shouted out to the sun as the final sliver passed over the hills.
"This day will always be sad for his friends and family, but I know he would want us to stand and shout and celebrate his life and the passion with which he loved and lived it. I just saw one of his final texts to me: 'Thanks...ONWARD...L". Safe travels, Larry. We miss you already."
Linda Gray's agent, Jeffrey Lane, said the actress was at Mr. Hagman's bedside when he died, according to The Sun in London. He said another co-star, Patrick Duffy, was also present. “They had been friends for 35 years and they had worked together for many years, so obviously it is devastating," Mr. Lane told The Sun.
HAGMAN, Larry (Lawrence Martin Hageman)
Born: 9/21/1931, Fort Worth, Texas, U.S.A.
Died: 11/23/2012, Dallas Texas, U.S.A.
Larry Hagman’s westerns – actor:
The Outcasts of Poker Flats (TV) – 1958
The Silver Burro (TV) – 1963
The Hired Hand – 1971 (sheriff)
Sidekicks (TV) – 1974 (Quince Drew)
Dallas (TV) – 1978-1991 (J.R. Ewing)
Dallas: J.R. Returns (TV) – 1996 (J.R. Ewing)
Dallas: War of the Ewings (TV) – 1998 (J.R. Ewing)
Dallas (TV) – 2012 (J.R. Ewing)