Larry Hagman Dies At Age 81 [VIDEO]
Larry Hagman, the actor who played one of television’s most iconic characters in J.R. Ewing, has died in a Dallas hospital at the age of 81.
Hagman died late Friday afternoon from complications related to his latest bout with cancer.
“Larry was back in his beloved Dallas, re-enacting the iconic role he loved most,” the family says 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.”
Dallas co-stars Linda Gray and Patrick Duffy were at his bedside when he died.Gray’s agent told the the Sun of London “they had been friends for 35 years and they had worked together for many years, so obviously it is devastating.”
“I can honestly say that we’ve lost not just a great actor, not just a television icon, but an element of pure Americana,” I Dream of Jeannie co-star Barbara Eden said in her statement Friday night. “Goodbye, Larry. There was no one like you before and there will never be anyone like you again.”
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 in his role as J.R. was mythic, and as a human he was a hard-working ambassador for Dallas and the underdog.,” Dallas 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.”
He had brought the oilman back to life in the TNT revival of Dallas which was seen not as a remake of the drama but rather a continuation of the series which focused on the sons of J.R. and brother Bobby. The show’s second season is scheduled to begin airing in January.
Dallas peaked in popularity in 1981 when the entire country was gripped in the guessing game of “Who shot J.R?” after the previous season ended with a gunshot and J.R. on the floor. Hagman and the cast were sworn to secrecy and leaks were few in the pre-internet early 80s.
Hagman also played the role of Major Tony Nelson in the 60s sitcom I Dream Of Jeannie in which his character, an astronaut, uncorks a bottle containing genie Barbara Eden who comes to live with him in Florida. The show raised eyebrows at the time for how much of Eden’s naval was seen on the show and the fact a single man lived with a single woman.
Hagman was diagnosed in 1992 with cirrhosis of the liver and acknowledged that he had drank heavily for years. In 1995, a malignant tumor was discovered on his liver and he underwent a transplant.
After his transplant, he became an advocate for organ donation and volunteered at a hospital to help frightened patients.
“I counsel, encourage, meet them when they come in for their operations, and after,” he said in 1996. “I try to offer some solace, like ‘Don’t be afraid, it will be a little uncomfortable for a brief time, but you’ll be OK.’ ”
He also was an anti-smoking activist who took part in “Great American Smoke-Out” campaigns.
Funeral plans were not immediately announced.
Hagman is survived by his wife, Maj Axelsson, and their two adult children, Heidi and Preston.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.