Dallas Icon Larry Hagman Dead at 81, Remembered as 'An Element of Pure Americana'

Larry Hagman Dies at 81TV icon Larry Hagman, best known for playing the iconic J.R. Ewing on both CBS’ original Dallas and TNT’s current incarnation, passed away on Friday at Medical City Dallas hospital from cancer complications. He was 81.

Hagman — shortly after TNT’s Dallas update was announced in summer 2011 — revealed that he was being treated for “a very common and treatable form of cancer,” later specified as Stage 2 throat cancer. After enduring chemotherapy and radiation treatment, Hagman announced in mid-2012. “I beat that thing. I am in remission now. All good!”

Dallas is currently in production on its second season, scheduled to premiere on Jan. 28, 2013. Hagman had filmed six episodes.

“Larry was back in his beloved Dallas, re-enacting the iconic role he loved most,” the Hagman family said in a statement to the Dallas Morning News. “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.” (According to reports, Hagman’s Dallas co-stars Patrick Duffy and Linda Gray were among the loved ones by his side.)

UPDATE: Warner Bros. TV and Dallas executive producers Cynthia Cidre and Michael M. Robin, in a joint statement, remember Hagman as “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.” TNT in turn touts the Dallas star as “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.”

Hagman’s myriad other television roles includes runs on Nip/Tuck and Desperate Housewives, the short-lived 1997 CBS drama Orleans and of course all five seasons of I Dream of Jeannie.Jeannie herself, Barbara Eden, tributed Hagman on her Facebook page late Friday:

I still cannot completely express the shock and impact from the news that Larry Hagman has passed. I can still remember, that first day on Zuma Beach with him, in the frigid cold. From that day for five more years, Larry was the center of so many fun, wild, shocking… and in retrospect, memorable moments that will remain in my heart forever.

He was such a key element in my life for so long and even, years after I Dream of Jeannie; our paths crossed many times. Throughout various productions I had the pleasure of watching the Texas Tornado that was Larry Hagman. Amidst a whirlwind of big laughs, big smiles and unrestrained personality Larry was always, simply Larry. You couldn’t fault him for it, it was just who he was….

I, like many others believed he had beat Cancer and yet we are reminded that life is never guaranteed. My deepest condolences go out to his wife Maj, his son and daughter and his grandchildren, as well as his friends in this time of his passing. I can honestly say that we’ve lost not just a great actor, not just a television icon, but an element of pure Americana.

Goodbye Larry, there was no one like you before and there will never be anyone like you again.

Hagman is survived by his wife of more than 58 years, Maj, who is currently suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, two children and five grandchildren.

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71 Comments
  1. Meg says:

    Well that just ruined my night :/

  2. MelindaB says:

    I am truly shocked. I did not watch the Dallas remake, but had planned to catch up. How sad that his wife is suffering from Alzheimer’s and likely was lost to him for some time.

  3. Stacie says:

    So sad to hear that. Although I didn’t watch Dallas, I did grow up on I Dream of Jeannie on Nick @ Nite. I saw him recently on a talk show talking about the Dallas reboot. So it’s very sad to hear of his passing.

  4. Jen says:

    Dallas will never be the same again. You’ll be missed . . .

  5. TMW says:

    Very sad news. How many episodes had been in production when Hagman was hospitalized. I wonder if JR will die sometime during its second season.

    • Robby Holmes says:

      They have already filmed 6 episodes. I’m sure this will change the season. :(

      • Brian says:

        I hope that they use all the footage they have of him. I am an aspiring actor and especially because it was a performance that Larry was incredibly proud of, I think that the best way to honor him would be to show all the hard work he did before he passed. I agree that his death will change the season but the powers that be should work incredibly hard to let his last brilliant work as JR see the airwaves

  6. BelleRumpleFan says:

    RIP Larry

  7. My mom LOVED the original Dallas and I’ve always been a fan of I Dream of Jeannie. I’m sad to hear he’s gone. :(

  8. Brock says:

    Love Dallas, Love Jeannie. Loved Larry. :(

  9. V says:

    Awwwww!!! Very sad news. Those eyebrows were unforgettable!! Maybe he rest in peace.

  10. Will says:

    Man that is awful news. I’m only 31 but for some reason Dallas is my favorite tv show ever. “Sue Ellen you’re a drunk, a tramp and an unfit mother” RIP Larry

    • Nero theTVFiddler says:

      Another great Larry/JR line that JR tells Miss Ellie’s friend Clayton Farlow [the great Howard Keel] during an argument between the two men that Bobby eventually has to break up –

      “Farlow – you’ve got a lot of nerve – you’re courting my mother, you’re in love with my wife and now you’re living in my Daddy’s house – who do you think you are?” Larry was the best – RIP.

  11. Martha Mitovich Leiss says:

    Yes he was famous for being JR, but he will always be my favorite Major Anthony Nelson…RIP Larry Hagman~

  12. I can’t remember the last time I was actually choked up over a celebrity death. Friday nights were for making popcorn and watching Dallas with my mom, even if I was only eight and had no idea what was going on other than Bobby = good, J.R. = bad. Thank you, Mr. Hagman, for bringing one of the most dastardly of villians to life in such an entertaining way for generations of fans! I hope the new series can carry on the tradition and make The King Ewing proud.

  13. Lindsey says:

    I watched the original Dallas with my momma when I was a little girl and we watch the new Dallas together now… Rest in Peace Mr. Hagman you will forever be one of the greatest actors to grace the screen.

  14. Chloe says:

    So very sad to hear this. He was a classic & in my opinion, the most important character on Dallas. I loved the original Dallas & also Dallas 2012. He will truly be missed. :(

  15. GeoDiva says:

    He was so wonderful in the new Dallas…..RIP Larry.

  16. My sincere condolences to his friends and family. A sad loss for us, his fans.

  17. eliana says:

    This is so sad :(

  18. cat says:

    Yeah, I never watched Dallas but grew up with J.R. in pop culture and this is sad news. He *was* Dallas. I also remember him in FAIL SAFE.

  19. Amy says:

    Oh no…..this is so sad

  20. Hillary says:

    Very sad news. Rest in peace Larry Hagman.

  21. Lynne says:

    I was too young to watch the original but I got into the new Dallas and immediately loved JR. So sad he is gone. RIP Mr Hagman. :(

  22. Nero theTVFiddler says:

    Very sad news – Larry starred in two of the iconic broadcast television series of all time – I Dream of Jeannie and Dallas. He also starred in two short run TV series that I really liked in the early ’70s : Here We Go Again [1973] w/Diane Baker and Nita Talbot and [one of my all-time favorites] – The Good Life [1971-’72] w/Donna Mills. Truly a television treasure – he will be greatly missed. RIP Larry.

    • Joan says:

      Thanks for mentioning Nita Talbot – always one of my favorites as well. Larry Hagman was wonderful! Imagine that this was a role that was not to be the focus of the show until Hagman got a hold of it. I remember the summer of Who Shot J.R. very well. Boy you couldn’t do that today because of the Internet leaking everything. But it was sure fun guessing.

  23. mike says:

    damn this sucks

  24. nguber says:

    Reblogged this on iwatch2much and commented:
    So sad. I know he had been sick but they said his cancer was in remission. I guess it came back again. He was one of the reasons I was especially loving the new Dallas on TNT.

  25. Staci says:

    He was so fun to work with on ORLEANS. Definitely one of a kind. Sad to hear Maj has Alzheimers also. Larry just never wanted to retire, he loved the work.

  26. Scott J. says:

    I’m old enough to have seen I Dream of Jeannie and Dallas when they were first-run-and I watched them both. I never thought I’d see Jeannie and her “master” get martied, but, they did. Who shot JR? In TV land, it was Kristin (Mary Crosby) but in real life, the answer was no one-Larry Hagman lived on for many years and even reprised his role in a movie or two and the Dallas reboot from last summer. Major Nelson/JR Ewing but mostly Larry Hagman — you will be missed. Rest in peace my TV friend.

  27. Bill says:

    He was one of a kind. He was terrific on the new Dallas. I can’t see it continuing without him unless his family okays his desath being worked into the show; and even then it will be a long shot. Requiescat in pace, J.R. !!

  28. Lisa says:

    This is a very sad day for fans of Dallas. JR Ewing was one of the greatest characters on television and Larry Hagman was an icon. He will be missed.

  29. Marie says:

    OMG I can’t believe this. How will Dallas go on without Larry and without J.R Ewing. RIP Larry.

  30. tiffanie says:

    RIP Larry Hagman J.R. will be missed Dallas will never be the same

  31. melissafred says:

    I grew up watching the original Dallas and have been pleasantly surprised by the new Dallas. I am so glad that despite cancer and a liver transplant, we were blessed by one last look at the sneering, conniving J.R.that an entire generation loved to hate. Yet another icon has left us. RIP Mr. Hagman. You will be sorely missed.

  32. BrianR says:

    Goodnight Major Nelson and J.R. you will be missed Mr. Hagman R.I.P.

  33. JR is the best character ever written for in TV and no better actor than Larry Hagman could have portrayed him. JR can simply not be replaced. I do hope the show can write him off in a way that Mr. Hagman would have wanted. He will truly be missed.

  34. Venessa says:

    RIP Larry, I’m glad your final was playing JR. Many memories I have of Dallas.

  35. Tom says:

    I am so sorry he has passed IDoJ was my favorite show growin up as a kid.. I thought he almost was dead 15 years ago when he had another cancer of kidney thing but he proved me wrong and he was here another 15 years, right on Larry!

  36. TV Gord says:

    He’s one of those personalities you think will live forever…and in a way, he will. This is a very sad day in the world of television. I hope Maj will be okay through this terribly sad time in the Hagman family.

  37. Joe Petitjean says:

    RIP Larry you were truly one of the giants of primetime television

  38. luli says:

    wow, i’m in shock. this is really sad, RIP Larry. my deepest condolonces to his family :(

  39. Doctor W says:

    This one hurt. Rest in Peace, Larry

  40. Mark says:

    I hope they do a Jock/Jim Davis style episode for JR/Larry Hagman with flashbacks galore and have as many of the old cast as possible.

  41. rachelle says:

    sad news indeed. i loved him in Jeannie and in the new Dallas. I’m happy he was surrounded by his family. i hope he rests in peace.

  42. stan lear says:

    Vivid pictures still flying in the air with saddening fading memories.

    I remember being in a large Carson City casino in November of 1980 to close a gold mining project.with many businessmen. Suddenly (can’t remember if it was 9PM or 10PM) the lion’s share of the patrons in that casino (along with my partners) dissipated. I asked somebody que passa and my pit boss said everybody was running to a TV to find out “Who shot J.R.” I went into my room and I too watched (with tens of other millions) as it was aired.

    When I returned home, I pushed the start button on a relatively new invention to see if that machine worked and if I had programmed it properly. It was a home run and I watched again “Who shot J.R” on my VCR.

    That particular first Friday in November in 1980 was surreal: the brilliance of Larry Hagman shone like an ever-bright star while another Star had just died – namely Steve McQueen.

    Most people loved to hate J.R. while those same many hated to not love him. He was pure genius.

    Thank you Larry and the entire Dallas ensemble for delivering so much joy to me and my sweetheart on many Friday nights.

    RIP

  43. Carrie says:

    Terrible news. He seemed like such an awesome guy. He was certainly a lot of fun to watch as J.R. Very sad.

  44. Rubin Rhodd says:

    Larry Hagman know has JR you will be missed say Hello to my brother Robert Comstock and my mom Mary Rhodd and my dad Earl Rhodd and all my other friend that are looking down a pond us may you all rest in peace

  45. Shell says:

    What I think is most wonderful about Larry Hagman is that he truly lived until he died.So many people did not see this coming,and I am happy that he left on such a high note-another hit show under his belt and so many new fans to remember him for his amazing talent.Long live J.R. in all his fans hearts.
    My sympathies to his family.

  46. Mel says:

    Who killed J.R.? Cancer – you bast@rd! Rip dear Mr. Hagman.

  47. JJ says:

    R.I.P You’ll truly be missed.

  48. Sue says:

    What a great actor we have all lost today but will never be forgotten …We all Thank you for the many many years of iconic moments on the big screen were we can continue to see him ,,,,our heart felt condolences

  49. Cat says:

    RIP Larry knowing you lived a life well done! Bravo!!