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. Annette says:

    I do remember when everyone was talking about “Who shot JR?” It was on everyone’s lips. But what I remember the most is having a HUGE crush on Major Nelson! What a dreamboat!!!! Another great performer has been taken from us. What a sad, sad day! RIP Mr. Hagman.

  2. Jrs says:

    I’m sad this morning. Was a huge fan of the original Dallas and was skeptical about the new version. But it happily surprised me. And even though the new cast is talented and the writing was pretty good, the show never sizzled like it did when JR Ewing was on screen!!! I remember my glee when he first showed up again with that sparkle in his eye. Just took me right back to the 80’s. Larry and JR, you’ll be missed. But thank you and rest in peace!

  3. Angie says:

    The tribute from Barbara Eden was touching. I remember reading in the paper a long time ago that Barbara Eden & Larry Hagman were truly friends. I wish the very best for Larry’s wife & family. You have my sincere sympathies

  4. would love to see the old dallas play reruns.

  5. Angela says:

    Losing too many legends this year. Shame to hear this news-rest in peace, Mr. Hagman.

  6. Linda Britt says:

    RIP Larry. My prayer are with your family and friends. Lord please watch over his love ones.

  7. BRIAN says:

    RIP LARRY HAGMAN, AS SOMEONE WHO GREW UP WATCHING RERUNS OF JEANNIE TO MORALLY CORRUPT JOHN ROSS EWING ,THE SECOND,YOU MADE TV VIEWING SO MUCH FUN NOW AFTER 81 YEARS YOU KNOW JOIN ALL OF YOUR FELLOW ACTORS/ACTRESSES WHO PASSED ON THIS YEAR. WITHOUT YOUR PERFORMANCE
    DYNASTY,FALCON CREST & KNOTS LANDING WOULD HAVE’NT EXSITED IF IT WEREN’T TO YOU AND THE CAST OF DALLAS . SHOW WILL GO ON WITHOUT YOU
    BUT YOU WILL BE TRUYLY BE MISSED

  8. So so sorry to hear about mr. hagman passing , I really enjoyed him in both the old and the new dallas and wish his family all the peace and love needed to get through this difficult time.

  9. Alex says:

    I’m glad he got to return to Dallas and see the show succeed again before the end.

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