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Larry Hagman (1931-2012), forever known as the iconic J.R. Ewing

Larry Hagman passed away from complications from cancer Friday. CREDIT: AP

Larry Hagman passed away from complications from cancer Friday. CREDIT: AP

Atlanta-based TNT revived the classic 1980s night-time soap “Dallas” earlier this year, bringing back iconic evil oil man J.R. Ewing, played with uncommon zeal by Larry Hagman.

But partway through production of season two shot in Dallas, 81-year-old Hagman passed Friday from complications of cancer.

He absolutely loved playing J.R. again, joining Linda Gray and Patrick Duffy as part of the older generation working with the new generation. More than three decades after the classic “Who Shot J.R.?” episode in 1980, he came back on TNT with his signature cowboy hat and evil-looking eyebrows intact.

“It’s just like coming home,” he told me in an interview earlier this year before the revival debuted on TNT to big numbers.

He managed to get through last year’s first ten episodes despite being treated for an unspecified cancer.

“I’m doing good,” he said to me in June. “I seem to be doing good – in total remission.” But he wouldn’t reveal the type of cancer and the family statement released today didn’t say.

He said he had become a vegetarian and during treatment had lost 30 pounds. He said he hoped to keep 20 of those pounds off.

Deadline.com said Hagman has shot at least six episodes out of 15 for season two, set to return January 28, 2013.  TNT may have to take a break from production to give writers time to reflect J.R.’s death, the story said. TNT says he will be in “several” episodes for sure and released this statement:

All of us at TNT are deeply saddened at the news of Larry Hagman’s 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.

The “Dallas” reboot/revival acted as if 20 years had passed and the cameras just turned back on. J.R. began season one in a nursing home, catatonic and depressed, broken and broke. His cheating, scheming, nasty ways seemed to be over. But when he found out Bobby Ewing wanted to sell Southfork Ranch to a conservancy, he bounced back into action. He worked with his previously estranged son, John Ross, to get the deed back. He also spent time in Las Vegas trying to figure out what his arch-nemesis Cliff Barnes was up to. He came back when Bobby had a medical emergency.

John Ross teamed with his cousin Christopher (Bobby’s son) in a new Ewing company. But John Ross had J.R. hunger for power and paranoia. He asked J.R. in the first season finale to “teach me every dirty trick to take the company away from Christopher and Elena,” who was John Ross’ girlfriend (and Christopher’s ex.). J.R.’s response? “Now that’s my son, from tip to tail.”

Hagman noted, “He has a lot to learn. I become one of his great teachers — of all the wrong things.”

He said one big difference about the 2012 version vs. the 1980s version: it’s much faster paced. Back in the slower-paced days, “they would do lots of lingering shots. They’d pull in and pull back. Now, they just end one subject and move to another. They fit four or five themes in one episode now. It’s daunting for me to follow the whole thing.”

I first spoke with Hagman in 2010 before his appearance at an “I Dream of Jeannie” reunion at Dragon*Con.

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8 comments Add your comment

Sara

November 24th, 2012
4:49 pm

In Larry Hagman’s honor, I’m going to have a “Bourbon & Branch” this evening. RIP!

Anderson

November 24th, 2012
5:36 pm

R.I.P. Larry Hagman.

LH portrayed my all-time favorite tv character (J.R. Ewing) on my all-time favorite tv series (Dallas).

790 The Thug: Bad Radio for Bad People

November 24th, 2012
6:18 pm

The entities of “J.R.’ and Mr. Hagman had become so intertwined in the public eye, my first thought upon reading the headline of ” ‘J.R. Ewing’ Passes Away,” as several online media outlets put it, my first thought was “Who Shot Him?”

Rest in Peace, Mr. Hagman.

Thank you for your decades of coming into our homes and entertaining us.

Nick Wright

November 25th, 2012
11:13 am

It was throat cancer, if you’re interested.

http://news.yahoo.com/larry-hagman-dead-81-portrayed-notorious-tv-villain-044041015.html

Though this is the most fascinating thing I found out about Hagman:

“In his later years, Hagman became an advocate for organ transplants and an anti-smoking campaigner. He also was devoted to solar energy, telling the New York Times he had a $750,000 solar panel system at his Ojai estate, and made a commercial in which he portrayed a J.R. Ewing who had forsaken oil for solar power. He was a longtime member of the Peace and Freedom Party, a minor leftist organization in California.

Hagman told the Times that after death he wanted his remains to be “spread over a field and have marijuana and wheat planted and harvest it in a couple of years and then have a big marijuana cake, enough for 200 to 300 people. People would eat a little of Larry.”

Dum-Bass

November 25th, 2012
6:30 pm

Anybody that liked DALLAS would like “NASHVILLE” on Wed. nites at 10PM. Just got picked up for a full season by ABC. Don’t usually like those type shows but this one is good, well-produced and written. Lots of good original music too!

Eric

November 26th, 2012
2:45 am

It will remain to be seen on how the current incarnation of ‘Dallas’ (seen on TNT) will address the passing of the legendary Larry Hagman (best known as J.R. Ewing). Long-time Sesame Street director/writer (and former daytime soap writer) Emily Squires also passed away the exact same day as Hagman. R.I.P. to both Hagman and Squires, and may their legacies and memories forever live on.

RichT

November 26th, 2012
9:39 am

He’ll forever be remembered by me as Major Anthony Nelson from I Dream of Jeannie.

Kar

November 26th, 2012
9:48 am

I was always touched by his devotion to his wife of 60 years, Maj. I remember him not wanting to take work away from her and tried to be with her daily, even if she didn’t remember him due to her illness.