The man who created one of television’s most iconic villains, Larry Hagman, died Friday at the age of 81 from complications of cancer.
Mr. Hagman who got his first real big break playing astronaut Major Tony Nelson in the hit comedy “I Dream of Jeannie” in the 1960’s was also known as “Master” to a 2,000-year-old scantily clad genie played by Barbara Eden.
Barbara Eden said in a Facebook post. “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. I, like many others, believed he had beat cancer and yet we are reminded that life is never guaranteed. Goodbye Larry. There was no one like you before and there will never be anyone like you again.”
Hagman hit television superstardom in 1978 playing the role of J.R. Ewing, a scheming Texas oil tycoon, in the prime-time hit “Dallas.”
“Dallas” originally premiered as a five-part miniseries and focused more on Bobby Ewing (Patrick Duffy) and Pamela Barnes (Victoria Principal), but the producers quickly saw how popular J.R. was. Hagman’s character of J.R. quickly became the villain viewers loved to hate.
The episode “Who Shot J.R.?” in which someone tries to kill J.R. in a cliffhanger had Americans guessing on who actually pulled the trigger. With over 350 million viewers tuned in on November 21, 1980, found out Kristen Shepherd, the sister of J.R.’s wife, shot him. It’s one of the most watched television episodes in history.
In June of 2012, a remake of “Dallas” returned to television after being off the air for 21 years. Larry Hagman had already filmed six of the 15 episodes for season 2 set to begin airing January 28, 2013.
Patrick Duffy said in a statement “Friday I lost one of the greatest friends ever to grace my life. The loneliness is only what is difficult, as Larry’s peace and comfort is always what is important to me, now as when he was here. He was a fighter in the gentlest way, against his obstacles and for his friends. I wear his friendship with honor.”
Mr. Hagman’s family also released this statement, saying.
“Larry was back in his beloved Dallas re-enacting the iconic role he loved most. 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.”
Larry Hagman is survived by his wife, a son, a daughter and five grandchildren