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Saturday
Nov242012

TV Icon Larry Hagman, Star of "Dallas" & "I Dream of Jeannie," Dead at 81 

Claire Greenway/Getty Images(DALLAS) -- Iconic TV star Larry Hagman, star of I Dream of Jeannie and Dallas, has died, according to DallasNews.com.  He was 81.

Members of Hagman's family told the paper that Hagman had died Friday at 4:20 p.m. at Medical City Dallas Hospital from complications resulting from a battle with cancer. 

According to the paper, the family said 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.”

In a statement to ABC News provided by her publicist, Hagman's Dallas co-star Linda Gray said, "Larry Hagman was my best friend for 35 years. He was the pied piper of life and brought joy to everyone he knew.  He was creative, generous, funny, loving and talented and I will miss him tremendously.  He was an original and lived life to the full.  The world was a brighter place because of Larry Hagman."  Gray was at Hagman's bedside when he died.

In a posting on her Facebook page, I Dream of Jeannie star Barbara Eden wrote, "As I received the news this evening and as you read this 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." 

She added, "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 am so thankful that this past year I was able to spend time with him and experience yet again ‘Larry’ in all his Big Texas bravado....Goodbye Larry, there was no one like you before and there will never be anyone like you again."

The executive producers, cast and crew of TNT's reboot of Dallas, in which Hagman reprised his role of J.R. Ewing, said in a statement to ABC News, "Larry Hagman was 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."

The son of Broadway star Mary Martin, Hagman started his career in theater and then moved to television.  His breakout role was as Major Tony Nelson in the hit series I Dream of Jeannie, which ran for five years.  In 1977, he got what would become his second iconic role -- that of the villain J.R. Ewing in the prime time soap opera Dallas -- and it rocketed him to stardom. 

The 1980 cliffhanger "Who Shot J.R." episode of Dallas -- in which Hagman's character was shot but not killed -- became a major pop cultural event.  The episode in which the shooter's identity was finally revealed was, at the time, the highest-rated TV episode in U.S. history.  Since then, it has slipped to second, after being overtaken by the final episode of M*A*S*H.  In case you don't remember, it was J.R.'s mistress Kristin who shot him.  Hagman reprised the role of J.R. Ewing in TNT's 2012 reboot of Dallas.

Hagman had health issues in recent years, and underwent a liver transplant in 1995.  He was later diagnosed with throat cancer.

 

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio