LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Larry Hagman, the villainous J.R. Ewing of “Dallas,” has died.
The Dallas Morning News reported Hagman died this afternoon in Dallas. The family made a statement, “It is with deep regret that the Hagman family announces the passing of Larry Hagman at the age of 81.”
Hagman was in bad health for years but rebounded in the past two years to star in the “Dallas” reboot for TNT.
He had a liver transplant in 1995 after years of hard drinking. Hagman announced in 2011 that he had cancer. He didn’t specify what kind of cancer he had but said at the time it was “very common and very treatable.” In the statement about his passing, his family said his death came from “complications arising from his battle with cancer.”
Hagman passed away at approximately 4:30 p.m. Friday. Family and friends had joined him in Dallas for the Thanksgiving holiday. When he died, he was surrounded by loved loves. The statement added, he had a “peaceful passing, just as he wished for.”
Hagman was also known for the 60′s era sitcom “I Dream of Jeannie” in which he played a long-suffering astronaut whose life is turned upside down when he discovers a genie (Barbara Eden) in a bottle.
Hagman’s battles with the bottle, of the alcoholic variety, were legend in Hollywood. He talked openly about fighting his addiction.
Hagman’s longtime “Dallas” co-stars Patrick Duffy and Linda Gray were reportedly at Hagman’s bedside when he died in a Dallas hospital. The three were starring in the TNT reboot and filming scenes for the show’s second season. (Set to return in January 2013.)
In June 2011, Hagman made more than $500,000 auctioning off some of his personal collectibles from his many years in show business. At the height of his “Dallas” fame, Hagman was the highest paid actor on TV.
The “Who Shot J.R.?” episode of “Dallas” was filmed as a precaution in case CBS couldn’t come to terms with Hagman at the conclusion on the 1980 season. The answer to the question (it was his sister-in-law Kristin) captured one of the largest TV audiences in history on November 21, 1980. Entertainment Weekly lists “Who Shot J.R.?” as one of the ten best TV cliffhangers of all time.
Ex-TV wife Gray, who plays Sue Ellen, said in a statement to CBS News, “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 enormously. He was an original and lived life to the full. The world was a brighter place because of Larry Hagman.”
Hagman was the son of Broadway legend Mary Martin.
While Hagman’s career was marked by a role that cast him as a womanizing cad, he was married to the former Maj Axelsson from 1954-present, one of Hollywood’s most enduring marriages. The couple had two children and five granddaughters.
Hagman, a longtime resident of Malibu, for many years maintained a 43-acre compound in Ojai.