American actor Larry Hagman, best known for his iconic role as the scheming oil tycoon J. R. Ewing in the US TV series Dallas, has passed away at a hospital in Dallas, Texas after battling throat cancer and cirrhosis of the liver. He was 81.
The son of Broadway star Mary Martin, Hagman was born in Forth Worth, Texas in 1931 and began his acting career on the stage in the early 1950s. After a spell in the United States Air Force Hagman returned to the theatre and also enjoyed several television and film roles before securing his big break in 1965 when he was cast alongside Barbara Eden as astronaut Anthony Nelson in the popular US sitcom I Dream of Jeannie (1965-1970). However, it wasn’t until 1977 that Hagman secured the role for which he would become a household name, starring as J.R. – the eldest son of the Ewing family – in the hit prime-time soap opera Dallas.
Originally intended as a five-part miniseries, Dallas premiered in 1978 and would eventually run for fourteen seasons, with Hagman’s J.R. taking centre stage and becoming one of the best-loved villains in television history. Featuring in classic storylines such as the ‘Who Shot J.R.?’ mystery that gripped audiences in 1980, Hagman secured two Emmy Award nominations and four Golden Globe nominations before the show’s end in 1991. Having appeared in all 357 episodes of Dallas’ original run (as well as five guest appearances in the spin-off Knots Landing), Hagman subsequently reprised the role for several TV movies and returned to the part once again this year in TNT’s relaunched version of the show.