With his white cowboy hat and his smarmy grin, Larry Hagman created one of the most iconic television villains of the 1980′s in the amoral, conniving, and even slightly evil J.R. Ewing. Hagman passed away last night at a Dallas hospital from complications from throat cancer. Linda Gray, who played Sue Ellen on the show “Dallas”, was at his side along with many of Hagman’s family and friends. Hagman had fought cancer for some time, having a bout of alcoholism induced cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer back in the 1990′s.
Grey stated that “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, funny, loving and talented, and I will miss him enormously.”
The son of Mary Martin, Hagman would go on to become a star himself when he starred in 1965′s “I Dream of Jeannie”, a tv sitcom about Major Anthony Nelson, an astronaut who finds a beautiful genie in a bottle.
“Dallas” would make Hagman an even bigger star when it debuted in 1978. J.R. Ewing would even influence many subsequent villains on television and movie including Doc Hopper who always seemed to be a cross between Colonel Sanders and J.R. The speculation surrounding the shooting of J.R. on the night-time soap-opera would inspire a storyline on the “Simpsons” about who shot Mr. Burns, the amoral nuclear tycoon.
According to Hagman, JR was not suppose to be the focus of Dallas, but that changed when the actor made him more outrageous and compelling.