Larry Hagman, the actor who brought us two enduring TV characters among other roles, died yesterday of cancer at at Medical City in Dallas. He portrayed astronaut Major Anthony Nelson on the 1965-1970 TV series I Dream of Jeannie and then the notorious J.R. Ewing in the 1979-1991 series Dallas. Dallas was resurrected as a new series last summer.
The role of J.R. transformed Mr. Hagman’s life. He rocketed from being a merely well-known TV actor on I Dream of Jeannie and the son of Broadway legend Mary Martin, to the kind of international fame known only by the likes the Beatles and Muhammad Ali.
Mr. Hagman made his home in California with his wife of 59 years, the former Maj Axelsson. Despite obvious physical frailty, he gamely returned to Dallas to film season one and part of season two of TNT’s Dallas reboot.
Friends were in shock Friday, especially those who saw him only days ago. But those close to him say he knew the end was coming and he was glad to have his family in town for Thanksgiving.