Larry Hagman, who played the villain J.R. Ewing on television’s long-running prime-time soap opera Dallas, has died. He was 81.
A source close to Hagman confirmed his passing to NPR but would not speak on the record at the request of the family.
Members of his family told The Dallas Morning News that he died Friday afternoon at the Medical City Dallas Hospital of complications from a battle with cancer. The paper quotes a statement from the family:
“Larry was back in his beloved Dallas, re-enacting the iconic role he loved most. 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.”
Hagman starred in Dallas — which he also produced — from 1978 to 1991. NPR’s Allison Keyes described the series when the show “rebooted” this past summer:
“The trials and tribulations of the fabulously rich Ewings and their sumptuous Southfork ranch captivated viewers for 13 years. From the first show in 1978, brothers Bobby and J.R. Ewing were the faces of an epic battle between good and evil.”
The Hollywood Reporter adds: “His cackle and sparkling Texas-sized grin when bilking, cheating or destroying a rival was a delicious treat.”
Hagman returned to the revamped show, which includes a new generation, despite his cancer treatments. The Hollywood Reporter says Hagman called his form of cancer “very common and treatable.”
As NPR’s Linda Holmes put it in a review of the reboot, he was still “the twinkliest villain in twinkly villain history.”
Before Dallas, he played Tony Nelson on the popular 1960s comedy I Dream of Jeannie. A list of his other acting, directing and producing roles can be found on his IMDB profile. He was also the son of legendary actress Mary Martin.