Larry Hagman, who played the role of one of the most notorious and conniving villians ever seen on the small screen died yesterday in Texas at 81. Hagman played oil baron J.R. Ewing on television’s long-running nighttime drama Dallas. The original version of the show ran from 1978 to 1991 on CBS. Hagman was the only actor on the show to appear in all 357 episodes.
Hagman was cast as J.R. once again 34 years after the original Dallas aired, for a contemporary version of the show which aired on TNT in June. The original version of Dallas became a symbol for 1980s greed and the TV ratings were through the roof.
The show debuted in 1978 and in 1980, 350 million people around the globe watched to find out who “shot J.R.” as the show became a popular cult obsession and phenomenon. The “Who Shot J.R.” episode was broadcast in March 1980 but the mystery revealing who did was not unveiled until November as producers kept the cliffhanger a secret for six months. What resulted was some of the highest television ratings for any series in history.
In 1992, Hagman was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver as a result of a life of heavy drinking. In 1995, a malignant tumor was discovered and he underwent a successful transplant. Hagman was the son of broadway star Mary Martin. His death yesterday was a result of complications from throat cancer.