TV star Larry Hagman dies at 81

 

Larry Hagman, whose portrayal of one of television's most beloved villains, JR Ewing, led the CBS series Dallas to enormous world popularity, has died. He was 81.

Hagman died in Dallas, where he had been filming the sequel series to his famous show. The death was caused by complications arising from cancer, his family said in a statement.

"Larry was back in his beloved hometown of Dallas, re-enacting the iconic role he loved most," the family said.

For a time in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Hagman could lay claim to the title of most famous actor in the world.

Dallas, a soapy saga of a ranch-owning Texas oil family, the Ewings, was a hit in 57 countries.

</p> <p>Its celebrated signature episode, which resolved the question of "Who Shot JR?," a mystery masterfully marketed by the series and CBS, set worldwide viewing records with an estimated 350 million people tuning in for the answer.</p> <p>(Kristen Shepard, the scheming adulterous sister of JR's wife, Sue Ellen, pulled the trigger.)</p> <p>In the US, the episode reached an estimated 83 million people.</p> <p>Few actors enjoyed their fame as much as Hagman, who travelled the world handing out fake $100 bills with his face on them.</p> <p>The rich villainy of JR revived Hagman's career after he had become typecast as a lightweight comic actor for his co-starring role in the successful 1960s sitcom I Dream of Jeannie.</p> <p>The son of famed Broadway actress Mary Martin, Hagman was born in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1931.</p> <p>He was married to the former Maj Axelsson for 59 years. When TNT decided to remount Dallas with a new generation of Ewings, it invited Hagman to return in his JR role.</p> <p>He won numerous plaudits for that reprise, with some critics saying that he remained the best thing about Dallas. The new version was a success for TNT, which ordered a second season.</p> <p>When Hagman died, he was surrounded by family and friends, including his long-time co-star and confidante Linda Gray.</p> <p class="nosyndication bnvideo youtube"><iframe width="600" height="475" frameborder="0" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/GZV3365a7Ew" allowfullscreen=""/></p> <p>"He was the pied piper of life and brought joy to everyone he knew," Gray said in a statement. "I will miss him enormously. He was an original and lived life to the fullest."</p> <p>In addition to his wife, Hagman is survived by a son, a daughter and five granddaughters.</p> <p><strong>New York Times</strong></p>