Larry Hagman: Remembering a True TV Legend

When Larry Hagman passed away, TV lost one of its true icons

Credit: TNT

The late, great Larry Hagman will appear in the first six episodes of the second season of Dallas

Larry Hagman, the Dallas villain and TV icon, leaves behind a giant gap to be filled

The term “TV icon” tends to be thrown about a bit lightly, but there’s no denying it’s an apt description for the late Larry Hagman, who succumbed to fatal throat cancer on November 23 at 81. 

The son of Broadway actress Mary Martin, Hagman enjoyed a television career that spanned seven decades, ranging from guest-starring on Lloyd Bridges’ Sea Hunt at age 25 to his ’60s sitcom success on I Dream of Jeannie to this year’s reboot of Dallas, which found him reprising his most famous role. 

J.R. Ewing was very good to Hagman, and he never took the success of Dallas for granted.

Larry Hagman, J.R, and Dallas

When the opportunity came to once more place that famous white Stetson on his head and embody the devious oil magnate, Hagman embraced the opportunity at an age when most people have long since retired. 

“How many people do you know working at 80?” Hagman quipped this January during the TV Critics Association press tour. “And doing a job that they love with the people he loves? Oh yeah, I’m a very lucky man.” 

When he said that, Hagman was already battling what he claimed was “a very common and treatable form of cancer,” but he refused to let illness prevent him from sliding back into the role “like a pair of old slippers,” he said. Retirement? Unthinkable.

“Retirement from something I make a lot of money at? And love to do and have fun doing it?” Hagman scoffed in one of his final interviews, with Entertainment Tonight. “Uh-uh. Not me, honey. Retire and die.” In the end, it was fitting that Hagman passed away while in Dallas, where he had been working on the show’s upcoming season. 

Not only does Hagman’s death end an auspicious TV career, it also leaves a huge void in the new Dallas, which was one of the year’s biggest basic-cable hits.

Hagman’s death isn’t expected to delay the season-two premiere, scheduled to debut at the end of January; in fact, Hagman had already completed filming the season’s first six episodes, although how this affects the rest of the season remains to be seen. In the meantime, producers have their work cut out for them to craft an epic send-off befitting one of television’s all-time great villains.

Originally published in TVW. For daily programming updates and on-screen Entertainment news, subscribe to the free TVW e-newsletters, or purchase a subscription to the weekly magazine.