Welcome back from the long weekend (assuming that you got one). Unfortunately, we start this week with some sad news. ‘Dallas’ star Larry Hagman passed away on Friday at the age of 81.
The actor first shot to stardom in the mid-1960s as the straight man to Barbara Eden’s goofy genie in the hit sitcom ‘I Dream of Jeannie’. Of course, he’s most famous for his iconic role as the scheming oil tycoon J.R. Ewing in the primetime soap ‘Dallas’, which ran on CBS for 14 seasons from 1978 to 1991, and was recently revived again this past summer on the TNT network. The original show was a major ratings smash that established the now-common convention of the season finale cliffhanger. 83 million viewers tuned in to watch the third season premiere episode, which answered the question “Who shot J.R.?” and still remains the second highest-rated television episode in history, topped only by the ‘M*A*S*H’ series finale.
Hagman had suffered his share of health problems in the past, many tied to his history of alcoholism. Cirrhosis nearly took his life in the early 1990s until he cleaned up his act and had a liver transplant. His death on Friday came at the hands of cancer.
Along with several of his original co-stars, Hagman returned to ‘Dallas’ for TNT’s revival, and clearly relished the chance to slip back into the J.R. Ewing character. His performance as the deliciously evil master manipulator stole every scene he was in, and was easily the most entertaining aspect of the better-than-expected series. Viewers obviously agreed. The show was a solid hit over the summer and was renewed for a second season.
A spokesperson for TNT reports that Hagman already shot some scenes for Season 2 prior to his passing, but it’s unknown as yet whether any of that footage will ultimately be used.