An entire generation of TV viewers and Hollywood are mourning today after actor Larry Hagman -- best known for his roles as the conniving Texas oilman J.R. Ewing on the wildly popular, long-running CBS serial drama Dallas and the good-natured astronaut Maj. Tony Nelson on '60s hit I Dream of Jeannie -- passed away at the age of 81 yesterday. Hagman died at 4:20 p.m. at a hospital in Dallas, TX after grappling with complications that arose from a recent battle with cancer, according to his family.
While the actor's death is heartbreaking, it's reassuring to hear that Hagman passed away in the best possible way -- in his favorite city, surrounded by his most beloved friends and family, including Dallas co-stars Linda Gray and Patrick Duffy.
Hagman's family released the following statement:
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.
And while their wishes for privacy are sure to be respected, one of the things fans loved Hagman most for was how candid he was about his personal life. The actor publicly acknowledged that years of heavy drinking damaged his liver so much that at one point, he needed a transplant. He also smoked for many years, and although he quit, he eventually battled throat cancer.
In light of his passing, fans of the TNT Dallas reboot may also wonder how the network plans to handle Hagman's death on the second series. While TNT has yet to address that concern, Hagman had already filmed scenes for the second season of the series, which is expected to premiere on January 28, 2013 with a two-hour event.
In the meantime, Warner Bros., the studio that produces the show released a statement on behalf of the cast, crew, and executive producers Cynthia Cidre and Michael M. Robin:
Larry Hagman was a giant, a larger-than-life personality whose iconic performance as J.R. Ewing will endure as one of the most indelible in entertainment history. He truly loved portraying this globally recognized character, and he leaves a legacy of entertainment, generosity and grace. Everyone at Warner Bros. and in the Dallas family is deeply saddened by Larry's passing, and our thoughts are with his family and dear friends during this difficult time.
The studio's sentiment is one that is sure to be echoed by many of Hagman's peers, colleagues, and those of us who watched him on two of the most iconic shows of all time over the years. While his legend is sure to live on for years to come, Hagman surely will be missed.
In memory of the beloved actor, here's a clip from last month in which he discusses his cancer diagnosis and the new Dallas ...
Were you a fan of Hagman on Dallas and I Dream of Jeannie?
Image via TNT