Remembering Larry Hagman

“J.R. died”. Those were my sister’s words when she told me about the passing of Larry Hagman. This was someone we, along with many others, watched on television every week without fail. Friday nights and “Dallas” went hand in hand. During the week, we got to see Major Anthony Nelson on “I Dream of Jeannie”. I’ve always liked both shows and characters immensely. As a result, we felt like we knew Larry Hagman, as if he was a part of the family. Maybe in a way he was.

When TNT’s reboot of “Dallas” began earlier this year, J.R. Ewing was THE one everyone was looking for. Twitter exploded with J.R. tweets. The second season gets under way in January, and everyone is already wondering how will the show be without him. Mr. Hagman taped six episodes prior to his passing. The producers plan to give J.R. a fitting and proper sendoff, although it is unsure how it will be done. This will be an emotional experience for we viewers, to say the least. The original show did a similar thing when Jim Davis (Jock Ewing) passed away in 1981.

In addition to his iconic roles in both “Jeannie” and “Dallas”, he was on “The Edge of Night” in the ’60s, “Here We Go Again” and “The Good Life” in the ’70s, “Orleans” in the ’90s, and “Nip / Tuck” in more recent years. He had parts in the films “Fail-Safe”, “In Harm’s Way”, “Harry and Tonto”, and “Mother, Jugs, and Speed”. He guest starred on “Ellery Queen” and “Harry-O”. He was brilliant in each.

In “I Dream of Jeannie”, his chemistry with Barbara Eden flowed naturally. He was not always a happy camper on the set, but you can’t tell when watching the show. He also possessed an ease with fellow co-stars Bill Daily, Emmaline Henry, and Hayden Roarke. For a time, he seemed to avoid his Jeannie connection. He did not appear in either of the reunion movies. Incidentally, his “Dallas” co-star Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes) was in the second one. Over time, his attitude tremendously mellowed. He participated in several on and off screen reunions with Barbara Eden and Bill Daily. One was on CNN’s Larry King Live, another on Donny and Marie’s talk show.  In the early ’90s, he and Barbara reunited for the first time on TV when she briefly joined “Dallas”. Her character’s name? Lee Ann Nelson. Airing on NBC for five seasons, the series remains a much beloved classic.

Initially, J.R. was not to be the primary focus on “Dallas”. He was to be a supporting character. However, his wicked shenanigans were too hard for viewers to resist. The way he would deliver his nasty dialogue was superb. He could insult someone, and make it hilarious at the same time. As a result, he became an international star. The “Who Shot J.R.?” craze was just that- a craze. We as a nation were captivated by it. The episode when the shooter was finally revealed in November of 1980 remains the second highest rated show in TV history.

Growing up with Larry Hagman was a pleasure. His talent will continue to entertain us for years to come.

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~ by kmnnz on November 28, 2012.

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