Actor Larry Hagman who played in the 1960’s sitcom I DREAM OF JEANNIE and also was the popular bad guy, J.R. Ewing in DALLAS has died at the age of 81. But, Larry Hagman was absolutely nothing like his villainous J.R. Ewing character. His own website touted his Larry Hagman Foundation charity which offered educational and arts learning to economically disadvantaged children. His Website claims that the actor was back in Dallas reprising his role as J.R. Ewing for the rebooted version of the series seen on TNT cable TV when his death occurred.
The actor was unfortunately known as a long time drinker, and had underwent a life-saving liver transplant operation in 1995, when his liver failed due to his alcohol abuse. Hagman later advocated the use of marijuana instead of alcohol, as an alternative. But, his ultimate death was from the complications of throat cancer, only proving that no smoking is good.
In the 1960’s, Larry Hagman was best known for his comedy role in I DREAM OF JEANNIE, where he was a young astronaut who found a bottle with a 2,000 year old beautiful female genie who had wild powers to grant him wishes and deeply wanted to be his wife as well. She was both sexy as well as naive, and would pull wild stunts with her magic that would often land her master into problems with his commanding officer who questioned his mental health and fitness to be an astronaut. The show was NBC’s answer to ABC’s BEWITCHED. I DREAM OF JEANNIE was the second most popular show on TV at one time, running for five seasons, where the chemistry on the show of the actors seemed perfect and the comical stories were endearing.
Strangely, the NBC censors had to respond to some complaints about the skimpy and sexy genie costume that actress Barbara Eden wore, and had to redesign it to cover her belly button exposure, which by 1960’s standards was thought to be indecent by some.
But, as popular as I DREAM OF JEANNIE was, Hagman was able to reclaim a great comeback career as the evil oil tycoon, J.R. Ewing in DALLAS. Hagman loved this dramatic role, which became his favorite role he ever played.
As an early actor, Larry Hagman proved great potential in the Sidney Lumet classic film, FAILSAFE, with Henry Fonda. Hagman played a young interpreter, trying to prevent a nuclear war with the old Soviet Union. It was the first glimpse of a great actor who didn’t always find major work, despite his two best gigs on the TV screen in the 1960’s and in the 1980’s.