Hollywood is reacting with sadness and fond memories in the wake of the news that Larry Hagman has died. Hagman, 81, died in a Dallas hospital Friday afternoon stemming from a long battle with cancer, according to numerous stories that broke on Saturday morning.
Hagman was best known for playing one of the most memorable characters in the history of television — the villainous, scheming J.R. Ewing in the original “Dallas.”
Before that, he starred with Barbara Eden in “I Dream of Jeannie,” one of the best-remembered sitcoms of the 1960s. He was seen in memorable movies too, including “Fail Safe” with Henry Fonda (1964), and “Harry and Tonto” with Oscar-winner Art Carney (1974).
As the son of Broadway great Mary Martin, Hagman grew up in show business, and he was part of the Hollywood community for all of his life. Barbara Eden was among those reacting to his death on Saturday.
“I still cannot completely express the shock and impact from the news that Larry Hagman has passed,” Eden wrote in a statement posted on her Facebook page and reported here on the “Access Hollywood” Web site. “I can still remember, that first day on Zuma Beach with him, in the frigid cold,” she wrote, remembering the California beach location where they filmed the first scenes of “I Dream of Jeannie.” “From that day for five more years, Larry was the center of so many fun, wild, shocking … and in retrospect, memorable moments that will remain in my heart forever.”
Hagman was still working at the time of his death, in the role of J.R. in the updated version of “Dallas” on TNT. In fact, Patrick Duffy and Linda Gray — long-time friends and co-stars on both versions of “Dallas” — were reportedly at his bedside when he passed away in a Dallas hospital.
TNT, which premiered the first season of the new “Dallas” last summer, issued a statement. “All of us at TNT are deeply saddened at the news of Larry Hagman’s passing,” the statement said, according to this story. He was a wonderful human being and an extremely gifted actor. We will be forever thankful that a whole new generation of people got to know and appreciate Larry through his performance as J.R. Ewing. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this very difficult time.”
That same story had reactions from a diverse group of celebrities who apparently were long-time friends — including Peter Fonda and William Shatner.
“RIP my dear, longtime friend and brother,” Fonda wrote. “You brought so much fun to everyone’s life & so much family to me & my family. always in my heart.”