Dallas actor Larry Hagman dies at 81

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By SAPA

US actor Larry Hagman, who became famous for his role of J.R. Ewing in the US television show “Dallas,” has died at the age of 81 after losing a battle with cancer, his family said.

“When he passed, he was surrounded by loved ones,” the family said in a statement. “It was a peaceful passing, just as he had wished for.”

According to the statement, Hagman died late Friday afternoon at Medical City Dallas Hospital from complications from throat cancer.

No other details were given. The family has asked for privacy.

Hagman became a TV star in 1965 in the comedy series “I Dream of Jeannie,” in which he played an amiable astronaut whose life is plagued by a beautiful blonde portrayed by Barbara Eden.

But it was not until 1977, when the soap opera “Dallas” came along, that his Hollywood career really took off.

“Dallas” told the story of a mega-rich Texas family, in which Hagman played the role of corrupt and unscrupulous millionaire J.R. Ewing, the man everyone loved to hate.

Made popular by Hagman's trademark charisma, and JR's menace and constant scheming, the series ran for an unprecedented 13 seasons - from 1978 to 1991 - becoming one of the highest rated TV shows in the history of the medium.

He lived and worked in Southern California. But since the series were set in Dallas, Hagman's name become synonymous with Texas.

He hosted “Lone Star,” an eight-part documentary series on the history of the state, for PBS television, which aired in 1985 and was timed to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Texas declaring itself an independent republic, a short-lived status prior to joining the United States.

In 1992, Hagman was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver, which later developed into a cancerous tumor.

Three years later, he underwent a liver transplant that saved his life.

In November 1996, the actor starred in “Dallas: JR Returns”, a two-hour television movie for CBS television, as well as in the network's one-hour drama series “Orleans”.

His big screen roles included his portrayal of corrupt southern Governor Picker in Mike Nichols' political film “Primary Colors,” the cast of which included such fellow stars as John Travolta, Emma Thompson, Billy Bob Thornton, Kathy Bates and Adrian Lester. -Sapa-AFP

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