Actor Larry Hagman played the ripely nefarious oil baron J.R. Ewing in the 1980s television show Dallas. It was Hagman's second iconic TV role: he also played Major Tony Nelson, the goofy astronaut hiding a beautiful genie in a bottle in the 1960s series I Dream of Jeannie. Larry Hagman came from a showbiz family: his mother, Mary Martin, starred on Broadway in Peter Pan and The Sound of Music. Hagman appeared with his mother in the road company of South Pacific early in his career, then moved on to other theater parts and a regular role on the TV soap opera The Edge of Night. His big break came with I Dream of Jeannie (1965-70), in which he cavorted comically with a voluptuous imp played by Barbara Eden. As popular as that show was, Hagman topped it with a 13-year run as the scheming Texas patriarch of the Ewing clan on Dallas (1978-1991). Dallas began a craze for prime-time soap operas; the final episode of its 1979-80 season ended with Hagman's character being shot by an unknown assailant, and the public uproar made "Who shot J.R.?" a byword for TV cliffhangers. He was filming the second season of a revived edition of Dallas when he died in 2012. His films included Fail-Safe (1964, with Walter Matthau), Superman (1978, with Christopher Reeve), S.O.B. (1981, with William Holden) and Primary Colors (1998, with John Travolta). He published a memoir, Hello Darlin', in 2001.
Larry Hagman appeared in every episode of Dallas… He received a liver transplant in 1995, after years of heavy drinking… The answer to “Who shot J.R.?” was eventually revealed to be J.R.’s sister-in-law Kristen. She was played by Mary Crosby, the daugher of crooner Bing Crosby… Larry Hagman spent a year at Bard College in New York, the alternative school that also educated comedian Chevy Chase and Donald Fagen of the band Steely Dan… Larry Hagman married the Swedish-born Maj Axelsson in 1954, and they remained married until his death. They had two children: Kristina (b. 1958) and Preston (b. 1962)… Some sources list Larry Hagman’s birth name as “Hageman,” but the biography on Hagman’s official site says “Larry was born in Fort Worth, Texas on September 21st, the son of actress Mary Martin and attorney Ben Hagman”… Mary Martin was 17 years old when Hagman was born, according to his obituary in the Dallas Morning News. After her marriage to Ben Hagman ended, Larry Hagman “was raised largely by his maternal grandmother while his mother became a famous stage actress.”
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