Larry Hagman, whose portrayal of one of television’s most beloved villains, J. R. Ewing, led the CBS series “Dallas” to enormous worldwide popularity, died on Friday in Dallas. He was 81. The cause was complications of cancer, his family said in a statement. Mr. Hagman had been in Dallas filming an episode of the TNT cable channel’s reboot of that series, which had made him the man audiences loved to hate from 1978 to 1991.
In October 2011, shortly before filming began on the new “Dallas,” Mr. Hagman announced that he had a “treatable” form of cancer. It was the latest of several health problems he had experienced since learning that he had cirrhosis in 1992. (Mr. Hagman acknowledged at the time that he had been a heavy drinker.) In 1995, he received a liver transplant after doctors discovered a tumor on his liver.
“As J. R., I could get away with anything — bribery, blackmail and adultery,” Mr. Hagman said after receiving his diagnosis last year. “But I got caught by cancer.” Nonetheless, he said, he relished the opportunity to reprise his best-known role.
I met Larry Hagman around 1997 and we developed a great friendship very quickly. Soon after, we met for dinner on many Monday nights with a few other friends. I'll always cherish one Christmas in 2000 when my parents came out to visit me for the holidays and my father met Larry at a Christmas party I had to stop in. Larry was so gracious to my dad and you can imagine, my father was practically speechless.
But what made that Christmas really special for my parents was on the following day I dropped them off to walk around at the 3rd Street Promenade (a shopping/tourist spot in Santa Monica) to walk around and Larry saw my father with my mom as they passed the Broadway Deli. He ran out and invited them in to join him for lunch. They never forgot that afternoon and it showed what a truly decent man he was.
He not only enriched millions of peoples lives through his acting, but touched my own family's hearts through a small act of kindness.
R.I.P. dear Larry. You will be missed.