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Larry Hagman -- J.R. Ewing on 'Dallas' -- Dies at 81 USA Today, NY Times

"Actor Larry Hagman, 81, whom fans for decades confused with J.R. Ewing, the conniving character he so convincingly played on TV's 'Dallas,' died Friday in the Texas city that made him a household name," USA Today reports. "Hagman had been battling cancer for the past year, having announced his diagnosis just as he began work on the soap-opera reboot for TNT."

Wrote Bill Carter in his New York Times obituary of Hagman, "When Mr. Hagman died, he was surrounded by friends and family, including his longtime co-star and confidante Linda Gray. 'He was the pied piper of life and brought joy to everyone he knew,' Ms. Gray said in a statement. 'I will miss him enormously. He was an original and lived life to the fullest.'"

Carter added, "'Larry was back in his beloved hometown of Dallas, re-enacting the iconic role he loved most,' the family said. While Mr. Hagman had been living in California, he had returned to Dallas to film a reboot of the wildly popular 'Dallas' series for the cable channel TNT."

The USA Today story said, "The second season of TNT's 'Dallas' is scheduled to premiere Jan. 28; six of the 15 episodes had been filmed at the time of his death."

Carter wrote in his Times story, "Mr. Hagman was also widely known for his role as Major Anthony Nelson -- an astronaut who is the master of a 2,000-year-old genie, played by Barbara Eden -- on another popular series, 'I Dream of Jeannie.'

"From its start in 1978, however, 'Dallas,' a multigenerational saga of a wealthy, scandal-prone oil family, dominated television audiences around the world as few series ever have. For more than 13 years, nobody was hated with more pleasure than Mr. Hagman’s unprincipled John Ross Ewing. Mr. Hagman, flashing a reptilian smile, portrayed his oilman-robber baron as, in one critic’s words, 'an overstuffed Iago in a Stetson hat.' It is estimated that at the height of its popularity, the show was seen by more than 300 million people in 57 countries."

Hagman's mother was Mary Martin, who will forever be remembered by Baby Boomers in her signature TV role as Peter Pan, which was first broadcast in 1955 on NBC to, at the time, the largest audience in the history of TV, 65 million homes.

The Times story added, "Mr. Hagman is survived by his wife of 59 years, Maj Axelsson; a son, a daughter and five granddaughters."

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