Many fans’ love-hate relationship with J.R. Ewing turned to sadness with the news that “Dallas” actor Larry Hagman had died on Thursday night due to complications from cancer.
Hagman’s run on the original “Dallas,” and then on the recent reboot of the show, catapulted J.R. Ewing into the pantheon of despicable television character villains, placing him alongside such TV bad guys as Simon Cowell from "American Idol" and Montgomery Burns from “The Simpsons.”
Hagman was 81 when he died, according to the Dallas Morning News, and while his age and illness didn’t allow his death to come as a shock, many fans took the news hard. “Dallas” ran from 1978 through 1991 on CBS, and it was watched all over the world by hundreds of millions of viewers. The bile -- and affection -- that fans had for Hagman’s character was strong enough for producers to bring the show back to cable.
The grief only multiplied, though, when fans wondered what would come of J.R. Ewing on the current incarnation of “Dallas,” set to premiere its second season on TNT on Jan. 28. The Hollywood Reporter noted that Hagman had filmed six of the season’s 15 episodes and that J.R. will be quietly eliminated from the show. In the rebooted "Dallas," which is currently on cable, Ewing appeared in 10 of the first season’s episodes, which were all filmed while Hagman was undergoing cancer treatment.
At the time, Hagman told the Hollywood Reporter how excited he was to still be part of the show.
“As J.R., I could get away with anything -- bribery, blackmail and adultery. But I got caught by cancer,” he said in 2011. “I do want everyone to know that it is a very common and treatable form of cancer. I will be receiving treatment while working on the new ‘Dallas’ series. I could not think of a better place to be than working on a show I love, with people I love. Besides, as we all know, you can't keep J.R. down!”
His death is not expected to impact the show’s return date, and cameos are scheduled from Ted Shackelford and Joan Van Ark. Judith Light and Emma Bell will also appear on the second season.
Hagman’s family told the Dallas Morning News that he treasured the iconic role until the very end of his life.
“Larry was back in his beloved Dallas, re-enacting the iconic role he loved most,” his family said in a written statement. “Larry’s family and close friends had joined him in Dallas for the Thanksgiving holiday. When he passed, he was surrounded by loved ones. It was a peaceful passing, just as he had wished for. The family requests privacy at this time.”