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‘Dallas’ Star Larry Hagman Dead at 81

larry hagman
Pascal Le Segretain, Getty Images

Larry Hagman, who embodied one of television’s most iconic villains — J.R. Ewing on ‘Dallas’ — passed away Friday afternoon at the age of 81.

According to the Dallas Morning News, Hagman, the son of legendary actress Mary Martin, died from complications related to a recent battle with cancer.

He got his first big break in 1965, when he landed the role of astronaut Tony Nelson opposite Barbara Eden on ‘I Dream of Jeannie.’ But it was in 1978 that he first put on that oversized Stetson to play the conniving head of the Ewing clan on ‘Dallas’ — and changed the TV landscape forever.

After one of J.R.’s many enemies tried to kill him in 1980′s third season finale, it sparked a “who shot J.R.?” pop culture phenomenon so intense that by the time the shooter was finally revealed that November, three-quarters of all television viewers in the United States tuned in see who it was.

Two of Hagman’s ‘Dallas’ co-stars and longtime friends, Linda Gray and Patrick Duffy, were with his family at his bedside when he died. He is survived by his wife of nearly 60 years and their two children, who issued a statement that said in part, “When he passed, he was surrounded by loved ones. It was a peaceful passing, just as he had wished for.”

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