Friday, November 23, 2012

Larry Hagman Dies From Complications Of Throat Cancer.

When I was a little girl two shows featured beautiful women who married mere mortal men but that didn’t mean that there wasn’t magic going on.  I’m talking about Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie.  I was about six years old when these shows came out and I wondered if I too had magical powers that would show themselves when I grew up.

Astronauts were heroes and it was easy to imagine that he would fall for the beautiful Jeannie in the show I Dream of Jeannie.  In the show Larry Hagman played Air Force Captain (later Major) Anthony Nelson who finds Barbara Eden, a 2,000-year-old genie and becomes her “master”.    Eventually the two fall in love and get married.

After I Dream of Jeannie, Hagman starred in two short-lived series in the 1970s, Here We Go Again. The show was  a "divorce comedy", portraying the post-divorce life of two couples. Richard and Judy, who have a son, Jeff, divorce after 17 years of marriage due to incompatibility. Jerry and Susan, who have two children, Cindy and Jan, divorce after a ten year marriage due to adultery. Richard and Susan fall in love and marry. He moves into Susan's house, which is near the homes of their ex-spouses.

In the 1971-72 season Larry Hagman starred with Donna Mills in a show called The Good Life.  The Good Life is the story of a middle-class American couple, the Millers (Hagman and Mills), who had tired of their mundane existence. However, instead of following the time-honored premise of "hitting the road" to seek adventure or engaging in a stereotypical period activity such as joining a communal farm, they decided to seek new employment as the live-in butler and cook of millionaire industrialist, Charles Dutton. He noticed that they were not particularly talented at their jobs but found them to be agreeable enough. Their limited skills most definitely were not enough for his stuffy sister Grace, however, and she constantly worked to get them fired. Dutton's teenaged son Nick was aware of what the Millers were doing in their new roles but found great humor in helping them to get away with it.

The show was cancelled at midseason and was replaced by the action drama, Emergency!  My best friend from Junior High LOVED the show Emergency and had a major crush on Randy Mantooth so I’m certain that she was thrilled with the cancellation. 

In the late seventies it seemed as though EVERYONE was watching Dallas.  Everyone except me I guess.  At the time I was in my late teens and my life was spinning out of control.  I had not time or the desire to immerse myself in the family wrangling of the wealthy Ewing family.

 Even when the 1980 cliffhanger season finale in which J. R. is shot by an unknown assailant captured attention worldwide, I don’t think I was able to grasp the show’s appeal. 

At the beginning of the 1980–81 season, writers were told to keep the storylines away from the actors until they really found out who actually shot J. R., and it took three weeks until the culprit was revealed on November 21, 1980 in a ratings record-breaking episode.

Funny, it wasn’t until five years ago when I found the series on DVD did I decide on a lark to check it out.  That was when I finally understood why so many people loved the show.  It was difficult to see the easy going loveable Major Nelson become the evil, maniacal JR Ewing. 

When TNT decided to reprise Dallas earlier this year I was actually very excited especially since Hagman would still be JR.  Could there really have been anyone else who could have played that role? 

Still my husband and I wondered, would the new show have the same appeal as the old show?  Could the original characters breathe new life into their old characters?  Could the new characters appeal to the Dallas fans and also bring in a younger fan base?

We need not have worried.  The show was all that we hoped for, especially Larry.  I remember saying to my husband after one episode in particular; this show had to have Larry it wouldn’t have been the same without him.  At the end of the first season we both acknowledged that Larry was no longer a young man and wondered what the show would do without him.  We have no clue.

In 1993, Hagman starred in Staying Afloat as a down-on-his-luck former millionaire who agrees to work undercover with the FBI to maintain his playboy lifestyle. Originally ordered for two TV movies and a weekly series by NBC, the pilot movie aired in November 1993 to critical drubbing and low ratings, ending production.

In January 1997, Hagman starred in a short-lived television series titled Orleans as Judge Luther Charbonnet, which lasted only eight episodes. In 2002, he made an appearance in the fourth series of Vic Reeves ad Bob Mortimer's British comedy paenel game, Shooting Stars.  In January 2011, Hagman made a guest appearance in the seventh Season of Desperate Housewives as a new husband for Lynette Scavo's mother, Stella (played by Polly Bergen).
Hagman appeared in such feature films as The Group, Fail-Safe, Harry and Tonto, Mother, Jug & Speed, The Eagle Has Landed, Superman, Nixo andPrimary Colors.  His television work included Getting Away from It All,Sidekicks, The Return of the World's Greatest Detective, Intamate Strangers, and Checkered Flag orCrash. 
He directed episodes of I Dream of Jeannie and The Good Life as well as several episoes of Dallas and In the Heat of the Night, which was the only series he directed but did not act in. 
Hagman died on November 23, 2012, at Medical City Dallas Hospital in Dallas following complications fromm throat cancer.  In a statement to the Dallas Morning News, Hagman's family said: "Lary's family and close friends had joined him i 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." 

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