As the son of Broadway legend Mary Martin, he was used to the glow of show business, but Larry Hagman carved his own niche in Hollywoodland on more than one occasion. Of course, he will be forever famous as one of the most dastardly – and beloved – villains in prime-time soap history, JR Ewing of DALLAS. That role jettisoned from the dustbin’s of 60s television nostalgia to arguably the most popular actor in the world at that time. So popular was the show – and Hagman’s portrayal of Ewing (and of course, the “Who Shot J.R.?” episode, which stands behind the final episode of M*A*S*H as the most watched episode in the history of TV) – that decades later, DALLAS was reborn in 2011, not so much a reboot as a continuation of the original series, with Hagman reprising his role.
But years before DALLAS, Hagman became famous for his role of Major Tony Nelson in the camp classic, I DREAM OF JEANNIE which ran from 1965-1970. It was a reviled show at the time, but nostalgia – and the unheard of ratings it received when it went into syndication – has kept it alive and beloved all these years later. It’s a series I grew up on, and as I child, I loved its absurdist humor. (And still do as an adult.)
Here’s an interview that Hagman did on Australian TV last year with Barbara Eden and Bill Daily (who portrayed Nelson’s best friend and fellow astronaut Roger Healy).