I just typed “Who shot” into Google and the first thing to come up was “Who Shot J.R.?” After 32 years, that is pretty amazing. What followed were 217,000,000 results in three seconds, and it is hard to believe that too. Hagman’s villain did leave his mark on TV because it changed the way many shows operated. It became clear that an ostensibly bad guy could actually be the lead character of a successful TV show. Over the years that tactic was used again – just think of James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano in The Sopranos and Michael Chiklis as Vic Mackey in The Shield as examples.
While I always found Hagman’s portrayal of the evil J.R. quite enjoyable, my favorite memory of him was on a very different show. He played astronaut Tony Nelson in the 1960s comedy I Dream of Jeannie. Tony finds an old bottle when he is stranded on an island and releases a beautiful genie (Barbara Eden), whom he takes home with him when rescued. Hagman made quite an impression in this series as an entirely likeable and funny character, and I think that many people will remember him fondly for this role.
Hagman had been starring in a new version of Dallas that started earlier this year on TNT. Though some of the old characters did return, I must honestly say I never saw an episode, so I cannot comment on it. I know it was renewed for a second season, but I am sure that Hagman’s death will greatly affect the future of that series.
At this point Larry Hagman has a secure place in TV history as one of the best bad guys ever. Rest in peace, Larry Hagman and J.R. Ewing!
Photo credits: extratv.com; nypost.com