Obit Hagman
Obit Hagman

Larry Hagman, the actor who won international fame with his portrayal of the amoral oilman J.R. Ewing in the television series Dallas has died at the age of 81.

Hagman died Friday in a Dallas, Texas hospital from complications of cancer.

The Dallas series hit television screens in 1978.  It was seen in 57 countries. Hagman's J.R. character quickly became the conniving villain TV viewers loved to despise during the show's 14-year run.  

Actors Patrick Duffy (L), Linda Gray and Larry Hagman from the TV series "Dallas" pose backstage at the 18th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards in Los Angeles, California, January 29, 2012.

The top-rated show inspired a spin-off, imitators and a revival this year on the TNT cable network with Hagman reprising his J.R. role.

Dallas was not Hagman's first television starring role. He became a star in 1965 when television audiences came to know him as astronaut Major Anthony Nelson, who discovered a beautiful genie in a bottle in the comedy I Dream of Jeannie.

Hagman also worked as a stage actor before appearing in films that included Fail-Safe, In Harm's Way, and Ensign Pulver.

In 1995, Hagman was diagnosed with liver cancer after years of heavy drinking. He underwent a liver transplant and in his later years became an advocate for organ transplants.

Hagman was born into an entertainment family.  His mother was legendary Broadway actress Mary Martin.

Larry Hagman is survived by his wife of nearly 60 years and two children.