The star, best known for playing scheming oil baron J.R. Ewing on hit TV drama Dallas, passed away at a hospital in Texas last week (23Nov12), aged 81.
It was widely reported the veteran died from complications with stage two throat cancer, but now his pal, award-winning writer Harry Hurt III, reveals Hagman actually succumbed to the blood cell disease. He was reportedly diagnosed in July (12).
He tells the National Enquirer, "I had no idea Larry was so seriously ill until his son Preston called me and said, 'Harry, I just wanted to let you know that Dad died, and I didn't want you to read it in the papers.' Preston said, 'Dad had tongue cancer, but in the end he died from leukaemia.' I was just blown away."
The actor was surrounded by his family and friends when he took his last breath, but Hurt reveals Hagman never got the chance to say goodbye to his wife of 58 years, Maj - because she has Alzheimer's disease and lives in a California assisted living facility.
He continues, "In one of our final conversations, I asked Larry about Maj. Larry believed Maj was his soulmate, and watching her decline broke his heart. Because of the disease, he never got the chance to say goodbye to her."
The 81-year-old actor, who passed away on Friday (23Nov12) due to complications from cancer, will be celebrated at two invitation-only Celebration For Larry services, held in Dallas, Texas and in Los Angeles.
Hagman's son Preston insists reports that the star's ashes will be scattered around the world are "premature".
He tells People.com, "Right now we are going to be keeping his ashes within the family and we (are) going to wait for my mother to pass on so they can be together."
Preston explains that Maj Hagman, Larry's wife of 58 years, is "in the later stages of Alzheimer's," and is "not the person that she was, but she's very well taken care of."
He adds, "My father spoke to her and saw her every day. He was the most kind and caring man to my mother right up until the end."
The actor, who played ruthless oil tycoon J.R. Ewing in the hit TV soap and its 2012 revamp, passed away in a Texas hospital on Friday afternoon (23Nov12).
Reports suggest he suffered complications related to his recent cancer battle.
He had spent America's Thanksgiving Day (22Nov12) with family and friends before suddenly falling ill.
A statement from his family reads, "Larry was back in his beloved Dallas, re-enacting the iconic role he loved most... When he passed, he was surrounded by loved ones. It was a peaceful passing, just as he had wished for."
The son of actress Mary Martin, Hagman was born in Fort Worth, Texas. He attended New York's Bard College and then followed his mother into acting, as a castmember of Martin's hit stage musical South Pacific in England.
After a tour of duty with the U.S. Air Force, he returned to the States and became a regular on Broadway.
His break-out TV role came in 1965 when he was cast as astronaut Major Anthony Nelson in hit sitcom I Dream of Jeannie. He played the role for five years and followed that with U.S. show The Good Life. There was another iconic TV role to come after Hagman signed on to play Dallas villain Ewing from 1978 to 1991.
Away from the cameras, the actor battled alcohol abuse for years - his heavy drinking left Hagman in need of a liver transplant in the mid 1990s, after which he took a step back from Hollywood, appearing occasionally in shows such as Nip/Tuck and Desperate Housewives and in the films Nixon and Primary Colors.
But when TV bosses opted to bring Dallas back to the small screen last year (11), Hagman was invited to reprise his role as the scheming J.R. No sooner had filming begun than Hagman was diagnosed with throat cancer. He battled the disease as he filmed the drama and was declared cancer free this summer (12).
He recently laughed off the idea of retirement, stating, "I'd like to die onstage, so to speak. I love acting and I've had a wonderful career."
As well as his TV career, Hagman has also enjoyed big screen success - among his many hits were roles in cult films The Eagle Has Landed and Mother, Jugs & Speed.
His renewed success on Dallas was tinged with sadness for Hagman, who was forced to accept he could no longer care for his wife of almost 60 years, Maj, after she developed advanced Alzheimer's disease. He moved her into a rented home, where she is attended to by live-in nurses.
TV bosses at TNT, the network which airs the new hit Dallas TV show, also released a statement upon hearing of Hagman's death.
It reads, "All of us at TNT are deeply saddened at the news of Larry Hagman's passing. He was a wonderful human being and an extremely gifted actor. We will be forever thankful that a whole new generation of people got to know and appreciate Larry through his performance as J.R. Ewing. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this very difficult time."
Dallas executive producers Cynthia Cidre and Michael M. Robin added, "Larry Hagman was a giant, a larger-than-life personality whose iconic performance as J.R. Ewing will endure as one of the most indelible in entertainment history."
Following the news of Larry Hagman's passing — the actor died Friday at 81 years old from complications of cancer — one of Hagman's earliest co-stars, Barbara Eden, has taken to the Web to share memories of her time working with Hagman on the 1960s series I Dream of Jeannie.
"I still cannot completely express the shock and impact from the news that Larry Hagman has passed," Eden wrote on her Facebook page. "I can still remember, that first day on Zuma Beach with him, in the frigid cold. From that day for five more years, Larry was the center of so many fun, wild, shocking… and in retrospect, memorable moments that will remain in my heart forever."
For five seasons, Eden played the mystical servant — and eventual wife — of Hagman's Major Tony Nelson. With chemistry as good as it was hilarious, the duo became one of sitcom's most beloved couples. Though Hagman had not appeared in I Dream of Jeannie's 1985 and 1991 reunion specials, the two reteamed to promote the series' TV Land debut and the release of Jeannie's Season 1 DVD. Eden also appeared alongside Hagman during a 1990 episode of Dallas, playing an heiress attempting to get revenge against Hagman's J.R. Ewing. "He was such a key element in my life for so long and even, years after I Dream of Jeannie; our paths crossed many times," Eden wrote. "Throughout various productions I had the pleasure of watching the Texas Tornado that was Larry Hagman. Amidst a whirlwind of big laughs, big smiles and unrestrained personality Larry was always, simply Larry. You couldn't fault him for it, it was just who he was. I am so thankful that this past year I was able to spend time with him and experience yet again ‘Larry’ in all his Big Texas bravado." The actress continues, "I, like many others believed he had beat Cancer and yet we are reminded that life is never guaranteed. My deepest condolences go out to his wife Maj, his son and daughter and his grandchildren, as well as his friends in this time of his passing. I can honestly say that we've lost not just a great actor, not just a television icon, but an element of pure Americana. Goodbye Larry, there was no one like you before and there will never be anyone like you again." [Image Credit: WENN] More: Larry Hagman, 'Dallas' Star, Dies at 81
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The pair became firm friends on the set of the hit U.S. drama, which debuted in 1978, and stayed close after the series ended in 1991.
Gray credits Hagman with helping her get through her 1983 marriage breakdown - and now she's comforting the 80 year old as his wife Maj battles Alzheimer's in an assisted care facility.
Gray, who played Hagman's onscreen wife Sue Ellen Ewing in the drama, tells Britain's Daily Mirror, "It is like a brother and sister relationship. That is how I feel because we have a very child-like manner with each other. But we love each other and we can be very serious about each other's lives.
"We have grown up with each other. We all have children, now we have grandchildren and we have seen everything. There have been deaths, marriages, divorces and funerals, like you would have in a normal family. We have known each other for 33 years.
"He helped me when I separated from my husband, and now his wife has Alzheimer's so I am helping him with that. It is very sad."
Hagman, a native of Fort Worth, Texas, was an established TV and movie actor in the U.S. when he was catapulted to worldwide fame after landing the role of the treacherous businessman in 1978.
And as he prepares to re-visit his most famous character when Dallas re-launches next year (12), WENN has put together 10 fascinating facts about the star to say - Happy Birthday, Larry!
- Hagman's mother was the late, legendary actress Mary Martin. She bestowed upon him the childhood nickname Lukey.
- Before finding fame, he served in the U.S. Air Force, where he honed his stagecraft by spending hours entertaining his fellow troops.
- Hagman broke his collar bone in a childhood accident.
- During his time on Dallas, Hagman's portrayal of J.R. Ewing was so central to the show's popularity, he re-negotiated his contract to earn $100,000 (£62,500) per episode - making him one of the highest-paid actors on U.S. TV.
- A committed anti-smoker, Hagman served as chairman of the American Cancer Society's Great American Smokeout.
- He underwent a liver transplant in 1995 after years of heavy boozing left it ravaged. He has since become an outspoken campaigner for liver donation, and wears a ring made from gallstones removed from the organ during the transplant.
- He was the only actor to star in all 357 episodes of Dallas – although for several episodes during the infamous 'Who Shot J.R.' saga, Hagman's face was not shown as the character recovered in a hospital bed. He still holds the record for the greatest number of consecutive appearances by a lead actor in a 60-minute primetime drama.
- Hagman became close friends with The Who wildman Keith Moon when the drummer lived in Los Angeles in the 1970s, and the hard-drinking pair would frequently party together.
- He owns a ranch in Ojai, California, and a home in Sundsvall, Sweden – the hometown of his Swedish wife, Maj.
- He has a vast collection of hats and canes.
The star of the iconic '80s show was devastated after putting his wife of 57 years, Maj, into an assisted care facility after struggling to look after her himself.
Hagman still sees her everyday, and believes reprising his role as notorious oil baron J.R. Ewing in the rebooted cult show will "save" him.
He tells Britain's The Mail on Sunday, "Her Alzheimer's hasn't yet robbed her of the knowledge of who I am. But I dread that day... It's a cruel disease.
"That's why Dallas is good for me. It made my name the first time around. Now I believe it will save me by keeping me busy and working."
"It won't be easy being apart if I'm filming Dallas in Texas but I'll be able to fly back every week to see her." LARRY HAGMAN is dreading being apart from his wife Maj, who is in a care home receiving treatment for Alzheimer's, while he films the upcoming DALLAS remake.
The actor, most famous for his role as greedy oil baron J.R. Ewing in the soap opera, was devastated when his wife of 55 years Maj Axelsson developed the degenerative brain disease, which robs patients of their memory.
Hagman has since moved Axelsson into a care home to receive professional treatment, but insists his wife has retained her "vivacious" spirit and still recognises him.
He tells Britain's Hello! magazine, "She has had it for six years but we didn't know that until we looked back on her personality changes and traits.
"She still knows who I am. She's always saying, 'Get me out of here!' I say, 'Well, I can't do it myself any longer.' I can't. I just couldn't. I see her every day when I'm here and when I'm gone she knows, but she forgets... It's an awful disease. There's no rhyme or reason. It's devastating. B***dy awful... She was very vivacious and still is."