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Larry Hagman of 'Dallas' fame dies at 81

  • Actor best known as J.R. Ewing had battled cancer
Larry Hagman, who played J.R. Ewing in the primetime soap opera, "Dallas," has died.

Actor Larry Hagman -- best known to generations of television viewers as J.R. Ewing of "Dallas" -- died Friday at the age of 81, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Hagman succumbed to complications related to his battle with cancer, according to the paper, surrounded by family and friends -- including some of his TV castmates -- in a Dallas hospital room. 

READ MORE: Celebrities mourn loss of Larry Hagman

One of Hagman's early TV roles came in 1965, when he played astronaut Maj. Tony Nelson in the hit comedy, "I Dream of Jeannie." However, his role as the scheming Texas oil tycoon made him one of the world's most recognizable faces in TV history.

The "Who Shot J.R." cliffhanger riveted the nation for the summer, leaving many to guess who pulled the trigger. More than 350 million viewers tuned in to the November 21, 1980, episode entitled "Who Done It?" to learn it was J.R. sister-in-law, Kristen Shepherd. 

READ MORE: Where are they now? Stars of 'Dallas'

Hagman had recently reprised his role as J.R. in a reboot of "Dallas," on TNT. TNT released the following statement in the wake of the actor's passing:

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.

Tune in to Weekend Express starting at 7 a.m. ET Saturday for updates.

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