Larry Hagman, who played for more than a decade TV villain JR Ewing, has died at the age of 81, his family says.
Larry Hagman, who had suffered from cancer and cirrhosis of the liver, died in hospital on Friday afternoon, according to a family statement.
“Larry was back in his beloved Dallas, re-enacting the iconic role he loved most,” said the family.
“He was surrounded by loved ones.”
Long-time friend Linda Gray, who played Sue Ellen, was by his bedside.
“Larry Hagman was my best friend for 35 years,” said Linda Gray in a statement released by her agent Jeffrey Lane.
“He was the Pied Piper of life and brought joy to everyone he knew. He was creative, generous, funny, loving and talented and I will miss him enormously.
“He was an original and lived life to the full.”
Jeffrey Lane added that Patrick Duffy, who played his brother Bobby in Dallas, was also at Larry Hagman’s bedside at Medical City Dallas Hospital.
“They had been friends for 35 years and they had worked together for many years, so obviously it is devastating,” Jeffrey Lane told The Sun.
During 13 years as the most scheming oil tycoon in Dallas, JR in his Stetson became one of the most distinctive faces on television screens across the world.
It quickly became one of the network’s top-rated programmes – with its 356 episodes being seen by an estimated 300 million people in 57 countries – and was revived this year.
Born in Texas, Larry Hagman later moved to Los Angeles where he was cared for mainly by his grandmother.
After a brief period spent working in the fields, Larry Hagman followed his mother into showbusiness and even toured and played in musicals with her.
Moving into television, he played astronaut Tony Nelson in the 1960s television comedy I Dream of Jeannie.
He first performed as JR Ewing in 1978 and became its highest-paid star, as the programme came to define 1980s excess.
The actor himself owned more than 2,000 cowboy hats.
When Dallas finally finished in 1991, Larry Hagman went on to appear in hit films Nixon and Primary Colors.
His forthright biography, Hello Darlin’, detailed his youthful drug-taking exploits and revealed the extent of his 50-year battle with alcoholism.
Even on the hardworking set of Dallas, he consumed five bottles of champagne a day for years and was finally diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver in 1992.
Three years later he had a liver transplant and kept a photo of the organ donor above his mirror.
“I say a prayer for him every morning,” he said.
Despite this, Larry Hagman continued to drink secretly until a further life-saving operation in 2003 forced him to stop.
Larry Hagman announced in October 2011 that he had a “treatable” form of throat cancer and would receive treatment while filming the Dallas reboot.
At the time the star said: “As J.R. I could get away with anything – bribery, blackmail and adultery. But I got caught by cancer. I do want everyone to know that it is a very common and treatable form of cancer.
“I will be receiving treatment while working on the new Dallas series. I could not think of a better place to be than working on a show I love, with people I love.”
The late actor added: “Besides, as we all know, you can’t keep J.R. down!”
Larry Hagman is survived by wife Maj, who he married in 1952. In 2008, Maj was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease.
The actor was last seen in public on November 15, when he attended the White Bridle Society’s Da Vinci, Wine and Roses benefit at held at the Lisa Blue Baron Mansion in Dallas.
He always refused to let his wife’s illness get him down and said: “She’s not very well. But those were the cards we were dealt, so we’ll play with them. More than half a century of happy years is a lot to draw on.”
The couple have two children: Heidi Kristina, born in 1958, and Preston, born in 1962.