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Larry Hagman: A video retrospective of 'Jeannie,' 'Dallas,' BVDs

November 25, 2012|By Scott Sandell
  • Larry Hagman poses in front of the Southfork Ranch mansion in Parker, Texas, made famous in the television show "Dallas."
Larry Hagman poses in front of the Southfork Ranch mansion in Parker, Texas,… (Tony Gutierrez / Associated…)

Larry Hagman may have been best known for his role as the delightfully despicable oil man J.R. Ewing on "Dallas," but his six-decade career contained many other memorable moments on screen. After all, the actor -- who died Friday at a Dallas hospital -- appeared in more than 80 TV productions and about 20 films.

Although his first TV credits came in 1957 on such now largely forgotten series as "Decoy," "Goodyear Playhouse" and "Studio One in Hollywood," Hagman appeared in the daytime soap opera "The Edge of Night" from 1961 to 1963.

Then came a bit of magic, courtesy of a genie.

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Starting in 1965 and running for five seasons, "I Dream of Jeannie" starred Hagman as the beleaguered astronaut Tony Nelson, whose space capsule lands on an island in the South Pacific. (An appropriate location, given that Hagman's mother Mary Martin starred in the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical of the same name.) While waiting to be rescued on the island, Nelson finds a mysterious bottle containing the 2,000-year-old Jeannie. 

“I liked the premise of ‘Jeannie,’ “ Hagman wrote in his 2001 autobiography, “Hello Darlin’.” “It was good, wholesome, escapist fun, with a healthy dose of sexual tension.”

Jeannie's often-misguided desire to please her master causes all kinds of consternation for the straitlaced Nelson, as seen in the clip below.

Though best known for his TV work, he had some memorable film moments as well, often as a military man. (Hagman spent four years in the Air Force in the 1950s.)

In the 1978 film "Superman" starring Christopher Reeve, Hagman had a small part as a major who displays great "chivalry" in trying to revive Eve Teschmacher (Valerie Perrine), moll of all-around bad guy Lex Luthor. 

But 1978 would also be the year "Dallas" -- and Hagman's signature role -- began. Playing a character that everyone loved to hate propelled the actor to international stardom and two Emmy Awards.

It also brought in endorsement deals, such as for BVD underwear. In the memorable commercial below, Hagman plays a Ewing-esque character who asks with an evil laugh: "Now where else would I put my personal assets?"

After "Dallas" ended in 1991, Hagman battled health problems, but he continued to stay active in such series as "Orleans" in 1997 and "Nip/Tuck" in 2006. In 2011, he had guest appearances on "Desperate Housewives" as a grumpy racist with plans to marry Polly Bergen's character Stella.

Earlier this year, he returned to the role of J.R. Ewing in a new version of “Dallas” for TNT.  In the clip below, he appears with real-life Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

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