“I was born with success. Lucky for me I am able to handle it. Also, I damn well deserve it!” Larry Hagman
American actor, producer and director Larry Hagman is best known for playing astronaut Anthony Nelson in the NBC sitcom “I Dream of Jeannie” (1965-1970) and merciless J.R. Ewing on the long-running CBS soap opera “Dallas” (1978-1991), a role which he reprised for two TV movie reunions, “Dallas: J.R. Returns” (1996, earned a Lone Star Film & Television award) and “Dallas: War of the Ewings” (1998). The latter role brought the Texas native huge prominence and a number of honors, such as six Soap Opera Digest Awards as well as Emmy and Golden Globe nominations. Other series’ credits include “The Good Life” (1971), “Here We Go Again” (1973) and “Orleans” (1997). The leading man has also acted in several movies like Sidney Lumet's “Fail Safe” (1964) and “The Group” (1966), Oliver Stone's “Nixon” (1995) and “Primary Colors” (1998). He made his feature directorial debut with “Beware the Blob” (1972) and has directed episodes of TV series, including “Dallas.”
As for his personal life, Hagman has been married to Maj Axelsson since 1954. Drinking heavily since he was a teenager, he underwent a 16-hour life-saving liver transplant in 1995. After the surgery, he became the national spokesperson for the 1996 U.S. Transplant Games presented by the National Kidney Foundation. For his efforts in intensifying public consciousness of the idea of organ donation, he received an honor in 1996. The vegetarian has since continued to be an advocate of organ donation and transplants.
Hagman enjoys fishing, sailing, skiing, backpacking and touring in his personally designed custom motor home. He also collects canes, hats and flags.
Childhood and Family:
Larry Martin Hageman was born on September 21, 1931, in Fort Worth, Texas, to Benjamin Jack Hageman, a district attorney, and Mary Martin, a popular Broadway actress. His parents divorced in 1936 when Larry was five years old. He was raised by his grandmother in Texas and California until she died. He then joined his mother in New York City before eventually moving back to Texas when he was fifteen. There, he found work as a ranch hand. Larry attended the strict Black Fox Military Institute and Weatherford High School in Texas. Upon graduating from high school in 1949, his mother encouraged him to pursue an acting career, which he pursued after a year at the Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, in New York.
Larry joined the U.S. Air Force and when he was stationed in England, he met Swedish designer Maj Axelsson, whom he married on December 18, 1954. They welcomed their first child, daughter Kristina Mary Heidi Hagman, on February 17, 1958. Their son, Preston Hagman, was born on May 2, 1962.
Larry and his wife have a home in Sundsvall, Sweden, Maj's old hometown, which they visit every year. He loves motorcycles and owns a Harley. Larry is the grandfather of three, Noelle, Rebecca, and Tara.
I Dream of Jeannie
Son of a successful Broadway performer, Larry Hagman decided to follow in his mother's footsteps after dropping out of New York's Bard College. He got his stage career start with the Margo Jones Theatre-in-the-Round in Dallas and then appeared in the New York City Center production of “Taming the Shrew.” At age 19, Hagman moved to England to join his mother as a cast member of the hit show “South Pacific” and went on to stay there for the next five years. While in England, he served in the U.S. Air Force where he found time to produce and direct several theater productions for members of the service. He also met his wife there.
Returning to New York City upon finishing his military service, Hagman found employment in a series of Broadway and off-Broadway productions, including his Broadway debut, “God and Kate Murphy,” “A Priest in the House,” “The Nervous Set,” “Once Around the Block,” “Career,” “The Warm Peninsula,” “Comes A Day,” “The Beauty Part” and others. His TV career began in the early 1960s with numerous guest stints in such shows as “The Alcoa Hour” and later, during 1961 to 1963, he was chosen to play Ed Gibson on the daytime serial “The Edge of Night.” After eight years in New York, he decided to move his family to Hollywood so that he could further pursue his career.
In 1964, Hagman made his feature acting debut with a part in the comedy “Ensign Pulver,” a less than prospering installment to the hit “Mr. Roberts,” which he followed with another small part in the Sidney Lumet political thriller “Fail Safe” (also 1964). He did not gain notice until two years later when he was cast as Harald Peterson, a philandering playwright, on “The Group” (1966), again directed by Lumet.
Hagman, however, fared better on the small screen when he portrayed Anthony 'Tony' Nelson on the NBC comedy series “I Dream of Jeannie” (1965-1970), which explored the relationship between a mortal and a supernatural being. Starring as the good-natured astronaut whose life was changed by the gorgeous blonde bombshell genie (played by Barbara Eden), the actor showcased a natural endowment for slapstick and light comedy and enjoyed success with the role throughout the show's five-season run.
After the demise of the series, Hagman tried to recapture his success in TV comedy by taking on roles in such shows as “The Good Life” (1971, as Albert Miller) and “Here We Go Again” (1973, as Richard Evans), but none were successful. He made guest appearances in a number of TV series like “Dan August” (1971), “Medical Center” (1973), “McCloud” (1974), “Marcus Welby, M.D.” (1975) and “Ellery Queen” and acted in many TV films, most notably the TV adaptation of the hit Broadway musical “Applause” (1973), opposite Lauren Bacall. There, he amazed many with his talent for dancing and singing. Hagman also found a similar fate on the big screen. Some of his work directing and making cameo appearances were 1972's “Beware the Blob,” a tasteless sequel to the 50s horror flick “The Blob,” and supporting Art Carney in “Harry and Tonto” (1974).
Hagman again enjoyed success when he won a starring role on the CBS primetime soap opera “Dallas” (1978-1991), opposite Patrick Duffy, Victoria Principal, Barbara Bel Geddes and Linda Gray. About a rich Texas family, the program became one of the most-seen series of all time and Hagman, who played the evil millionaire J.R. Ewing, won six Soap Opera Digest awards for Outstanding Villain (1984, 1985, 1986, 1988 and 1989) and Outstanding Actor in a Leading Role (1986), two Emmy nominations for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series (1981, 1982) and four Golden Globe nominations for Best Performance by an Actor in a TV-Series - Drama (1981, 1982, 1983 and 1985). The actor solidified his power on the show by negotiating a higher salary and directed several episodes. He eventually took over the title of co-executive producer.
After “Dallas” left the airwaves in 1991 after an impressive 14 1/2 seasons, Hagman returned to series TV with “Staying Afloat” (1994), but the mystery failed to capture an audience. He also directed Carroll O'Connor and Carl Weathers in seven episodes of the drama series “In the Heat of the Night” (1992-1994). But, after appearing as 'Jack Jones' on Oliver Stone's “Nixon” (1995), he was forced to put acting on the backburner for a while to undergo a liver transplant as a result of heavy drinking. He returned in November 1996 to reprise his coveted role on “Dallas: J.R. Returns” (1996), from which he picked up a 1997 Lone Star Film & Television award for Best TV Actor. He then resumed his TV series career in early 1997 with a costarring role in the drama series “Orleans.” Although the series had a short life, it gave the actor some of the best reviews of his long-running career. He followed the project up with roles in the miniseries “Third Twin” (1997), the film “Primary Colors” (1998), based on a bestselling book by Joe Klein, and the second reunion television movie “Dallas: War of the Ewings” (1998, also an executive producer).
More recently, in 2006, Hagman provided the voice of Wallace Brady on an episode of the hit animated series “The Simpsons.” He also had a recurring role as Burt Landau in the drama series “Nip/Tuck,” starring Dylan Walsh and Julian McMahon. Though his acting jobs are now rare, the TV vet has kept active with appearances in many TV shows, such as “Intimate Portrait” (2002), “The Heaven and Earth Show” (2003), “The View” (2004-2006), “The Paul O'Grady Show” (2005), “Access Hollywood” (2006), “TV Land Confidential: The Untold Stories” (2007), and others.
TV Land: Pop Culture Award, “Dallas,” 2006
Golden Camera (Germany): Millennium Award, 1999
Lone Star Film & Television: Best TV Actor, “Dallas: J.R. Returns,” 1997
Lone Star Film & Television: Special Award, Texas Legend, 1996
Soap Opera Digest: Outstanding Villain: Prime Time, “Dallas,” 1989
Soap Opera Digest: Outstanding Villain: Prime Time, “Dallas,” 1988
Soap Opera Digest: Outstanding Actor in a Leading Role on a Prime Time Serial, “Dallas,” 1986
Soap Opera Digest: Outstanding Villain: Prime Time, “Dallas,” 1986
Soap Opera Digest: Outstanding Villain: Prime Time Serial, “Dallas,” 1985
Soap Opera Digest: Outstanding Villain: Prime Time Soap Opera, “Dallas,” 1984
Aftonbladet TV Prize (Sweden): TV Prize, Best Foreign TV Personality - Male (Bästa utländska man), 1984