Larry Hagman as J.R. Ewing on Dallas

Larry Hagman as J.R. Ewing on Dallas

Larry Hagman,whose career on television ranged from the befuddled master of a mischievous genie to a scheming Texas oilman, has died in a Dallas hospital from complications related to throat cancer, according to reports. He was 81.

Hagman’s career began on the stage and spanned more than 60 years, but he will always be best known as J.R. Ewing, the wealthy maverick oilman with a Machiavellian touch for business.

The show “Dallas” debuted in 1978 and focused on the wealthy “Ewing,” family. Episodes were fraught with double-dealing, family feuds, violence, adultery and other nefarious doings. It gained a worldwide following and made Hagman one of the richest men in television.

“Dallas” was revived in June on the TNT with a new generation of Ewings. But Hagman and other original cast members, Linda Gray, who played J.R.’s wife, and Patrick Duffy, who was his brother Bobby, reprised their roles to give the show continuity.

In October 2011, shortly before filming began on the new “Dallas,” Hagman announced that he had a “treatable” form of cancer,” according to The New York Times. It was the latest in a series of health problems, mostly related to heavy drinking and smoking.

Larry Hagman Talks Dallas Behind Scenes on Jay Leno (watch)

In July 1995, he received a controversial liver transplant after he was diagnosed with cancer and cirrhosis of the liver, both of which were attributed to smoking and alcohol abuse. Critics claimed he did not merit the operation because his condition was largely self-inflicted. He quit smoking and drinking after that.

Hagman grew up in a show business family. His mother, Mary Martin, was a Broadway actress, who was signed by Paramount in Hollywood in 1938. He developed a love of acting and comedy while in high school in Texas. After leaving the U.S. Air Force in 1956, he worked on Broadway and made guest appearances on television shows.

His break through roles came in 1964, when he debuted on the big-screen in the movie “Ensign Pulver,” The move starred Robert Walker Jr., Burl Ives, Walter Matthau and Tommy Sands. But it was also notable because Hagman, Jack Nicholson and James Farentino had minor parts.

Hagman also appeared in “Fail-Safe” with Henry Fonda and a year later he appeared with John Wayne and Kirk Douglas in the 1965 war film “In Harm’s Way.”

He starred in numerous television movies, but his big breakthrough came in the 1965 sitcom “I Dream of Genie.” Hagman played Air Force officer Anthony “Tony” Nelson, an astronaut who discovers an ancient bottle on a beach.

Inside is a gorgeous genie, named Jeannie, played by Barbara Eden, who declares him her master. The show ran for 139 episodes over five seasons.

After he died, Hagman told The New York Times he wanted his ashes “spread over a field and have marijuana and wheat planted and harvest it in a couple of years and then have a big marijuana cake, enough for 200 to 300 people. People would eat a little of Larry.”