Saturday, November 24, 2012

Larry 'JR' Hagman, Dallas star, dies at 81 — in Dallas

Larry Hagman has died at 81 in Dallas, Texas of complications from cancer, surrounded by family and friends, including Linda Gray, who played his wife on television, and Dallas costar Patrick Duffy.
     He was filming a second season of TNT's sequel to the CBS prime time soap which ran from 1978 to 1991, garnering 355 million viewers worldwide at its apex — the 1980 third season opener's reveal of Who Shot JR.
USA Today
     In the US, that episode got a 53.3 rating because an astounding 76% share of the nation's TV viewers — 83 million — watched CBS that night to find out that Bing Crosby's daughter Mary did the dirty deed.
     Hagman was born in Ft. Worth in 1931, the son of Broadway legend Mary Martin.
     In 1984, Cinema Canada republished an interview with famed Swedish director Ingmar Bergman who confessed his fascination with Dallas:
Cinema Canada: You can be harsh towards actors.
Ingmar Bergman: No! It's not like that! I only behave that way when they ask for it. When you're ill and the doctor says: 'We have to take it out,' you don't ask him to be nice, you ask him to use clean instruments, to be objective, not to be afraid, but to take it out, God, and quickly. With actors it's the same: I see there's something wrong, and I have to cut it out. Of course cutting out a rotten spot hurts. But it has to be done.
     The worst doctors I know are the people who make Dallas. Dallas is written badly, directed badly, acted badly and filmed badly. Dallas has no limits in its tastelessness, lack of talent and completely cynical way of handling people. (He sighs) All of it makes Dallas so incredibly fascinating.
     Larry Hagman first got famous as Tony Nelson, the astronaut in NBC's I Dream of Genie. Although he loved his Dallas character, he hated Sheldon Leonard's I Dream of Jeannie scripts and was so difficult to work with that the producers seriously considered getting rid of him and replacing him with another actor. Darren McGavin was at the top of the list for Hagman's replacement. They even worked out a story where Tony lost Jeannie and McGavin found her, but the studio execs loved Hagman and wouldn't consider a change.

     Jeannie trivia from the International Movie Database:
  • Jeannie was born on 1 April 64 B.C.
  • The fancy antique bottle in which Jeannie called home was actually a decorative Jim Beam liquor decanter, decorated and painted with gold leaf by the show's art department.
  • According to Barbara Eden, network executives and censors were unconcerned about her navel being seen until someone casually mentioned during the third season that it was occasionally visible when the waistband of her costume shifted. After that her navel was required to be covered.
  • The famous theme music was actually not used during season one, but since the first season was black and white, it was generally not syndicated with the rest of the series, so few people have seen it.
  • In the episode "How to Marry an Astronaut", Barbara Eden's cries for help from inside the champagne bottle were real. As a prank, director Claudio Guzmán called "lunch!" and had everyone leave the set, leaving Eden trapped in the bottle.
  • Jeannie's harem shoes were made by Neiman Marcus.
  • In one episode, Tony and Roger are working training a chimp named "Sam". This was seen as a slap at the show Bewitched, whose producers accused "Jeannie" of stealing some of their ideas.
  • On the show, all of the characters drove Pontiac automobiles.
  • Season one was filmed in black-and-white because NBC did not want to pay for the extra expense of filming it in color (The network did not believe the series would last beyond one season. According to Sidney Sheldon in his autobiography "The Other Side Of Me", he offered to pay the extra $400 an episode needed for color filming at the beginning of the series. Screen Gems executive Jerry Hyams advised him, "Sidney, don't throw your money away.")
  • "I Dream of Jeannie" was the last television series to be broadcast in black and white. It began broadcasting "in living color" beginning with Season 2.
  • Originally, Jeannie's power was activated by folding her arms followed by a series of eye flutters. This was soon replaced by nodding her head and blinking once.
  • In Season 2, sets from other famous shows are used as locations. The most recognizable locations are the house and office featured on ABC's Bewitched plus locations from The Partridge Family and The Monkees.
  • The Nelson home still stands on the Warner Brothers Ranch in Burbank, CA, where it has a new role as the Ranch Operations office. Besides minor cosmetic changes, the house remains almost exactly the same after nearly 50 years.
  • Songwriters Gerry Goffin and Carole King wrote a theme song titled "Jeannie" but was rejected before the show's premiere.

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