I wasn’t covering television when “Dallas” was such a huge hit during the ‘80s. That was ill-spent time covering sports which meant I found out “Who Shot J.R.?” through a radio report that I heard coming home from covering a Friday night football game.
That means I never had the chance to talk to Larry Hagman during the original run of the CBS prime-time soap opera. When I moved into entertainment writing on a full-time basis, it looked like “Dallas” was dead an gone thus eliminating any chance to talk to Hagman.
He would have ended up being one of the big interviews that got away had not TNT brought the series back. The updated version is suppose to be about the next generation of Ewings but the main draw in the first season was Hagman, Patrick Duffy and Linda Gray. My chance to interview Hagman came when that trio showed up in January at the Television Critics Association tour.
Hagman was as spunky as ever fending off a question about why he would come back to the role after so many years with “How many people do you know working at 80?”
He was working on the show despite having to go through treatment for the cancer that would eventually take his life a few days ago. Hagman was able to work on the show because the producers grouped together scenes from several shows to make the best use of Hagman’s time.
As for his health at that time, Hagman said, “My treatment’s going along very well, and I’ve been fine. I worked yesterday. I had three major scenes yesterday and had a lot of fun.”
He’s one of a handful of actors who can say they made a career out of playing one of the best known characters in TV history. It was finally nice to get to talk with him about his days on Southfork Ranch.