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Thursday, 1 November, 2001, 10:58 GMT
Hagman's hellraising return
Larry Hagman
Larry Hagman: Taking life as it comes
By BBC News Online's Rebecca Thomas

As wicked JR in the TV series Dallas, Larry Hagman kept millions of viewers endlessly amused with his dastardly exploits.

Now, 10 years after the hit show about the warring Ewings wound up, Hagman is out to entertain all over again - but this time as the writer of an outrageous autobiography.

Hello Darlin' tells in candid detail of a life of stardom spent drinking excessively and taking drugs.

Hagman recalls how he first took to smoking marijuana in the 60s with fellow actor Jack Nicholson.

He later recounts how amazing he found the experience of LSD - introduced to him by musician David Crosby of Crosby, Stills and Nash.


I am a firm believer in natural progression - if you go with the flow nice things just seem to happen to you

Larry Hagman

But it was his four-bottles-of-champagne-a-day habit that eventually proved to be Hagman's downfall, leading to a cirrhotic liver and eventual transplant.

Now aged 70, Hagman has been teetotal since 1992. And despite his brush with death, the actor remains chipper about life.

"Every day is a joy and cause to thank God that I have my liver. It's give-back time," Hagman says in his characteristic southern fried drawl.

"But I have always been pretty relaxed. I am a firm believer in natural progression. If you go with the flow nice things just seem to happen to you."

Texan

Hello Darlin' is written entirely in this laid back, matter-of-fact tone.

And Hagman comes across as a rare individual, one who has genuinely never let anything bug him - least of all becoming a worldwide star.

He did not chase celebrity. Born and bred in Texas, he originally wanted to be a cowboy.

Patrick Duffy
Patrick Duffy as Bobby was meant to be the star

He took up acting - his mother Mary Martin's profession - when he realised that being a cowboy involved "too much manual labour".

His part in Dallas fell into his lap - just another undeveloped script among many others that he habitually perused.

"Nobody could have thought Dallas would run as long as 13 years," Hagman says.

"And I was never intended to become the star. JR was originally a secondary character to Bobby and Pam.

"But I was from Texas and knew the vernacular and ceremonial of Texan life so I came to the fore that way."

Hagman says he soon began to relish his conniving role.

"It was a wonderful part. I got all the ladies, money, oil and big cars. Being a nice guy like Bobby would have been pretty dull - and it's hard work."

Faithful

Off screen too, Hagman recounts how life became increasingly more fun as his fame and fortune grew.

In particular, he was never short of female attention, telling most memorably how he once found a naked blonde in his hotel bed.

Linda Gray
Screen wife Linda Gray is a firm friend

But there, he stresses, is where the similarity with JR ends. Unlike his screen character, Hagman has remained faithful to his wife Maj for 48 years.

He is also devoted to his two children, although his own childhood was spent shuttling between his divorced parents. He also hated his abusive step-father.

But again Hagman says he bears no bitterness: "I didn't know what to compare it to - it was just my life. I just went along bouncing from one family to another. It was a lot of fun."

So, life in general is a joy for Hagman who, although not having acted for some while, busies himself in plenty of other ways.

He lends his support to drug rehabilitation programmes in the US. And he regularly sees fellow Dallas stars Patrick Duffy and Linda Gray, who have remained good friends.

"I am out of work not retired but I don't mind. I don't need to work. I'm comfortable - very," Hagman concludes, breaking into his inimitable JR Cheshire Cat grin.

Hello Darlin' is published by Simon and Schuster

See also:

05 Apr 01 | Entertainment
Echoes of who shot JR
26 Apr 00 | Entertainment
Duffy finds feet in Art
29 Aug 01 | Showbiz
Dallas star Graduates to West End
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