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OTRC: 'Dallas' actor Larry Hagman dies at 81

Larry Hagman appears at DragonCon 2010 on Sept. 4, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia. (flickr.com/photos/53065137@N07)

Larry Hagman, a film and TV actor best known for roles on "Dallas" and "I Dream of Jeannie," has died at age 81.

Linda Gray, Hagman's co-star on "Dallas," released a statement through her agent, Jeffrey Lane, Friday night:

"Larry Hagman was my best friend for 35 years. He was the pied piper of life and brought joy to everyone he knew. He was creative, generous, funny, loving and talented and I will miss him enormously. He was an original and lived life to the full. The world was a brighter place because of Larry Hagman."

Lane said Hagman died sometime Friday afternoon and that Gray was at Hagman's bedside.

Hagman, who played evil oil baron J.R. Ewing in the 1980s series "Dallas," revealed late last year that he was battling throat cancer.

The actor had also battled several health problems in the past. After years of heavy drinking, doctors discovered a malignant tumor in his liver in 1995. He underwent a liver transplant.

Hagman was reprising his role as Ewing on TNT's reboot of "Dallas." The cast filmed the show last year while Hagman underwent treatment for cancer. The show premiered June 13.

Hagman also had a small role on "Desperate Housewives" in 2011.

In addition to his own health battle, Hagman had been taking care of his wife of some 58 years, Swedish-born Maj Axelsson, who suffers from Alzheimer's disease and requires 24-hour nursing care. The couple has two children.

"Larry was back in his beloved Dallas re-enacting the iconic role he loved most," his family said in a written statement reported in the "Dallas Morning News" Friday night. "Larry's family and close friends had joined him in Dallas for the Thanksgiving holiday. When he passed, he was surrounded by loved ones. It was a peaceful passing, just as he had wished for. The family requests privacy at this time."

TNT statement regarding Larry Hagman:

"All of us at TNT are deeply saddened at the news of Larry Hagman's passing. He was a wonderful human being and an extremely gifted actor. We will be forever thankful that a whole new generation of people got to know and appreciate Larry through his performance as J.R. Ewing. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this very difficult time."

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