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Larry Hagman has died at the age of 81. The actor who spent more than a decade playing TV villain JR Ewing suffered from cancer and cirrhosis of the liver. He died in hospital on Friday afternoon according to a family statement.
Born in Texas, Hagman battled alcoholism for many years. Even on the hardworking set of Dallas, he consumed five bottles of champagne a day for years and was finally diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver in 1992.
Three years later he had a liver transplant and kept a photo of the organ donor above his mirror. “I say a prayer for him every morning,” he said.
Despite this, Hagman continued to drink secretly until a further life-saving operation in 2003 forced him to stop.
Hagman first performed as JR Ewing in 1978 and became its highest-paid star, as the programme came to define 1980s excess. During 13 years as the most scheming oil tycoon in Dallas, JR in his Stetson became one of the most distinctive faces on television screens across the world.
It quickly became one of the network’s top-rated programmes – with its 356 episodes being seen by an estimated 300 million people in 57 countries . It was revived this year and is currently screened on Channel 5.