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Actor Larry Hagman dies at 81

The Dallas Morning News reported that Larry Hagman, 81, star of the celebrated television show "Dallas," died there Friday.

The newspaper, citing unnamed members of his family, said he died at Medical City Dallas Hospital.

On its website, the Morning News said death was attributed by the family to complications from his recent battle with cancer. He had announced last year that he was suffering from throat cancer.

Contacted late Friday by telephone, a spokeswoman for the hospital said :"We are aware of published reports that Larry Hagman passed away at Medical City."

However, Chris Hawes, the spokeswoman said " I do not have authorization to release any information."

As oil magnate J.R. Ewing, the actor shocked, astounded and fascinated millions of viewers through more than 300 episodes, by placing before them the essence of scheming villainy, and seeming to devote a kind of slippery charm to testing the limits of duplicity and sharp practice.

He was at the center of a world of greed, dynastic intrigue and chilling manipulation amid the romance of oil drilling, and cattle ranching, and the mystique of Texas and the West.

On screen, he wore a western hat, and a grin that seemed to show his delight in his conniving ways.

Nothing less than worldwide frenzy was created when he fell victim to gunfire in the last episode of the 1980 season. Few major issues seemed more compelling than the question of "Who Shot J.R.?"

The original series ran on the CBS network. New episodes began to air on the TNT network this year.

The Texas-born son of Broadway actress Mary Martin, the actor spent a year at Bard College in New York, and had worked steadily in movies, television and the theater for many years. He made appearances in more than 60 theatrical movies and tv productions.

An Air Force veteran himself, one of his best known roles was as an Air Force officer in the popular television series "I Dream of Jeannie."

He drank heavily for years, and it was reported that a liver transplant in 1995 had saved his life.

He and his wife, whom he married in 1954, had two children and lived in California.

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