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Great Remembrance of One of TV's Best & Brightest Stars!
on March 4, 2013
So tonight (3-4-13) is Larry Hagman's last night on DALLAS, so this weekend as a tribute I pulled his biography from deep within my to-read shelf for a quick go around before the episode. This slight (250+ pages) memoir manages to cover lots of ground and is a fast read, full of funny anecdotes and a myriad of stage, television and film roles, some memorable, some not, as well as warm remembrances of his parents, Texas lawyer Benjamin Hagman and, of course, his mother, Broadway legend Mary Martin. The couple is divorced when Larry is young and his childhood is spent in a series of military and boarding schools (which Hagman enjoys, unlike the hell experienced there in Gene Wilder's memoir). His mother gets him some early jobs in the theatre, but his talent and stamina keeps him there. Before making it in I DREAM OF JEANNIE Hagman has humorous encounters with the likes of Jack Nicholson, Lee Marvin, George C. Scott, as well as numerous stagehands, carnies and a traveling secretary that figures into perhaps the dirtiest story I have read in any memoir. Money in the early days is especially a problem, and with his bride Maj (married in 1954) and two children, funds in NYC and LA are tight. Until JEANNIE. After that he slides through the 70s, unapologetic about his drug use and prankster lifestyle (no talking on Sunday, frequent parades down the beach, etc), as well as work with Lauren Bacall, Raquel Welch and Art Carny. Then DALLAS. Hagman dishes on the behind the scenes negotiations and the salary drama of the WHO SHOT JR years with both humor and honesty. (Sidenote: I was such a fan that I once had a cat named Dallas). Once DALLAS is cancelled comes the well-documented medical crisis that required a liver transplant, followed by his successful recovery. The memoir was written in 2001, so unfortunately there is no mention of the DALLAS comeback, but as a remembrance of one of television's brightest stars, it stands as a great - and important - biography.