24 November 2012 12:34 PM, PST | Vulture | See recent Vulture news »

Larry Hagman, who died Friday of cancer at 81, wasn’t just a gifted actor. He was a great star who pulled off one of the most unlikely reinventions in American TV. Whether playing the befuddled Major Anthony “Tony” Nelson on I Dream of Jeannie or raising hell as J.R. Ewing on Dallas, there was always an alertness and joy in his acting, but the breadth of Hagman’s talent becomes undeniable when you put those key roles next to each other.  On Jeannie, a sprightly, casually sexist 1960s sitcom about an Air Force officer and his gal-Friday-in-a-bottle, Hagman was Cary Grant transformed into Ralph Bellamy by a fairy tale contrivance, disentangling himself from mishaps while preserving scraps of dignity. J.R. was as powerful as Nelson was powerless — a cartoonish prime-time version of a Shakespearean devil figure, treating Texas as an immense stage upon which he could mount any »


- Matt Zoller Seitz

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