Saturday, December 1, 2012

Larry Hagman - actor and bagman

So, last Sunday morning when I read the London Sunday Times I did a double take at a story on the front page.

In a trip to Romania in the 1980s with his wife, Hagman was asked by then dictator Nicolae Ceausescu for permission to put a giant portrait of Hagman, as JR Ewing on the side of a building.

The television program Dallas was very popular in Romania and the dictator thought that popularity could some how rub off on him and his regime (it didn't he was executed in 1989 in the uprising that brought down the communist government).

Hagman agreed, provided that a bag of hard currency was left in a ladies room in the government building for his wife to pick up the next day. It was and she did. Hagman said a brown paper bag of money was there and they spent it pretty quickly.

Hagman told this story to the Sunday Times but asked that it not be published until after his death.

Truth can be stranger than fiction!

Hagman had also said in previous public interviews that he thought Dallas had a lot to do with the downfall of not only the Ceausescu regime but Soviet Communism. In an interviews with the AP, he said, “I think we were directly or indirectly responsible for the fall of the empire. They would see the wealthy Ewings and say, 'hey, we don't have all this stuff.' I think it was good old-fashioned greed that got them to question their authority.”

Hagman had always been a Republican, but he shocked many when he became very outspoken against George W. Bush. He once said that Bush “is a sad figure, not well-educated despite all his advantages, who does not get out of America much,”

Hagman had also become very 'green' (not just with money from Romanians), drove a Prius and had converted his Ojai home to solar power and self-recycling water systems. He said his environmental commitment was 'penance' for all those years of making the Ewing oil barons seem so “damned charismatic.”

Larry Hagman was indeed charismatic.

As an actor, he will always be remembered for Dallas and I Dream of Jeannie, but for me I will always remember him for a couple of smaller roles: the Sheriff in one of my favorite westerns, The Hired Hand with Peter Fonda and Warren Oates, and the interpreter for Henry Fonda's President in Fail Safe.

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