The recent news of Larry Hagman’s death made me pause to remember my associations with the infamous J.R. Ewing and Hagman’s mother, Mary Martin. According to the database, Credo Reference, Mary Martin, was a Weatherford native. She married a local Fort Worth lawyer, Benjamin Hageman and gave birth in Fort Worth to a son, Larry, in 1931. Martin and son soon went to live with the maternal grandmother in Weatherford freeing up Martin's time so that she could work on theater. I remember Martin as a lithe, short-haired pixie in green tights playing her most famous role as Peter in Peter Pan.
Larry, who changed his name from Hageman to Hagman, was most well-known for his two television series roles: Major Tony Nelson in I Dream of Jeannie
and his role as the notorious oil-baron, J.R. Ewing of Dallas. According to the database, Literature Resource Center, my search of “Hagman, Larry” revealed that Hagman penned a book in 1980 entitled Hello Darlin’: Tall (And Absolutely True) Tales About My Life. This book is available at numerous libraries in Texas. Tarleton students, staff and faculty may obtain it via a TexShare card or Interlibrary Loan.
I lived outside of the state of Texas at the height of the Dallas series, and while I wasn’t dying to know "who shot J.R.", I was always interested in watching the opening of show which panned over the skyline of the city of Dallas and showed glimpses of Texas ranchland. My heart felt a little closer to home seeing familiar sights and hearing Texas accents flowing out of the mouths of characters such as J.R. Ewing and Sue Ellen.
According to a friend of mine who lives in Weatherford, she and her mother (who is from Weatherford) actually ran into Hagman while out and about in town. She asked him for his autograph. He declined saying that he did not have any photos with him and would not sign a piece of paper. He did promise to send her an autographed photo if she would give him her address which she did, although she thought that she would never see the promised photo. True to his word, an 8x10 autographed photo showed up in her mailbox a week later!