Larry Hagman's life, legacy: A closer look

Larry Hagman
In this Oct. 9, 2008 photo, actor Larry Hagman poses in front of the Southfork Ranch mansion in Parker, Texas made famous in the television show "Dallas." Actor Larry Hagman, who for more than a decade played villainous patriarch J.R. Ewing in the TV soap "Dallas," has died at the age of 81, his family said Saturday Nov. 24, 2012.
File,AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez

(CBS News) Actor Larry Hagman has died at the age of 81 in Texas.

Hagman's most famous role was that of J.R. Ewing, the fabulously wealthy, charming and conniving Texas oilman on the CBS show "Dallas."

The show aired on CBS for 13-years and was one of the most successful in television history.

In the 1980s, when someone talked about Dallas, you had to ask them if they were talking about the TV series or the actual city in Texas.

Gallery: Larry Hagman 1931-2012

Even "South Fork" -- the ranch where the fictional Ewing family lived became the second most-famous "white house" in the world.

But it was the cliffhanger that ended the 1980 season that became an iconic moment and cemented Hagman's place in television history. It was one of the most famous moments in television history. The world asked "Who shot J.R.?"

And now the world mourns the loss of the actor who played J.R. Ewing in the hit show.

But Hagman rose to fame as good-natured astronaut, Maj. Anthony nelson in the '60s TV show "I Dream of Jeannie."

Hagman came from a show business family. His mother was Broadway star Mary Martin.

Hagman was candid about his personal life, acknowledging years of heavy drinking that so damaged his liver, he eventually needed a transplant. After many years of smoking, Hagman quit and became an anti-smoking advocate.

Recently he acknowledged that his wife of nearly six decades has Alzheimer's disease, and he was battling throat cancer.

But Hagman's spirit never faltered. Earlier this year, "Dallas" was revived as a new series on TNT.

In an appearance on "CBS This Morning" in June Hagman told CBS News' Jeff Glor what he thought about returning to television as the villain that everyone loved to hate.

Glor said, "Larry, when they first came to you and said listen we want to reboot this -- what did you think?"

Hagman replied, "Yahoo!"

"Dallas" ran on CBS from 1979 to 1991. His role as J.R. Ewing, the slippery oil man, made him a cultural icon and a symbol of 1980s American excess. Hagman said he loved playing J.R. because he could get away with anything, but acknowledged that he couldn't get away with cancer.

Hagman moved back to Dallas for the show's revival. He died on Friday in the city that was synonymous with his success.

Hagman is survived by his wife of 59 years, two children and five grandchildren. Fellow "Dallas" co-stars Patrick Duffy and Linda Gray were at his bedside when he died. Gray described Hagman as her best friend of 35 years and said, "He brought joy to everybody he knew."