Larry Hagman talks to Ultimate Dallas

The wonderful Larry Hagman answered your questions in this Ultimate Dallas exclusive interview.

Our Ultimate Dallas Interviewer asked Mr. Hagman all your fantastic questions sent into UltimateDallas.Com.

Read the transcript below to find out what Larry Hagman had to say as we celebrate 25 years of DALLAS.

Welcome Larry Hagman,  fans who use the Ultimate Dallas site have been sending in their questions so let's kick off.    

Sue_Ellen in Sydney asks - How are you doing these days Larry Hagman? Can you believe its 25 years since Dallas was first shown?

Larry Hagman - Oh my god, twenty five years? Shows you how little I think about that, my god I didn't know it was 25 years. Well hotdog I'm still here and so is the show.

Danny_James in UK asks -  Over the past year, if not more, you've been all over the world promoting your book, of which I have a copy, and I think its brill by the way. But my question is having been promoting for so long, how have you enjoyed the whole experience?

Larry Hagman - Well yes so far, I was recently in Germany and they had me do six book signings a day and that was too much so I had them cut it down to about three. It becomes taxing at times but its a lot of fun and you meet a lot of nice people.

Giamma in Italy asks will come to Italy to present your book?

Larry Hagman - I think I will, I'm not sure when.

Jackson in Oslo asks - Mr Hagman your book was fantastic but I also wanted to ask if you use the internet much yourself ?

Larry Hagman - I don't use it much, I hardly even know how to get on it. I have just paid an enormous amount of money for a DELL laptop and its a like giving somebody a 747. I can barely get on the internet to get my mail.

Pamela in London asks - Am I correct in thinking you don't think President Bush is doing a very good job? Do you think JR himself would make a good President or how about you Larry ? I would vote for you

Larry Hagman - The war changes for and against. I'm for all of our young men and women who are serving in this conflict, it is not their fault they were sent there. I think JR would make a better President than the one we have now.

Interviewer - What about yourself? Would you make a good President?

Larry Hagman - No I don't have the focus, if I had to I suppose I will but I really don't have the focus for the job.

Interviewer - Well Pamela would vote for you

Larry Hagman - She would like to see me as President? Where is she from?

Interviewer - From London (laughs)

Larry Hagman - Well she won't have the chance to vote for me that's for sure

Interviewer - Maybe you could be Primeminister then

Larry Hagman - Oh god no, I think that guy is so persuasive, Tony Blair, he makes a lot more sense than the guy we have.

Interviewer - Some would say he just follows President Bush

Larry Hagman - Well maybe that's it, I don't know. But he just seems too smart for that , maybe he knows the situation better than we do. Anyhow we are all committed together so there's not much we can do about it. We have to back our children out there who are killing and being killed.

Ben in Paris - I am only 15 and like Dallas. Why do you think its still so popular ?

Larry Hagman - I honestly don't know, maybe it's a little slice of history, maybe your a history buff.

Luis in Peru asks What do you think of the idea of a new Dallas movie ?

Larry Hagman - Well I haven't been informed much about that, I have heard about it but nobody has approached me about it, I don't think they want the original cast for some reason.

Interviewer - Ultimate Dallas did an interview with David Jacobs a few months ago and he suggested you could play a Senator in this movie.

Larry Hagman - Oh really? Well they would have to pay a lot for a Senator and of course Senators in this country cost a lot too, (laughs), to become one, costs about 30 million dollars. I think I'm worth at least that don't you?

Interviewer - Of course and a lot more (laughs)

R.B asks Who would he like to see play the role of J.R. besides himself........??

Larry Hagman - Well I think they broke the mould when they made me and being humble is one of my great assets.

Jody in Scotland asks On the internet there is a story called Dallas Legacy and JR is meaner than he ever was. What do you think JR would be like today?

Larry Hagman - As usual, benevolent, family loving, good business man.

Jock88 in Detroit asks Do you think some of the decisions made on Dallas were more personal than professional e.g. bringing back Patrick Duffy and reducing the roles of the women. Do you think on reflection some of these decisions hurt the show? I can't help but think Victoria Principal left because her character was totally dumbed down at this time to beef up the character of Bobby.

Larry Hagman - I don't know, I wasn't aware of anything like that. Maybe you are reading more than there is to it. I think she left to make some more money which indeed she has. She is a multi multi multi millionaire. You know she has her own skin care, exercise and diet books? I think she made a hundred million dollars last year and she's been doing that for fifteen years. So that girl is smart, she made that Dallas role into a physical and beautiful icon in this country.

Interviewer - Are you still in contact with Victoria?

Larry Hagman - Well we see each other occasionally, at a Charity banquet or a ball, something like that.

Mrs Jock in USA asks Larry , do you think the show would have been as successful if JR had not been shot?

Larry Hagman - I was shot when I think it was number one. That was the catalyst for the interest in the show. Certainly it went on for a long time after that but that's what really kicked it off. Of course a lot of people watched it just because of the novelty of the situation.

Russ DAngelo in Long Island asks I have been a "Dallas' fan for over 20 years. Who is your favorite mistress that JR was involved with?

Larry Hagman - Holly Harwood was my favorite, she was so beautiful. There was another girl, she was gorgeous, Mandy Winger, she was such a good mistress, so nice to me and such a nice girl. Deborah Sheldon, a gorgeous girl and really nice too.

Jessica in Washington asks Do you have a favorite line?

Larry Hagman - Once you get rid of integrity the rest is a piece of cake

Clifford in Canada - I absolutely loved your book. I know there were some negative comments thrown at the show by Donna Reed and Dack Rambo. Were you upset by their comments or is all part of the acting world?

Larry Hagman - I really loved Donna, she was a wonderful woman, what happened with her was that she got off a plane in Paris during our hiatus and a journalist ran up to her and said 'What does it feel like being fired from Dallas?' , and that was the first time she had been aware of that. Which I thought was kind of awful, you would of thought, call her agent, maybe they did and the agent didn't get a hold of her.
You know Hollywood is a weird and wonderful place, I didn't know I Dream of Jeanie had been cancelled after 5 years until I went back to go on the lot to pick up some clothes and things I had in my dressing room and the guy asked me who I was and I said 'Bill this is Larry Hagman Hagman' , "Well I'm sorry Mr Hagman there is no pass down here for you", and I said "Really why?" and he said "You know your shows been cancelled". That's the first time I knew about it too, this is a weird and wonderful town.
So I don't know what she said about me to tell you the truth, I don't know if it was her herself or her husband, or her agent. You never know about these things, some things are printed maliciously in a magazine like the Star or the National Enquirer, one of those things. It's just supposition and they just want to sell some papers. That quote may have come from something like that, that often happens. I don't think much of it, there's nothing much you can do about it anyhow. I loved her, I thought she was a wonderful girl.
As far as Dack was concerned I didn't even know he was gay for gods sake, I mean I'm pretty naive about some things. It never occurred to me he was gay.

Larry Hagman - Do you write exactly what I say? Do you edit this?

Interviewer - It depends, we normally write it up as it is

Larry Hagman - So if I say fuck or anything like that do you take it out?

Interviewer - No we leave it in (laughs)

Larry Hagman - ok, fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck, get that out of my system

Interviewer - (Laughs a lot) Ok next question.

Dang from San Fran asks Hi Larry Hagman - How was your relationship with Victoria Principal on the set? Were you sad to see her depart the show at the end of season 9? I personally thought her leaving was a big loss to the show.

Larry Hagman - I loved her , when she first came to the show she didn't have that much experience you know and a television show is like every day and she learned fast and she was very good and I thought she come a long way. She was much more of an equipped actress when she left the show from when she got on there, she was a nice girl. I was sad to see anybody leave, we had a very nice family on that show. I was very sad to see momma go , Victoria and especially Linda. My god that was my wife on the show, in fact my wife calls her wife.

Interviewer - Why did Linda leave?

Larry Hagman - I think she had enough of the drunkenness, they wanted her to go back to being a basket case. I think she felt that our producer Leonard Katzman had some sort of vendetta against her or something, gave her shitty parts and so fourth. She had fought very hard to get a more positive part and she did. I was sorry to see her go and I begged her not to go, on bended knees, literally on bended knees, both knees on the ground - "Please don't leave the show, you are fun to work with, you're my wife". What the fuck - over

Don Wotal in Bessemer, Michigan asks On a recent TV special about Larry Hagman's liver troubles he talked quite candidly about how after his liver transplant it was more difficult for him to quit smoking marijuana than it was to quit drinking. Is this true? Did you smoke marijuana on the set too?

Larry Hagman - No No I never said that, I said it was difficult to stop smoking tobacco. Marijuana you can give up, Iv given it up for fifteen years now and it never occurs to me to smoke it anymore. But there is no withdrawal, but with tobacco there is terrible withdrawal, it is almost impossible for a lot of people. I did , I went cold turkey, they never had any patches in those days but grass was not difficult, alcohol not difficult, but tobacco - oh my god. You couldn't smoke grass on the set of Dallas, I didn't want to do that, I was perfectly satisfied with my champagne.

Carolyn Jankowski in Elizabeth, NJ asks - Dear Mr. Hagman: Words cannot express my admiration for your tremendous acting ability.

Larry Hagman - Woo hoo, keep talking honey

Carolyn - Would you mind letting us in on the acting tips you received from your legendary mother, Miss Mary Martin? Best wishes for good health to you and your family.

Larry Hagman - Its all in the book. She said "Know your lines, hang up your clothes and be reasonably sober"

Pauline in Glasgow, Scotland asks Was there ever a possibility of your mother, the great Mary Martin playing the role of Miss Ellie?

Larry Hagman - There was discussion of it at one time when Barbara left the first time and I thought it would be a good idea but I think mother didn't want to do that just because, for one thing her memory was failing her somewhat. It was a taxing role to be the queen mother of that whole situation.

Interviewer - What was it like working with Barbara Bel Geddes?

Larry Hagman - That's the reason I took the show, they said Barbara Bel Geddes is going to play your mother, and I said "Well that's a touch of class you know", so of course I wanted to work with her. She was the first girl to say 'pregnant' in American theatre and the show was banned in Boston. It was not allowed to perform because she said 'pregnant' and that was in the 50's for god sake and now you can say anything you want"

Interviewer - Are you still in touch with her?

Larry Hagman - No she's a real recluse that girl and its really hard to get hold of her.

SarahB in Ireland asks I met you in Ireland on your book promotion and it was one of the happiest days of my life.

Larry Hagman - Oh (seemed pleased to hear that)

SarahB - You must have met a lot of people in show business over the years - which meeting has been the biggest thrill for you? Many thanks and lots of love.

Larry Hagman - Vivian Leigh, that was very exciting. To be dancing on the opening night of South Pacific at the Savoy in London with Vivian Leigh was a big deal. She was Scarlet O'Hara can you imagine? I danced with Scarlet O'Hara

James Ewing in Hackensack NJ asks - Why do you think CBS was reluctant to continue the saga of Dallas with the young cast members ? It seemed JR Returns was a setup for just that. Then War of the Ewings came & they were no where in sight.The original cast members could be used during sweeps & Larry Hagman & Patrick could Produce & Direct.

Larry Hagman - I guess they felt the bloom was off the rose. I think they could of recast the children, I heard of people wanting to do something like that. That would be a nice little show to do but you know that show was of the 80's, I don't think the audience mind set is in that direction any longer.

Interviewer - But if you look at the mini series that really stands its ground and could work today and could be considering ground breaking such as shows like Six Feet Under

Larry Hagman - Six Feet Under is a whole different league, that show is so much more far advanced than Dallas ever was. Its so kind of real , starch reality, dead bodies, a business dealing with death, its pretty bizarre stuff. I think its brilliant

Interviewer - Many people would say that Dallas was groundbreaking in the same way.

Larry Hagman - I guess it was but I think peoples morality has changed. It's gotten more liberal and more diverse and even in a sense much more fundamental, you take the fundamental religious right in this country, its got to go back about 50 years.

Judy Clark from Delray Bch. Fl asks Have always been an outrageous fan of yours, since the days of Jeanie. Would love to see you round up the Dallas stars, and do another reunion movie. Any possibilities? What could I do to push it along?

Larry Hagman - I think the bloom is off the rose, I don't think anyone would be interested in doing it, the powers that be, the people that put up the ten million bucks, and that's for my salary. (laughs)

Larry Hagman - How will you write that? Chuckle? Its not an L O L

Interviewer - You could do an L O L, see you do more about the internet than you are saying

Larry Hagman - L O L to me is like (Laughs very loudly) and a chuckle is like (laughs quietly)

Interviewer - (laughs) - see you know L O L which is chat rooms lingo

Larry Hagman - Yes its laugh out loud, so what's a snicker and a chuckle?

Interviewer - (laughs) - Mmmm a smiley face

Larry Hagman - So what's a he he he?

Interviewer - (laughs) - Its he he he

Larry Hagman - I'm not well versed on the verbiage of the internet

Interviewer - Well you are doing very well, not many people know what L O L is.

Larry Hagman - Well I don't do an L O L I do a Ha ha ha

Patrick Capp in Texas asks Throughout the years on Dallas, JR Ewing and Cliff Barnes hated each other's guts. How well did you and Mr. Kercheval get along in real life, away from the Dallas set?

Larry Hagman - We got along very well. He was always fun to work with because you never knew what he was going to do from one second to the other. It was always discovery with him, I loved it.

Yvonne in Germany asks Did JR love Sue Ellen?

Larry Hagman - Absolutely, he treated her like shit but he loved her. But a lot of men do that and a lot of women do that to their men too.

Pauline in Scotland asks I have a vast Dallas collection, over 80 000 articles, photos and magazines, and autographs of over 30 members of cast. Do you still have any Dallas memorabilia, and did you take anything from the set on the last day?

Larry Hagman- Yeah but I'm not going to tell you what it was

Interviewer - Oh go on

Larry Hagman- No I stole it

Interviewer - Come on, give us a clue

Larry Hagman - No no no, it was worth a lot of money. But I did buy 200 cases of JR Beer. When it first came out it was about $24.00 a case, and now each can is worth $100 and if I sign it, its worth $150, so that's a good investment. I send those to charities who use them for auctions and the last signed 6 pack I did down in Texas for a hospital fund raiser I got 65 hundred dollars. That's a lot of money so they have served a purpose too.

Mark Arbouine in London asks Last year I watched a Dallas special on TV in the UK during which you were interviewed at your home. I noticed on a wall in the background was the portrait of Jock that appeared in Dallas. Is this painting now yours and how did you acquire it?

Larry Hagman - (coughs) Refer to your earlier question, (laughs loudly), oh god, I knew you would weasel that out of me somehow. That's not an admission of guilt by the way. I don't think.

Jamie in Germany asks I like the characters you played in I dream of Jeanie and Dallas. Which of these did you prefer playing and why?

Larry Hagman- I liked Dallas better because it was more deceptive, you could do more with it. Jeanie was a flat out easy character to play, more like me to tell you the truth, kind of naive and good looking (laughs) and humble, don't forget humble.

Andre in Vancouver asks What was your relationship with Jim Davis like?

Larry Hagman- Jim was a wonderful guy, he never thought he was a very good actor so was a little insecure, which was a really strange thing to have from this really rugged , western, tall, good looking man. He was kind of insecure but he really knew what he was doing, and having fun with it. We really got along very well, he got pissed off with me a few times when I pushed him, when I was directing. I would say "Have more fun with this" and he'd say "Goddamn it I'm doing my whole thing", I said "I know that sir because you are a wonderful artist" But he never really believed that and he didn't take any bullshit either so you had to be careful how you did it.

Andrew also asks and how did his 1981 passing affect you?

Larry Hagman - We were all on hiatus and I was in Scotland, a real fancy smancy hotel in Scotland, and I came down for breakfast and there was a journalist from a local paper, and he said "How do you feel about Mr Davis's death?". We were expecting that, he had a brain tumor and he'd lost all his hair and we had to have a stand in for him to get up from the breakfast table, you know every show we had a breakfast table thing, if he had to leave the table it would be over his shoulder onto his back, the man would get up and then Jim would turn around and you would cut to Jim turning around. It was unfortunate but of course we all gotta go and he had a good life, and went out with bang, a star of the most successful show on the earth.

James in London asks Do you think that it's fair to say that, towards the end of Dallas's run, JR's character had become less formidable and more of a comedy buffoon? Was this a conscious decision, and if so whose and why?

Larry Hagman - I think I tended to do a parody and they were writing him in that direction also. After ten or twelve years you can only play something so long and then you start to parody it. I admit the last couple of years shows were not up to par. At that time I was making the largest salary known on television and I didn't want to see it die because those were the years paying off when I wasn't making anything.

Matthew Patriquin in Hyannis Ma asks Did you ever feel uncomfortable with some of the lines you had? When you called Sue Ellen a loser, when she was really down, was quite crushing, but did it bother you?

Larry Hagman - Oh no no no, that was just part of it all. But some of it was couched in language that was not Texan if you know what I mean, it was more Jewish New York or New Jersey where a lot of these guys were from. So I would change it to the local vernacular because I did know the mind set and I did know the vernacular of the local Texans because I was brought up down there.

Will Rodgers in Tennessee asks - My favorite era of Dallas was the first three seasons when Jock was alive, Bobby and Pam were newlyweds, and you were the most menacing as J.R. What was your favorite era of the show?

Larry Hagman - I think that was probably, the exploratory years, when we were playing with the characters and the writers were playing with the characters. Later on when it became a routine it was not as exciting I'll admit that. The first three years were wonderful, the rest were just money making and having fun.

Steven Matthews in L.A asks - Why did Dallas end? I heard there was a planned 14th season. Is that true?

Larry Hagman - No no (laughs) there wasn't any planned 14th season, we all saw the writing on the wall. The ratings had been going down and so fourth, that curve goes on every show and in everybody's life.

Colby in London asks What did you, and the general Dallas clan, really think of Dynasty

Larry Hagman - I thought it was a good show, I can't speak for the other people, but we didn't not respect it. It was a different show from Dallas, it was much more glitzy. Dallas was more raw and when one producer took over from Mr Katzman he tried to make it like Dynasty and I just rebelled at that. So we did a year kind of like mock Dynasty but we all respected it, it was a fun show too.

Interviewer - The Dynasty season being the dream season?

Larry Hagman - The dream season came up when I got my regular writer and director back , Leonard Katzman and he was the driving force behind the show.

Interviewer - So you were fundamental in getting him back?

Larry Hagman - Oh god yes, I said get him back or that's it. They said "What do you mean that's it?" I said "You guys can figure that out, its either me or this other producer", they said "You don't mean that", "Yeah I do I know its old fashioned and it's star shit but I'm playing the star card now, I want my old producer because it makes me happy and my goal in life is to be happy and rich and Iv archived both of them and I don't want to loose the happiness part of it". They couldn't understand that of course, they couldn't fathom that an actor would want a guy back just because it made him feel good.

Interviewer - But they did it

Larry Hagman - Of course they did , they had no choice. Remember humble and remember humble

Interviewer - (laughs) Yes very humble

Ewing_87 in Hong Kong asks - Were you really the most powerful person on the set of Dallas?

Larry Hagman - Leonard Katzman was the most powerful absolutely. You know the show went to Hong Kong

Interviewer - Linda Gray right?

Larry Hagman - Yes Linda was over there

Wendell in Russia asks I'm a die-hard fan of JR Ewing. What was your wife saying about Dallas and JR?

Larry Hagman - My wife loved it, she said I had finally found the part, my part, the defining part of my personality and vision. Sure enough she was right and she was the one who persuaded me to do it. Now what I would like to know, is Dallas playing in Russia at the moment?

Interviewer - I can find out, I will let you know.

Interviewer - On the web site forum , everyone is discussing your comments about the war, there are 100's of messages. They are all talking about it

Larry Hagman - What do they say?

Interviewer - Most of them seem to be for your comments

Larry Hagman - That's in Germany

Interviewer - No all over, there's a few people who weren't too pleased

Larry Hagman - Do they call me 'mother f**king, penis breath communist'?

Interviewer - No not quite (laughs)

Larry Hagman - That's what I get and I reply "I was never a communist" (Laughs very hard). Laugh out loud, L O L

Interviewer - (laughs) See you do know about the Net

Larry Hagman - Communism has kind of been dead for a few years now. They are in the mind set of that's where their living, back in the Vietnam war I guess. But anyhow my stance is for the troops and I support all our children we send over there but I don't respect people who send them, simple as that.

Interviewer - Its interesting reading the forum, you have provoked so much discussion which is good.

Larry Hagman - I'm sure it is, I'm not for any kind of war, we've been engaged in several wars since the second world war and we lost in Korea, we lost in Vietnam, they are political wars, they have nothing to do with any real threat, nor does this one. It will go down in history as just one of our great great great mistakes but we don't seem to care over here, our leaders don't seem to care, I care and there are millions of other people who care. People can be brainwashed by the Government and I can understand why, the "leaders". Germany had leaders and Russia had leaders, China and certainly Cuba has had leaders who impose their will on logical thinking.

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Sally Hollingsworth in Ipswich ,Suffolk,England asks do you keep in touch with any of the cast member who left before dallas ended officially?

Larry Hagman - Oh yeah. Linda Gray and I see each other probably twice a month for lunch or dinner with my wife and her boyfriend. We travel often together, we went down to Palm Springs this last weekend to kick off a Charity Benefit for Dennis Weaver who we've both worked with before and who is a big television star here. He's going to drive a hydrogen car from Palm Springs to Washington DC in about 14 days and publicize the fact we need alternate energy, Oil is going to run out and very quickly as well.

Pamela in London asks- Can you send all us fans on Ultimate Dallas a message Larry Hagman? We all think you are great and want to wish you all the best.

Larry Hagman - I will give you my personal saying, don't worry, be happy, feel good.

Interviewer - Thanks Larry Hagman and thanks to everyone who sent in questions.

Interview by Colin Hunter

Transcribed by Christina Gioberti

© 2003

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