You ask the questions: Larry Hagman

(Such as: so, Larry Hagman, what do Texans keep under their hats? And whatever happened to Lucy, the Poison Dwarf from Dallas?)
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The Independent Online

The actor Larry Hagman was born in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1931, the son of Broadway star Mary Martin and a wealthy lawyer. After a stint in the US Air Force, he appeared in a number of Broadway productions before landing a part in the cult television comedy show I Dream of Jeannie. But it was as the scheming ruthless oil baron JR Ewing in the hit TV series Dallas that catapulted him to worldwide fame. The series ran for nearly 20 years and, on 21 November 1985, more than 350 million people tuned in to find out the answer to the question that everyone had been asking all summer: "Who shot JR?"

Hagman has also appeared in a number of feature films, including The Eagle Has Landed, Nixon and Primary Colors.

On 23 August 1995, he underwent a 16-hour liver transplant that saved his life after years of alcohol abuse. He is now a highly active advocate of organ donation.

Larry Hagman has been married for nearly 50 years to his Swedish wife Maj. They have two children and live on a ranch in California.

JR had many classic lines, but which one of them is your own favourite?

Mike Roman, Gloucester

"Once you get rid of integrity, the rest is a piece of cake."

Which members of the Dallas cast do you still keep in touch with? Any plans for a reunion?

S Myers, by e-mail

Patrick Duffy and I go hunting and fishing a lot, and we talk every week: he lives in Oregon and I live in California, so there's about a thousand miles between us. Linda Gray and I and my wife go out for dinner once every couple of weeks. My wife calls her "wife".

What would you say are the characteristics of a typical Texan? And what is your opinion of your fellow Texan George W Bush?

Nikki Shaffer, London

Everybody in Texas now is from places like Chicago and Milwaukee, so it's become very homogenised. But I'd say they're very independent, very right wing and not in favour of too much government – "Don't mess with Texas" is one of their slogans. As for Bush, he's doing the best he can with what he's got to work with. He's not equipped for much but he's surrounded by a lot of good people.

Now that Sue Ellen is taking her clothes off on stage, what is the most interesting thing you can reveal (other than the bullet scars)?

David Hasell, Thames Ditton

I got shot so often, I've never tallied my bullet scars up. I've got two in the stomach, one in the leg and many, many bruises from being hit by Bobbie Ewing and Cliff Barnes. I couldn't wait to see Linda in The Graduate. After more than 20 years, I finally got to see her naked!

The 'Who Shot JR?' episode remains the second-highest-rated TV show in history. What was it like for you?

Sheila Corman, Wiltshire

Overnight it seemed that JR was everywhere and everyone was making a windfall from him except me, so I saw it as my opportunity to renegotiate my contract.

Did you go and see your mother on Broadway? How much did she influence your decision to go into acting?

K Missoni, by e-mail

I saw all of her shows. After my parents divorced I went to live with my grandmother, so I missed out on seeing her movies. But I've caught up now and collect them all. Sure she influenced me; I'm a firm believer in nepotism.

At the height of your Dallas fame, were you inundated with legions of female fans? What was the most extreme thing a fan did to catch your attention?

Jackie Minnell, Cardiff

On one occasion I was having dinner at a very nice hotel in Dallas when out of the corner of my eye I saw this little old lady way down the corridor. She started making her way towards me with the help of her walker and I decided that by the time she reached me I would very graciously give her my autograph. But when she got to me she took her handbag and swung it out wide and hit me hard on the side of the head. "This is for everything you've done to Sue Ellen," she shouted. I think she intended to be jocular but it hit pretty damned hard.

As an ex-member of the US Air Force, what is your opinion of the bombing of Afghanistan?

Carla McAndrew, London

I don't like the bombing because the collateral damage is always terrible. In Vietnam, if we'd have bought a house and a car for every family, it would have been cheaper. What we're going to do is destroy Afghanistan and then have to go right back in there and build it all up again.

How did your liver transplant change your life?

SK Kumar, by e-mail

It made me more compassionate, more loving and more grateful. I was dying; I was given two weeks to live – if it wasn't for that donor, I wouldn't be alive today. I know who my donor is, though you're not supposed to. The National Enquirer monitored the radio frequency of the helicopter that brought me in, discovered who my donor was, interviewed the mother and ran a big piece on it.

Whatever happened to Lucy, the Poison Dwarf from Dallas?

C Pinsett, by e-mail

I saw the little beauty the other day; she came to my 70th birthday. She brought her daughter with her who is, I think, 14-years old, and already towers over her.

Many would argue that the cast of Dallas was responsible for ensuring the Eighties hit a new low in the style stakes. How do you plead?

Eileen Halliday, London

Well, it was all very popular in the US. I guess it's just a matter of taste. They sold an awful lot of clothes to the US public that looked like they could have come from the Dallas costume department.

You have been married for nearly 50 years. What is your secret?

S O'Connor, by e-mail

Two bathrooms.

What do you keep under your hat?

Mitchell Forbes, Brighton

What little brains I've got left. I collect hats, but my wife keeps putting them somewhere. I haven't really got a clue how many I have in total but, off hand, I'd say it must be about 400.

Did you get the part of JR Ewing as a result of playing a similar character in Stardust?

Mark Taylor, Sydenham

Yes, JR was a kick-off for that character. I couldn't have been more ready to step into his boots. I grew up in Texas and knew all the boys, I knew the vernacular and I knew people who really were like JR. He was a great character to play because he just had everything – all the toys, the good-looking women, the cars and houses. I based it on a guy I worked with when I was about 15. He was a man called Jess Hall Jr, whom I worked for making parts which fit around the castings of oil wells. It was soul-destroying work, and my father worked for him, too. He doesn't know, but I wrote it in my book. I hope he doesn't sue.

What next for Larry Hagman?

Barbara Whittle, by e-mail

I'm working a lot with organ donation charities and the 12-step rehabilitation programme. That's quite enough to keep me busy. I'm not doing any acting now. I'm not retired, I'm just another out-of-work actor.

'Hello Darlin': Tall and Absolutely True Tales About my Life' by Larry Hagman is published by Simon & Schuster, £17.99

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