Actor Larry Hagman, who for more than a decade played villainous patriarch JR Ewing in the TV soap Dallas, has died at the age of 81, his family said on Saturday.

Hagman, who had suffered from cancer and liver disease, died in hospital in Dallas, Texas, the Dallas Morning News reported.

Linda Gray, a long-time friend who starred alongside him in the TV show, called him her "best friend for 35 years", her agent told the BBC.

hagman

Hagman's death was announced on Saturday

"Larry was back in his beloved Dallas re-enacting the iconic role he loved most," his family said in a statement carried by the Morning News.

"Larry's family and close friends had joined him in Dallas for the Thanksgiving holiday. When he passed, he was surrounded by loved ones. It was a peaceful passing, just as he had wished for. The family requests privacy at this time."

Gray, who played Hagman's on-screen wife, Sue Ellen Ewing, was by his bedside when he died.

In a statement from her agent she said: "Larry Hagman was my best friend for 35 years.

"He was the Pied Piper of life and brought joy to everyone he knew. He was creative, generous, funny, loving and talented and I will miss him enormously.

"He was an original and lived life to the full."

Hagman was born in Fort Worth, Texas on September 21 1931, the son of actress Mary Martin and lawyer Ben Hagman, a biography on his official website said.

While in England with the US Air Force he met and married his wife of almost 60 years, Swedish designer Maj Axelsson. The couple later had two children.

He became a star in 1965 in the TV comedy series I Dream of Jeannie, in which he played an astronaut haunted by the beautiful blonde genie, played by Barbara Eden.

But it was in 1977 when he landed the role of merciless oil magnate JR Ewing, the character at the centre of the show Dallas, that his worldwide fame was cemented.

The series ran for 13 seasons and on November 21, 1980 more than 350 million people tuned in to find out "who shot JR".

Hagman refused to be defined by his most enduring role, acting in films such as Nixon and Primary Colors.

But he also had health problems. In 1992 he was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver and three years later he had a liver transplant.

In October last year he discovered a tumour on his tongue and was diagnosed with cancer, and underwent six weeks of chemotherapy and radiation before it went into remission in March.

Earlier this year he appeared in a new 10-episode series of Dallas, with a second series in production and due to run next year.

Loading Slideshow...
  • Larry Hagman death

    Photo dated 18/11/1980 of Larry Hagman and his mother Mary Martin meeting the Queen Mother, as Larry Hagman has died at the age of 81, his family said today.

  • This Feb. 2, 1979 file photo shows actor Larry Hagman next to a camera on the set of the television series "Dallas." Actor Larry Hagman, who for more than a decade played villainous patriarch JR Ewing in the TV soap Dallas, has died at the age of 81, his family said Saturday Nov. 24, 2012. (AP Photo/George Brich, File)

  • Larry Hagman death

    Photot dated 16/1/85 of Linda Gray (left) and Larry Hagman, who has died at the age of 81, his family said today.

  • Beatrice Lillie Richard Halliday, Mary Martin, Heller Weir, Larry Hagman

    In this Oct. 17, 1963 file photo, Broadway star Mary Martin is congratulated backstage after the opening of her new musical "Jennie" at New York's Majestic Theater. From left are Beatrice Lillie Richard Halliday, husband of Mary Martin, Heller Weir, daughter of Mary Martin, and Martin's son Larry Hagman. Actor Larry Hagman, who for more than a decade played villainous patriarch JR Ewing in the TV soap Dallas, has died at the age of 81, his family said Saturday Nov. 24, 2012. (AP Photo/Ray Howard, File)

  • Larry Hagman death

    Photot dated 17/11/80 of Larry Hagman with his wax portrait at Madame Tussaud's in London, as Larry Hagman has died at the age of 81, his family said today.

  • television show; TV Show

    In this June 4, 1965 file photo, from left, cameraman Sam Rosen and director Gero Nelson guide the co-star of the series "I Dream of Jeannie," Larry Hagman, as he emerges from a mockup of the Apollo space vehicle, filming at North American Aviation's Space Division in Downey, Calif. (AP Photo/File)

  • Larry Hagman death

    Photo dated 21/8/12 of Larry Hagman has died at the age of 81, his family said today.

  • Larry Hagman death

    Photo dated 23/10/01 of Larry Hagman with one of the cast of Bad Girls, as Mr Hagman has died at the age of 81, his family said today.

  • Larry Hagman

    In this Nov. 4, 2011 file photo, actor Larry Hagman pauses during an interview on location during the filming for the upcoming new television show "Dallas" in Dallas. Actor Larry Hagman, who for more than a decade played villainous patriarch JR Ewing in the TV soap Dallas, has died at the age of 81, his family said Saturday Nov. 24, 2012. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez, File)

  • In this Sunday, Feb. 3, 1986 file photo, actress Mary Martin touches the cheek of her son, Larry Hagman, also a famous actor, at the after-theater party for "Legends," a play starring Martin and Carol Channing, at the Music Center in Los Angeles. Actor Larry Hagman, who for more than a decade played villainous patriarch JR Ewing in the TV soap Dallas, has died at the age of 81, his family said Saturday Nov. 24, 2012. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon, File)

  • HAGMAN

    In this Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2003 file photo, actor Larry Hagman sits in front of a poster of himself during a news conference in Berlin during a tour to promote the German translation of his autobiography. Actor Larry Hagman, who for more than a decade played villainous patriarch JR Ewing in the TV soap Dallas, has died at the age of 81, his family said Saturday Nov. 24, 2012. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

  • This 1983 file photo shows actor Larry Hagman, center left, with fellow cast members of the television series "Dallas." Back row from left are Howard Keel, Barbara Bel Geddes, Larry Hagman, Linda Grey, Susan Howard and Steve Kanaly. Front row from left are Priscilla Presley, Victoria Principal and Ken Kercheval. Actor Larry Hagman, who for more than a decade played villainous patriarch JR Ewing in the TV soap Dallas, has died at the age of 81, his family said Saturday Nov. 24, 2012. (AP Photo/CBS, File)

  • Larry Hagman

    This 1981 photo provided by CBS shows Larry Hagman in character as J.R. Ewing in the television series "Dallas." Actor Larry Hagman, who for more than a decade played villainous patriarch JR Ewing in the TV soap Dallas, has died at the age of 81, his family said Saturday Nov. 24, 2012. (AP Photo/CBS, file)

  • Larry Hagman

    In this Thursday, Oct. 9, 2008 photo, actor Larry Hagman listens to a reporter's question while visiting the Southfork Ranch in Parker, Texas, made famous in the television show "Dallas." Actor Larry Hagman, who for more than a decade played villainous patriarch JR Ewing in the TV soap Dallas, has died at the age of 81, his family said Saturday Nov. 24, 2012(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

  • Dallas launch party - London

    Patrick Duffy, Linda Gray and Larry Hagman arrives at the Channel 5 Dallas launch party at Old Billinsgate in London.

  • BRITAIN-US-ENTERTAINMENT-TELEVISION-DALLAS

    US actor Larry Hagman arrives on the red carpet to attend the launch of the new 10-part series of US television show Dallas in London on August 21, 2012. AFP PHOTO / CARL COURT (Photo credit should read CARL COURT/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Television - Larry Hagman "Madame Tussaud's" Photocall - London

    Actor Larry Hagman, who stars on American soap opera "Dallas" as JR Ewing, at Madame Tussaud's in London to view his wax portrait

  • Actor Larry Hagman poses during a press

    Actor Larry Hagman poses during a press preview of the auction of his personal antiques, fine and decorative art, furniture, and memorabilia from the classic 1980's primetime soap opera Dallas on May 24, 2011. The auction sale will be held at Julien's Auctions Gallery in Beverly Hills, California on Saturday, June 4, 2011. Larry Hagman is best known for his role as JR Ewing in the 'Dallas' TV show. AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYS (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Actor Larry Hagman poses during a press

    Actor Larry Hagman poses during a press preview of the auction of his personal antiques, fine and decorative art, furniture, and memorabilia from the classic 1980's primetime soap opera 'Dallas' on May 24, 2011. The auction sale will be held at Julien's Auctions Gallery in Beverly Hills, California on June 4, 2011. Larry Hagman is best known for his role as JR Ewing in the 'Dallas' TV show. AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYS (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)

  • AARP Magazine's "10th Annual Movies For Grownups" Awards Gala - Arrivals

    BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 07: Actor Larry Hagman arrives at the AARP Magazine 10th Annual Movies For Grownups Awards at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on February 7, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

  • 2011 Vienna Opera Ball

    VIENNA, AUSTRIA - MARCH 03: Larry Hagman photographs with his smart phone during the traditional Vienna Opera Ball at the state opera on March 3, 2011 in Vienna, Austria. (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)

  • AARP Magazine's "10th Annual Movies For Grownups" Awards Gala - Arrivals

    BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 07: Actor Larry Hagman arrives at the AARP Magazine 10th Annual Movies For Grownups Awards at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on February 7, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

  • AARP Magazine's "10th Annual Movies For Grownups" Awards Gala - Red Carpet

    BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 07: Actor Larry Hagman arrives at AARP Magazine's '10th Annual Movies For Grownups' Awards Gala at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel on February 7, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

  • US actor Larry Hagman poses during a pho

    US actor Larry Hagman poses during a photocall prior to the closing Ceremony of the 2010 Monte Carlo Television Festival held at Grimaldi Forum on June 10, 2010 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. The Monte Carlo Television Festival held since 1961, aims at encouraging the new art form of television. AFP PHOTO / CHRISTIAN ALMINANA (Photo credit should read CHRISTIAN ALMINANA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Monte Carlo TV Festival - 50th Anniversary Celebration

    MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - JUNE 09: Actor Larry Hagman arrives to attend the 50th Anniversary celebration of the Monte Carlo TV Festival at Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel on June 9, 2010 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

  • US actor Larry Hagman of the TV series "

    US actor Larry Hagman of the TV series 'Dallas' poses during the 2010 Monte Carlo Television Festival held at the Grimaldi Forum on June 8, 2010 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. The Monte Carlo Television Festival held since 1961, aims at encouraging the new art form of television. AFP PHOTO / CHRISTIAN ALMINANA (Photo credit should read CHRISTIAN ALMINANA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • 50th Monte Carlo TV Festival - Day 2

    MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - JUNE 08: Actor Larry Hagman attends an interview during the 50th Monte Carlo TV Festival at Grimaldi Forum on June 8, 2010 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

  • "I Dream Of Jeannie" DVD Launch

    NEW YORK - MARCH 15: Actors Larry Hagman and Barbara Eden attend the 'I Dream of Jeannie' DVD Launch at Barnes & Noble Bookstore on March 15, 2006 in New York City. (Photo by Thos Robinson/Getty Images)

Loading Slideshow...
  • Piers Morgan

    Very sad to hear that Larry Hagman has died. His JR Ewing character was the greatest TV villain of them all. Wonderful actor. #RIP

  • James Hibberd

  • William Shatner

  • Barbara Eden

  • Bobby Rivers

  • Bobby Rivers

  • Chris Cuomo

  • Rick Mercer

  • Michael Ausiello

  • Jian Ghomeshi

  • Lary King