Goodbye, Major Nelson; Iconic Television Star, USAF Veteran and Native Texan, Larry Hagman, Dies Peacefully in Dallas Hospital at Age 81

Larry Hagman, a veteran of the US Air Force who served in the UK between 1952-1956, would later go on to portray USAF officer and  astronaut, Major Anthony Nelson in the 1960’s hit comedy, “I Dream of Jeannie.”  (Photo: NBC)

In another of his many portrayals of military figures, Hagman appeared as an Army officer in the 1978 film, Superman. (Photo: Warner Bros.)

American actor and television legend, Larry Hagman, died Friday, November 23, 2012 in a hospital room in Dallas, TX, surrounded by family and friends. According to an AP obituary…

“Larry’s family and closest friends had joined him in Dallas for the Thanksgiving holiday…before he passed away peacefully.”

As many fans will remember, Hagman had had a liver transplant and was struggling with throat cancer. Despite his ongoing health issues, he chose to continue working to the very end. His two most notable roles were as beleaguered astronaut, Major Anthony Nelson on NBC’s I Dream of Jeannie, and later, as iconic, Texas oil man, J.R. Ewing on CBS’s Dallas.

Hagman also had a small role in the 1976 film, “The Eagle Has Landed,” as U.S. Army Colonel Pitts.
(Photo: Lions Gate)

After thinking about it for a while, I remembered that Hagman had also portrayed military characters in film roles as well. The two that I recall the most are his quick, lusty, “About Face!” Army officer in 1978’s Superman, and as a “Colonel Pitts” in the 1976 film, The Eagle Has Landed. Both were minor parts to be sure, but there he was—each a definite Larry Hagman sighting. Woo Hoo!

Bottom Line: I loved everything Larry Hagman did. To me, as a little boy growing up during the 1960s, his portrayal of Major Nelson was one of the first impressions I would have of someone in the military. After a few episodes, I began to realize, “Hey! Look! He’s wearing the same uniform as my Air Force GIjOE. Cool!”

Linda Gray, Hagman’s friend and co-star on Dallas, summed up his unique and varied career well when she said…

“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 fullest.”

Many fans of Larry Hagman have combined GIjOE astronauts with Barbies or other custom “Jeannies” to recreate 1:6 scale scenes remiscent of the hugely popular ’60s sitcom. (Photo:

The GIjOE USAF dress uniform set enables fans to create their own “Captain Nelson” figure. Hagman’s character in the show started out as a captain in Season 1. (Photo: gidefender)


One thought on “Goodbye, Major Nelson; Iconic Television Star, USAF Veteran and Native Texan, Larry Hagman, Dies Peacefully in Dallas Hospital at Age 81

  1. kneonknight says:

    Farewell, Major Nelson. Seems like my childhood is forever receding into untouchable history. At least Jeannie (Barbara Eden) is still with us.

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