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Larry Hagman, who played the iconic role of J.R. Ewing on the classic CBS television series, “Dallas,”  has died after a brave battle with cancer, reports The Dallas News. He was 81 years old.

Hagman’s role as the wealthy, amoral J.R. Ewing defined the pop culture landscape of the 1980’s. With over 350 million people tuning in on November 21, 1980 to find out the answer, “Who shot J.R?” remains the defining  question of a generation, even mentioned in political stump speeches as contenders tried to woo Texans.

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As Hagman wrote in his memoir, “Hello Darlin’,” “Ronald Reagan was campaigning against Jimmy Carter, American hostages were being held in Iran, Polish shipyard workers were on strike, and all anyone wanted to know was, who shot J.R.?”

Who Shot J.R.?

Hagman’s family issued the following statement:

“Larry was back in his beloved Dallas re-enacting the iconic role he loved most,” his family said in a written statement. “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.”

TNT, the network bringing “Dallas” back to the small screen, issued the following statement:

“All of us at TNT are deeply saddened at the news of Larry Hagman’s passing,” the cable network said. “He was a wonderful human being and an extremely gifted actor. We will be forever thankful that a whole new generation of people got to know and appreciate Larry through his performance as J.R. Ewing.”

Twitter has responded quickly to the news, with grieving fans leaving their condolences:

The Best of J.R. Ewing:

Hagman first became a household name in 1965 playing the role of Major Tony Nelson on another wildly popular series, “I Dream Of Jeannie.”

He is survived by his wife 59 years, Maj Axelsson, daughter, Kristina Hagman; a son, Preston Hagman; and five granddaughters.