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September 10, 2019

Inside the Complicated Relationship between Late Larry Hagman and His Daughter Kristina

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Larry Hagman's daughter loved her dad even if he was rarely sober around her. In her eyes, she believed he was "really good at coping." 

Larry Hagman's early life 

Larry Hagman was born in Fort Worth, Texas on September 21, 1931. His parents split up when he was just five years old, and he left behind his attorney father. 

Hagman stayed with his grandmother for a while as his mother, an actress, got a gig with Paramount pictures. Sometimes, she took her son to see her movies. 

Through his mom Mary Martin, Hagman had two sisters. Mary got married to Richard Halliday in 1940 and in 1941 they welcomed daughter, Heller.

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Larry Hagman, former "I Dream of Jeanie" and "Dallas" star on stage | Photo: Getty Images

He discovered drinking and acting both at a young age

A young Hagman would attend the Black Fox Military Institute under his grandmother's care. When she died, he moved in with his mother and then went to a boarding school. 

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Hagman began drinking at just 14. He also worked from a young age. His father's friend employed him as a ranch hand for a while before Larry went to Weatherford High School. 

There, Hagman took up drama classes and tapped into his love of acting. After completing school, he was able to gain experience as a production assistant in theatres.

Larry Hagman on set of the 70s sitcom "Dallas" | Photo: Getty Images

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He went from musicals to the military

He went to Bard College, but during the breaks, he would have small parts in shows and musicals including "South Pacific" which he did with his mother. 

For a while, he worked as an entertainer in the military before returning to New York and getting back to his career. Although Hagman was young, his mother's appearance in "Peter Pan" way overshadowed his come-up.

However, when he landed the part as Major Anython Nelson in "I Dream of Jeannie,", things quickly took off. Unfortunately, the actor was still plagued by a drinking problem at the time. 

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He risked his career for his addiction

In fact, producers strongly considered kicking him off the show due to his unreliability. Co-star Barbara Eden somehow convinced them to keep him on as she felt he was best-suited for the comedic part he played. 

Hagman was married in 1954 to Swiss Maj Axelsson when he got his career off the ground. Their daughter Heidi Kristina was born in 1958 and their son Preston in 1962.

In his early career, Hagman reportedly used marijuana at one point as an alternative to drinking alcohol. Jack Nicholson introduced him to it. Peter Fonda also had him do LSD in 1967. 

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He made his mark on "Dallas"

"I Dream of Jeannie" went on for five seasons over five years. Afterward, Hagman appeared in numerous films and guest-starred in several shows. His second big break came in the 1980s soap opera "Dallas." 

Hagman perfectly played the role of J. R. Ewing, the bad guy whom everybody despised. He was nominated twice in 1980 and 1981 for his portrayal of the despised businessman. 

Sadly, Hagman's work could not be followed up. In the late 80s, he developed cirrhosis of the liver and underwent surgery in 1995 for a liver transplant.

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His daughter wrote a book about his life

He managed to appear in other shows including 1997's "Orleans" for a few episodes. Unfortunately, at 81 he passed away in November 2012 due to complications from acute myeloid leukemia.

His wife died four years later. Following their death, Kristina released a book titled: "The Eternal Party: Understanding My Dad, Larry Hagman, the TV Star America Loved to Hate." 

One person's review of the book revealed that the details Kristina shared may be questionable due to how invasive they were. She openly spoke about her father's substance abuse as well as his alleged mistresses.

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Kristina Hagman, daughter of the late "Dallas" star Larry Hagman | Photo: Getty images

She disclosed their sometimes unfortunate living situation

Furthermore, she shared details about her parent's relationship which, of course, only Larry and his wife could confirm that they wanted the world to know. 

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In addition to the more controversial topics, Hagman also reportedly revealed that her family had to stay in homes of her father's friends when things hadn't yet taken off in his career. 

David Wayne was allegedly one such actor who allowed the family to stay under their roof. Arguably, Kristina did not share such stories in any offensive manner. 

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She accepted his faults later on in life

In fact, the reviewer claims that throughout, the daughter of Hagman exuded love and admiration for her father. No child fully understands their parents' decisions, but at some point, we realize they're human and make mistakes too. 

An interview Kristina did to promote her book also reflected her forgiving attitude towards her late father. "He started drinking at a very young age, so he was really good at coping," she said.

Speaking to Fox News, she admitted that she had been "severe" with her father for his use of alcohol and marijuana. So much so, she tried the substance herself — it wasn't for her.

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Even his reportedly unfaithful and irresponsible ways 

In the interview, Kristina shared that her father had several affairs while married. Furthermore, she herself was a victim of sexual assault by some teenage boys whom her father left her with. 

Larry Hagman and his wife Mag Hagman | Photo: Getty Images

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In retrospect, Kristina decided that her father was "80 percent fantastic — wonderful, sweet, loving." However, she acknowledged that there's a "little boy that's inside every man." 

The one inside her father "was really hurt." She added: "In doing the book I kind of became a lot more sensitive to why he drank so much and did so much pot." 

Her awareness made her forgiving of her father's actions, and no doubt will help her be a better parent to her own kids. Now 61, Kristina's maturity is reflected in such maturity and deep wisdom.

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