RIP Larry Hagman, thank you.
Larry Hagman, according to news reports, has passed away at the age of 81.
The last time I felt the need to write about the passing of a celebrity/actor it was Chad Everett. The passing of Larry Hagman has moved me to do the same.
I was lucky enough to meet Mr. Hagman at the TCM Film Festival this past April. He was in attendance because TCM’s sister network, TNT, was just beginning to air the revival of Dallas.
This meeting was more than just a fan meeting a celebrity to me.
As many of you may know, my parents passed away in March 2011, two days apart. My mom passed on 3/17, and my dad passed on 3/19. I feel like I talk about this fact *all* the time, but truth be told, it was a devastating time period for me and, when it happens, you can’t help the fact that this affects your life in so many different ways. I don’t mention it for sympathy, but just because it’s who I am now, and it’s part of my life. It makes me….me…nowadays.
Mom’s passing was a surprise, and dad’s passing was unexpected, but not surprising — he had end-stage Alzheimer’s, and changes occurred with him at the drop of a hat. Really, it’s a blessing for him, since Alzheimer’s is a most horrific way to go…it robs you of every human dignity you have left. The saving grace of it, I guess, is that you don’t *know* it’s robbing you of every human dignity.
Anyone who knows me (and my family) knows that as an Irishman, we do tend to have a healthy attitude when it comes to death. While we do mourn for our loved ones, we do so with a sense of humor. I will say we had a good time at the wake, loads of laughs, some tears, lots of inappropriate humor, and possibly some adult beverages. :) It doesn’t mean, of course, that we don’t feel sadness or regret. But we do have a good time while we’re doing it. In fact, at the funeral home, I had a sign on my mom’s casket that was a quote from her ‘papers’ that she left us. “No tears, just laughs. I had a wonderful life…” (and we take photos! We’re weird. But how cool is this photo, two shamrocks.)
For the ‘11 TCMFF, which was less than a month after they passed, I think I was still in shock over the whole previous month and what came with it. I had a wonderful time at my first festival. Sad that I couldn’t have shared the experience by telling my mom about it, but I had a great time.
For the ‘12 TCMFF, I had decided to do a few side trips of “bucket list” things that I wanted to do. One of those things was to visit the cul-de-sac where Knots Landing was filmed. I planned on getting a car that Thursday morning (the first day of the festival) and going to the cul-de-sac, (which is located in Grenada Hills), taking a few photos and then relaxing before the red carpet festivities. Knots Landing was a HUGE thing that my mom and I shared, and I know if she could have, she would have LOVED to have gone with me to see the cul-de-sac.
The evening before, I had stopped into Musso and Franks to say hello to a group of people from Facebook attending the festival that had planned a dinner for that night. Who do I see, but Millie Perkins. She played the first Mrs. Sumner (William Devane’s character) in Knots Landing for a multi-episode arc in the 80s. I introduced myself, told her I had been a fan since her Knots Landing days. She got a real kick out of that. She has no idea what meeting her did for me.
Thursday morning, I explained to the valet manager what I wanted to do. He got me a driver, said that he would take care of me. Boy, did he. He was interested in why I was going, he took so many photos for me of me in front of the houses on the street, took special care taking photos of just my arm, on which I was wearing my mom’s bracelet. He kept saying, “No wait. Let me get another.” He told me I could spend as much time as I wanted there. He grabbed me a box of tissues when I became emotional. He took many photos of me in front of the street sign. I was eternally grateful to him for doing something for me that meant so much.
Unbeknownst to me, the DALLAS cast was going to be on the red carpet that evening. Imagine how excited I was to see that they were there. It was almost too much for me. I took loads of photos on the red carpet. I was wearing my mom’s bracelet, and I just kept thinking “It’s a Ewing day!” I was thrilled. Then after the movie, at the Vanity Fair party I saw Larry Hagman and wasn’t about to let the moment pass. I asked him if he wouldn’t mind a picture, and thanked him for all the entertainment he’d given me over the years. He actually said after we had the picture taken, “Ok, darlin’ make sure it’s ok for ya.” I might have swooned, I’m not sure. (It might have been the vodka tonic, but whatever.) My night was complete. Larry Hagman, JR himself, called me darlin’. It was, without a doubt, the perfect ending to a perfect day, filled with Ewings from morning til night.
Imagine my delight when I was glancing at the photos on the TCM website….a photo of the Ewing clan on the red carpet. There, off to the left of the photo, was my arm (and only my arm) sticking out, holding my camera, to take a photo. And it was the arm that I had been wearing my mom’s bracelet on. My mom, in a photo, with honest-to-goodness Ewings. I got so emotional when I saw that. It was perfect.
So thank you, JR, for being deliciously evil, and Mr. Hagman, for being really kind. I feel fortunate I had the chance to tell you that…in person.