Who Snubbed J.R.? Emmy, That’s Who

Dallas, Larry Hagman, J.R. Ewing, TNT, Venomous Creatures

Give the devil his due

Emmy has always been one of the few gals capable of resisting J.R.’s charms, so it should come as no surprise to learn Larry Hagman won’t be honored with a special tribute during this year’s ceremony. And yet it does. I’m shocked, actually.

I figured if anyone would receive extra recognition during the Emmy broadcast’s traditional “In Memoriam” segment, it would be Hagman. His death last fall ended a five-decade television career that includes two of the medium’s most enduring franchises, “Dallas” and “I Dream of Jeannie,” and one of pop culture’s defining moments: the “Who Shot J.R.?” phenomenon.

But I was wrong. Yesterday, the producers of this year’s Emmy show, which CBS will air Sunday, announced they’ll highlight four performers during the memorial segment — James Gandolfini, Cory Monteith, Jean Stapleton and Jonathan Winters — along with Gary David Goldberg, who created and produced “Family Ties.”

I have no problem with these five people receiving special treatment. I’ve enjoyed their work. But why couldn’t Hagman be honored too? Presumably, he’ll be included in a clip reel of other notable deaths from the past year — but that’s not enough. He deserves much more.

This wouldn’t be so galling if it wasn’t part of an unfortunate pattern with the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, which seems to go out of its way to ignore Hagman. He was nominated twice for his role as J.R. during the 1980s, losing both times. This year, Hagman was a contender for a supporting actor nomination for his work on TNT’s “Dallas” revival, but he failed to make the cut.

And now Emmy has snubbed him again.

I’ve written before about how much Hagman has meant to me, but that’s not what this is about. I don’t need to see him win a trophy or receive an awards show tribute to validate my affection for him.

No, this is about what Hagman has meant to television. When J.R. Ewing entered our living rooms in 1978, prime-time dramas were populated with characters like Kojak, Quincy and Pa Ingalls. J.R. was unlike anyone we had encountered before, and Hagman did a masterful job capturing all of the character’s complexities and contradictions. His performance taught the industry that the good guys needn’t always win, that audiences could find immense satisfaction in stories about humanity’s darker impulses.

So isn’t it a shame that on the night the industry comes together to celebrate its achievements, Hagman’s contributions will probably be reduced to a few seconds during a clip reel?

Earlier this week, as I watched the latest episode of “Breaking Bad” — as thrilling an hour of television as any I’ve witnessed — I thought: This is “Dallas’s” legacy. I’m not suggesting J.R. ever came close to being as monstrous as Walter White. J.R. was a scoundrel; Walt is a sociopath. But do you doubt for a minute that Walt would exist if J.R. hadn’t come first?

From what I’ve read, Hagman wasn’t much bothered by the fact that he never won an Emmy. But I am, and so I hope the academy’s bigwigs will change their minds and add a special tribute to him during the Emmy show. For that matter, I also hope they’ll induct Hagman into the academy’s Hall of Fame next year.

I mean, come on. Isn’t it time for Emmy to finally give J.R. a shot?

Do you feel Larry Hagman deserves Emmy recognition? Share your comments below and read more opinions from Dallas Decoder.


  1. I’ve completely stopped watching or paying attention to any kind of awards show years ago because of the multitude of snubs out there.
    My favorite example is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Look at the list of groups there many of which in my mind have nothing to do with rock: Abba (I’d never classify them as rock but rather Pop), Earth, Wind & Fire (again: rock, really? I’d call them R&B, funk, and even some disco with a touch of jazz but rock?) and James Brown (Whom I love but he’s Soul not Rock). For years Ozzy Osbourn said he doesn’t even want a nomination because the Rock Hall of Fame isn’t purely rock. Of course he was later inducted as a part of Black Sabbath but that’s a different story.
    So yeah, these Halls and Awards are a shame it it doesn’t bother me in the least if my favorites are never named.

    • You make a good point, Dan. Many beloved TV icons never won Emmys, and that certainly doesn’t diminish my feeling toward them. Larry Hagman is in pretty good company.

  2. Jennifer Irons says:

    Chris B, you make an excellent point! For me it is not so much about the award itself as it is about the fact that Larry was an icon and legend in television for 50 years and should have been recognized for his contributions to tv and the popularity of both “Dallas” and “I Dream of Jeannie”. Dallas would not have been the same without Larry and JR!

  3. There’s no way the Emmy committee will reverse their decision. I hope I am proved quite wrong, but they have ignored the show Castle (which, ironically, also airs on TNT in reruns) six ways to Sunday: They have ignored serious God-given talent (wherein I hope they cast Linda Gray and Stana Katic together in some movie or TV show as mother and daughter), they have ignored the snappy writing and dialogue, they have ignored the acting ability of the entire ensemble cast, and they have ignored the things that make that show great. Which doesn’t bode well at all for Dallas (and Larry Hagman besides) to get some well-deserved recognition and appreciation by their peers.

    • Jennifer Irons says:

      I totally agree with you, BJ! Of course, Dallas never got recognized(except for an Emmy for Barbara Bel Geddes) with any awards in its CBS incarnation either! So not a complete shock for me! But still very upsetting!

  4. emmy’s (if i can judge by list of winners) have always been kingdom of snobism, like the Oscars and all those fucking ceremonies

    of course, I would have likee larry hagman be honored, but frankly, those awards (how many awards in movies/tv ??) are pure incestual bullshits.

    Who remember the winners of the 2003’s emmies ? Nobody !

    Who will remember Larry Hagman in 2023 ? Millions of people !

  5. Your god damned rights Hagman deserves an Emmy! Brother J. R. was the man!

  6. Kyle Willson says:

    Chris, I gotta say, I usually agree with your well written pieces anyway, but even more so on this topic.
    It’s no secret that I also share the affection for our favourite scoundrel..the character, the story arcs and most importantly the man who brought them to life.
    It’s bad enough when certain deserving stars, for whatever varied reasons (excuses) get passed over very undeservingly (I hope that’s a word) for Emmy or Oscar love until they pass on…it’s even worse when they STILL get over looked or shunned when they no longer have an opportunity to even accept the award in the flesh.
    If I was a part of the Hagman clan I would be shrugging my shoulders and asking “What’s it gonna take??”
    If Urkel gets honored before Larry, I will officially lose all hope in TV Karma.
    Wake up Emmy!!!!

  7. If they do not mention Larry Hagman, they can go to hell.

  8. Chris, while I agree with you totally, I can’t say I’m surprised. As a Brit, I’m not an expert on the Emmys but didn’t they give awards back in the 1980s to Dallas’ pisspoor “rival” Dynasty ( or Dysentery to give it’s more appropriate UK nickname )?
    If the US is anything like the UK, the critics/opinion formers either couldn’t stand Dallas/ignored it or took the piss out of it!
    I think while some shows are either ridiculously over-praised ( eg. Madmen ) and others are so bad they have an ironic/camp following ( Dynasty ) Dallas just fell between these two stools.
    All I can say is, us Dallas fans know how good the show was, who needs Awards!

  9. I agree that it was a disgrace that Hagman was never honored in any way for his monumental contributions to television history. I bought every Dallas DVD boxed set of the entire series in the decade prior to his death, and have recently to my utter delight, rediscovered the popular appeal of the despicable, yet charming, and never boring John Ross Ewing, t.v.’s greatest ever villain, bar none. Has anyone ever noticed that the initials and nickname of J.R. may have been inspired by the Jett Rink character played by the late great James Dean in the 1956 movie classic Giant?
    I also loved the characters Bobby and Pam (Patrick Duffy and Victoria Principal) who were perfect foils for J.R.’s ruthless cunning. It always helps when there are good couples such as Blake and Crystal Carrington (John Forsythe and Linda Evans on Dynasty) and Maggie and Chase Gioberti (Susan Sullivan and Robert Foxworth on Falconcrest) to resist the power struggles of the bad apples on each series, although the Matriarch Angela Channing (played by President Ronald Reagan’s first wife Oscar winner Jane Wyman on Falconcrest) and the truly horrid Alexis Carrington (played by the fabulous Joan Collins of Dynasty) were nearly as equally treacherous as ole J.R. Of the four prime time soap operas of the eighties: Dynasty, Dallas (which premiered first in 1978), Falconcrest, and Knots Landing (the Dallas spin-off), Dallas remains my favorite. Larry Hagman was truly a breed apart, as was J.R. Ewing.


  1. […] all disappointed Mr. Hagman will be excluded from the special tributes during CBS’s Primetime Emmys broadcast on Sunday, but I encourage everyone to keep their messages […]

  2. […] Hagman, Larry’s son, tells “Entertainment Tonight” he isn’t angry that his father was snubbed during the recent Primetime Emmy tributes: “I think my dad was a trailblazer in the industry to […]

  3. […] come first. What a shame so many TV critics neglect to mention that. Even more shameful: Hagman’s omission from the special tributes during this year’s Emmy broadcast and his snub in the dramatic […]

  4. […] him in 2014 might have helped make amends with fans who were justifiably outraged when the academy excluded him from the special tributes during this year’s Primetime Emmys […]

  5. […] a handful of nominations during its heyday. The tradition continued last year, when the academy snubbed Larry Hagman in the supporting actor race and shamefully omitted him from the special tributes during the Emmy […]

  6. […] Last year, Larry Hagman was snubbed for a posthumous supporting actor nomination; producers also shamefully excluded Hagman from the special “in memoriam” tributes during the Emmy […]

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