Television actor Larry Hagman, best known for his portrayal of the conniving oilman J.R. Ewing on the show 'Dallas,' died on Friday at the age of 81.

Hagman had been battling throat cancer since at least October of 2011, when he also announced he would be taking part in TNT's current 'Dallas' reboot.

He died at Medical City in Dallas.

Before Hagman became America's favorite villain – and the most highly-paid actor on TV – he starred in the kooky 60s sitcom 'I Dream of Jeannie' as an astronaut who falls in love with a genie. But it was his role as Ewing, which he took on in 1978, that cemented his name in popular culture.

A 1980 season-ending episode of 'Dallas,' in which Hagman's villainous Ewing was shot by a mysterious assailant, launched the phrase 'Who shot J.R.?' and a cultural frenzy. The episode that resolved the plot was the highest-rated prime-time program of its time.

At its height, 'Dallas' was the most-popular show in the world, reaching, according to the Dallas Morning News, about 300 million people.

"Larry was back in his beloved Dallas re-enacting the iconic role he loved most," Hagman's family said in a statement. "When he passed, he was surrounded by loved ones."

[Dallas Morning News]