Hard-of-hearing JR Ewing walks on Crocs across De Keyserlei (Antwerp)

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Thursday night in the 80s? Then you first looked at Higher lowerthen Panorama and finally Dallas. In America alone, the episode attracted who shot J.R. 100 million viewers. When actor Larry Hagman was in Antwerp, he wanted to make time for a chat with ‘the frut’.

As a reporter for this paper, I met Larry in a hotel lobby next to the Century Center. Hagman was not just in Antwerp. He traveled the world as an advertiser for solar energy. And indeed, he did so with gusto.

“It used to be about oil, but that was so bad for the environment. Today there is a better alternative,” he said. After which he gave an entire speech about a German brand of solar panels. “At my home in California, I installed 530,000 euros worth of solar panels. I supply energy to the entire region,” he said under his indispensable hat.

shouting questions

The interview became unintentionally comical at times. Hagman was already 79 years old at the time, and his hearing had already partially given up. With every question I asked, I had to repeat it because he was so hard of hearing. In the end I was almost shouting the questions, and for a moment I felt like Sue Ellen in front of the cameras of Dallas was yelling at JR Ewing.

About Dallas spoken: In 2010, there were reports that the famous TV series, which originally ran from 1978 to 1991, would return. It was mainly for that reason that I wanted to speak to Larry. As soon as I uttered the word Dallas, Hagman seemed to press a button in his head and transform into the iconic TV character.

“Whether the series will come or not, just depends on me. There are still some details to be discussed,” Larry smiled in the mysterious way I knew him from television. ”Financial details? Of course! Of course I need to see hard dollars first. Then I’ll be happy to draw. But I still like to let them sweat a bit.” Suddenly the shrewd JR Ewing spoke to us.

“What I loved about JR? The attention of the women! And I had power and money. I still have plenty of money, by the way. I just won a lawsuit that made me a fortune. Not only with JR, also with Larry is not to be trifled with,” Hagman chuckled.

No more alcohol

What was striking: during the interview no alcohol was consumed. “It doesn’t really fit my image,” laughed the actor who underwent a liver transplant after drinking five bottles of champagne a day on set for years. “I did that because the drink made acting difficult,” he confided to me. “As a result, I continued to find my job a challenge. Sounds bizarre, but that’s how it was.”

Hagman is the only celebrity I got money from after the interview. That is to say, he handed me a fake note on which he signed. No idea why, suddenly he pulled it out. His own head was even printed on it. The note is still on my desk.

Money notes depicting the actor. © Bert Hulselmans


What I still vividly remember from that afternoon is what happened after the interview. Hagman wore a suit, his famous hat and…. ugly but comfortable Crocs. With good reason, because walking was very difficult. Carefully he took step by step towards the exit. There would be a car with a driver in front of him on De Keyserlei. Because he had already gone shopping in the city, he had to take a lot of shopping bags with him. Hagman promptly shoved them into my hands so that he could shuffle down to the street like an old man in a retirement home.

On the street, the transport turned out to be without a trace. Whereupon Hagman looked around anxiously, as if he thought the passers-by would rush toward him. But the sober Fleming just kept walking. At most, there was sometimes doubt whether it was actually the real JR. But then they saw the Crocs, and walked on. Because now say for yourself; the one and only JR at Crocs on a drizzly November afternoon in Antwerp, that is really unbelievable.