As Larry Hagman's death sinks in, people start to reminisce on his life. Most notably, of course, his performances as J.R. Ewing on Dallas mark the most prominent years of his career, but in Romania, he'll be remembered as the man who made capitalism cool, and eventually helped end communism in the region.
"I think we were directly or indirectly responsible for the fall of the [Soviet] empire," Hagman told the Associated Press a decade ago. "They would see the wealthy Ewings and say, 'Hey, we don't have all this stuff.' I think it was good old-fashioned greed that got them to question their authority." This may sound far-fetched, and of course is probably is, but Dallas was one of the last Western shows to be aired under communist rule over in Romania, and was mightily popular in the Eastern block as a result. The then president, Nicolae Ceausescu reportedly believed Dallas highlighted issues with capitalism, and he allowed it to air thinking it would emphasize the advantages to his Stalinist rule. But, ironically, it might have had an opposite effect.
Hagman died on Friday from complications of a recent battle with cancer. He was 81. In the 1980s, Dallas was one of the CBS network's top-rated programmes and was watched by an estimated 300 million people in 57 countries.