Larry Hagman's manager shares details of actor's final days

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by JASON WHITELY

WFAA

Posted on November 28, 2012 at 9:29 AM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 28 at 10:09 AM

DALLAS -- Larry Hagman called the city's new Omni Hotel home while shooting on-location episodes of the TNT drama "Dallas."

"Fans would see us in the elevators and said 'Oh my gosh!' and gush," said John Castonia, Hagman's personal manager.

For nine years, the actor also called Castonia a friend.

"I was there through it all, except the very, very end," he said. "I let the family have their time with him."

Castonia told News 8 that Hagman had an acorn-sized tumor removed from his tongue in 2011. Then, in July 2012, doctors diagnosed Hagman with Myelodysplastic Syndromes, formerly known as pre-leukemia.

The actor took medication, but also tried to beat the cancer by becoming vegetarian with the help of Castonia and his long-time friend and "Dallas" co-star Linda Gray.

Still though, adapting that lifestyle could sometimes be a challenge, Hagman admitted to News 8 in an October interview.

"I'll have a bacon sandwich every now and then," Hagman said six weeks ago, "Everybody looks at me like, 'Larry, how can you do that?!' I say, 'arrr arr arr' [making the motion and noise of eating a sandwich]."

But a week ago, Hagman came down with a low-grade fever inside his suite at the Omni, Castonia said. As a precaution, he went to a local hospital, where doctors confirmed he had leukemia.

"His sense of humor right to the end with the doctors and nurses was just hilarious," Castonia recalled. "The doctors would walk in and say, 'How are you feeling?' and he'd go, 'Wonderful!' But he'd be in great pain."

By Thanksgiving Day, Hagman's body started to shut down, Castonia said. Still, the ailing actor said his goodbyes to co-stars Linda Gray and Patrick Duffy.

"I think he was just ready to go," Castonia continued. "He stopped doing the fight. Said to Linda [Gray] and Patrick [Duffy] his goodbyes and they're like, 'Oh, stop that!' But he knew."

"He never, ever did the Southfork tour," Castonia said. "He really, really wanted to do that with his grandkids and show them what it was like."

They did it on Friday before getting summoned to the hospital.

The 81-year-old actor worked on set up until the week before his death, Castonia said.

Family and friends will say goodbye to Hagman in two memorial services this week - one in Dallas and another in Los Angeles. Both are private and invitation-only, Castonia explained, but he said TNT would share video of the one here in the coming days.

Sources close to the production tell us Larry Hagman had already filmed a number of episodes and will appear in season two of the series. After it debuts next year, the show's writers and producers will consider how to give "J.R. Ewing" the sendoff he deserves.

E-mail jwhitely@wfaa.com

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