Larry Hagman and Mary Martin: The "Dallas" Apple Didn't Fall Far From the "Peter Pan" Tree For This Famed Mother and Son

Herbie J Pilato

He became a TV superstar with iconic shows like I Dream of Jeannie and Dallas. She became a Broadway star by way of legendary stage performances in South Pacific and Peter Pan. His name was Larry Hagman, and he died in 2012 from complications due to throat cancer. Her name was Mary Martin, and she died from cancer in 1990. As a real-life mother and son, they were two of the entertainment industry's most beloved actors.

A Closer Look at Mary Martin's Life and Career

Mary Martin began her career in show business as a dance instructor. During the Depression, she went to Broadway and became a professional actress. A daughter of Texas, she originally began work as a dance instructor until a local evangelical adherent burned down her studio citing her work as being too sinful for human nature. Coming to New York City, she appeared on Broadway introducing the song "My Heart Belongs to Daddy." She later made a name for herself in several Hollywood musicals during the 1940s and later in her career enjoyed huge success as Peter Pan, which was her favorite role.

Martin wed twice: to Richard Halliday (married from m 1940 - 1973), who doubled as her agent, and Benjamin Hagman (married from 1930 to 1936), with whom she had their son Larry Hagman.

When actress Barbara Bel Geddes left the TV show, Dallas, Martin was offered the role of Miss Ellie, Hagman's TV mother. But she turned it down.

A Closer Look at Larry Hagman's Life and Career

After his parents' divorce, Larry Hagman moved to Los Angeles, California to live with his grandmother. When he was 12, his grandmother died and he moved back to New York to live with his mother, who had remarried and launched a Broadway career.

In the process, Hagman would so launch his own stage career with a few roles in the theatre. He would then serve in the Air Force, and ultimately return to New York City for a series of Broadway and Off-Broadway plays.

Hagman would soon ignite his TV career with various guest star performances on anthology shows like The ALCOA Hour and as a series regular on the daytime soap opera, The Edge of Night.

Then came his historic roles as frazzled Major Anthony Nelson on I Dream of Jeannie in the 1960s, and the dastardly but likable J.R. Ewing on Dallas in the 1970s and 1980s.

Decades later, Hagman would appear in a Dallas reboot, shortly before he passed away.


Like other mother-son actors in Hollywood (Jeannie Cooper and Corbin Bernsen), Mary Martin and Larry Hagman made significant contributions to the entertainment industry.

[Note: Unless otherwise indicated, certain facts and information in this article were resourced from various entertainment news and media outlets including,,,,, and]

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Herbie J Pilato is the author of several books about pop culture including RETRO ACTIVE TELEVISION, THE 12 BEST SECRETS OF CHRISTMAS, MARY: THE MARY TYLER MOORE STORY, TWITCH UPON A STAR, GLAMOUR, GIDGETS AND THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, DASHING, DARING AND DEBONAIR, and NBC & ME: MY LIFE AS A PAGE IN A BOOK, among others. He's also a TV writer/producer, and has worked for Reelz, Bravo, E!, TLC, and hosted THEN AGAIN WITH HERBIE J PILATO, the hit classic TV talk show (which premiered on Amazon Prime in 2019).

Los Angeles, CA

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