Larry Hagman’s Radicalism


 

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To understand the mostly private political viewpoint of Larry Hagman, a longtime member of the California Peace & Freedom Party, you first have to look at the context of his mother’s career.  Mary Martin won Tony Awards for her Broadway appearances in South Pacific and Sound of Music.  Look at the times and the themes:  an attack on racism where she risked getting blacklisted and an explicitly anti-fascist movie.

The play was based upon James Michener’s Tales of the South Pacific.  Michener was a principled liberal and later served as Bucks County Pennsylvania Chairman of John Kennedy’s presidential campaign in 1960.  When Kennedy won the state, Michener was Secretary to the Pennsylvania College of Electors convention.  When Mary Martin starred in the role of Nellie Forbush in 1949, it was not exactly without controversy, as explained in the Wikipedia Article:

The musical explores the theme of racial prejudice in several ways. Nellie struggles to accept Emile’s mixed-race children. Another American serviceman, Lieutenant Cable, struggles with the prejudice that he would face if he were to marry an Asian woman. His song about this, “You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught”, was criticized as too controversial for the musical stage and called indecent and pro-communist.[7] While the show was on a tour of the Southern United States, lawmakers in Georgia introduced a bill outlawing any entertainment containing “an underlying philosophy inspired by Moscow.”[8] One legislator said that “a song justifying interracial marriage was implicitly a threat to the American way of life.”[8] Rodgers and Hammerstein defended their work strongly. James Michener recalled, “The authors replied stubbornly that this number represented why they had wanted to do this play, and that even if it meant the failure of the production, it was going to stay in.”[8]

Now, here’s the song Wikipedia references, “You’ve got to be carefully taught“–

You’ve got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You’ve got to be taught
From year to year,
It’s got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You’ve got to be carefully taught!

While Larry Hagman appeared in a military uniform in I Dream of Jeannie, he was a member of the Anti-Vietnam War Peace & Freedom Party

Larry Hagman joined many literary and entertainment industry members in joining the Peace & Freedom Party when it qualified for the ballot in 1967 in California.  Amongst others, California PFP members included:

  • Ray Bradbury
  • Jan Michael Vincent
  • John Saxon
  • Wally Cox
  • James Coburn
  • Berton Schneider (Producer of Hearts & Minds)
  • George Clayton Johnson (Screenwriter of the second most “Twilight Zone” series after Rod Serling)
  • Barbara Eden (used to throw Black Panther fundraisers with Larry at her pad)
  • Biff Rose (Comedian)
  • Al Lewis (Grandpa Munster, later Green Party gubernatorial candidate in New York)
  • Jorma Ludwik Kaukonen Jr. (Guitarist of Jefferson Airplane fame)
  • Calypso Joe (former Vaudevillian turned Anti-Vietnam War activist “General Hershey Bar”)

Peace & Freedom Party member Larry Hagman’s J.R. Ewing role ironically spawned “J.R. for President” buttons, bumper stickers, and T-Shirts as though his conservative business tycoon persona was real

Apparently afraid that he could risk blacklisting like his mother while portraying J.R. Ewing in the original Dallas series and basking in the popularity of the role that spawned “J.R. For President” bumper stickers throughout America, Hagman re-registered for a time as a Republican.  Later he re-joined the Peace & Freedom Party with his fame and fortune established to a point where he didn’t have to worry.

Anyway, with his death yesterday, the real Larry Hagman, the lifelong radical, will be missed by me, while others will be missing the J.R. Ewing that he really wasn’t.

About Jan Tucker

The Detectives Diary is an innovative tool combining Private Investigation and Journalism. In 1984, Steve Harvey's Los Angeles Times "Around the Southland" Column entitled Jan Tucker's program of providing low-cost "Opposition Research" services to indigent and working class candidates for public office, "Take Cover: Hired Mudslinger Rides into Town." A 1996 Los Angeles Times article by Henry Chu carried a sub-headline identifying Tucker as a "P.R. Guru." In November 2012, Tucker became Criminal Justice Columnist for Counter Punch Magazine and a commentator for Black Talk Radio. As a private investigator since 1979 and a former First Vice President of Newspaper Guild Local 69, Tucker takes these skills to a new level in the pages of the Detectives Diary with insightful and unique exposures and analysis of history and current events. State Director--California League of Latin American Citizens, Former seven term Chairman of the Board of the California Association of Licensed Investigators, Co-President San Fernando Valley/Northeast Los Angeles Chapter-National Organization for Women, former National Commissioner for Civil Rights-League of United Latin American Citizens, former Second Vice President-Inglewood-South Bay Branch-National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, former founding Vice President-Armenian American Action Committee, former First Vice President, Newspaper Guild Local 69 (AFL-CIO, CLC, CWA), Board member, Alameda Corridor Jobs Coalition, Community Advisory Board member--USC-Keck School of Medicine Alzheimer's Disease Research Project
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