IONA KIRBY

Tributes have been flooding in for the late Larry Hagman after the Dallas star’s death on Friday following complications in his battle with throat cancer.

And now his co-star and close pal Linda Gray has spoken out to pay her respects to her “best friend”.

Gray was at Hagman’s hospital bedside when he passed away in Dallas. He was 81 years old.

Gray, 72, issued a touching statement to People magazine on Saturday. She said: “Larry Hagman was my best friend for 35 years. He was the Pied Piper of life and brought joy to everyone he knew.

“He was creative, generous, funny, loving and talented and I will miss him enormously. He was an original and lived life to the fullest. The world was a brighter place because of Larry.”

The close pair starred together in the original Dallas hit 1978 series before each reprising their roles in the reboot which began airing earlier this year.

Hagman is famed for playing the mischievous JR Ewing, while Gray portrayed his wife Sue Ellen.

Also by Hagman’s bedside when he passed away was fellow Dallas actor Patrick Duffy, who played JR’s brother Bobby.

Jesse Metcalfe joined the cast of Dallas for the 2012 reboot, and also paid tribute to the late star’s talent and vivacity.

He said: “It was truly an honour to share the screen with Mr Larry Hagman. With piercing wit and undeniable charm he brought to life one of the most legendary television characters of all time.

“But to know the man, however briefly, was to know a passion and dedication for life and acting that was profoundly inspirational,” said Metcalfe.

Meanwhile Ken Kercheval, who played Cliff Barnes in the original series, led the Twitter tributes to Hagman.

He tweeted: “A friend and long time partner… the other half… RIP Larry Hagman… your spirit will live long.”

William Shatner also paid tribute with the words: “My thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Larry Hagman. My best, Bill.”

Piers Morgan reached out and posted: “Very sad to hear that Larry Hagman has died. His JR Ewing character was the greatest TV villain of them all. Wonderful actor. #RIP.”

The comedian, Chris Addison, said: “Larry Hagman dead? We’ve fallen for that one before. But just in case, RIP JR.”

Sharon Osbourne said: “So sad to hear about the passing of Larry Hagman. Sending love and respect to his family.”

Hagman was survived by wife Maj, who he married in 1952, and two children, daughter Heidi Kristina and son Preston. In 2008 Maj was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease.

Following his death, the star’s family said in a statement: “Larry was back in his beloved Dallas, re-enacting the iconic role he loved most.” – Daily Mail