Dallas watcher or not, it’s safe to say the majority of the world’s adult population would be familiar with JR Ewing: the ten gallon hat-wearing ruthless oil tycoon at the centre of the American prime-time soap which was broadcast around the world from 1978 until 1991. What most people would probably not know is that Larry Hagman – the actor who played JR (as well as the much more benign NASA astronaut Major Anthony Nelson in the 60s US sitcom I dream of Jeanie) and who died last Friday aged 81 – is that in real life, he was a true solar hero.
Keen-eyed American and European television viewers may have noticed that the actor started appearing in ads for SolarWorld (as J.R. Ewing) over the past couple of years, but as this post from Solar Love points out, these ads were not the half of it: Hagman was an outspoken solar supporter, and a solar pioneer.
Says Solar Love: “Hagman installed a 94-kilowatt, $750,000 solar photovoltaic array on his home in Ojai, California, one of the largest in the nation. Reportedly, this cut his electricity bill from $37,000/year to $13/year. (It might sound like Hagman was extravagant with the electricity, which he might have been, but he actually grew a lot of vegetables and had 200 avocado trees on his estate.)”
To add to that, the born and bred Texan was a board member of the Solar Electric Light Fund – a nonprofit that “brings solar systems and internet access to poor people in remote corners of the globe” – and a speaker at solar conferences.
So vale, Larry Hagman. And here is SolarWorld’s tribute to a solar champion:
With deep sadness, SolarWorld mourns the death of Larry Hagman. Hagman was a vocal advocate for solar energy in America and around the globe. Contrary to his popular image as ruthless oil baron J.R. Ewing on TV’s Dallas, Hagman owned one of the biggest private solar energy systems in the United States. He also participated in several philanthropic solar projects, including the electrification of hospitals in earthquake-ravaged Haiti. For SolarWorld, Hagman acted in numerous television advertisements in the US and Europe.
“I have nothing more to do with oil. I am producing my own energy… Solar energy,” Hagman proclaimed in one of the ten television spots he made for SolarWorld in recent years. With the slogan “Shine, Baby, Shine!” Hagman played off the oil industry’s rally call, “Drill, baby, drill,” to promote solar technology.“We are grateful to Larry Hagman for his commitment to building a solar world,” said Kevin Kilkelly, president of SolarWorld Americas in Camarillo, Calif. “His charisma and example encouraged thousands of people to go solar. We will miss him, but we will always remember his talent and his dedication to the promise of solar energy.”