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Dallas oil baron turns to solar technology

J.R. Ewing, the Texas oil baron in the long-running television series 'Dallas,' has returned to the tube. But this time he's promoting renewable energy for the US subsidiary of Germany's SolarWorld.

Larry Hagman poses in a SolarWorld advertisment

Larry Hagman says J.R. Ewing has turned his back on oil

Almost two decades after hanging up his trademark 10-gallon hat when the popular TV show Dallas came to an end, American actor Larry Hagman has put it back on to replay his famous role in an advertising campaign by SolarWorld, a German producer of photovoltaic modules

In the TV drama Dallas, Hagman played J.R. Ewing, a character based on the real-life billionaire oilman Ray Lee Hunt. But in the commercial, J.R. has now turned his back on black gold to spend his retirement selling eco-friendly solar panels.

Oil - 'Too dirty'

"In the past, it was always about the oil," Hagman says in a TV commercial unveiled in the United States last week.

A black and white photograph of the Dallas cast

The Dallas drama unfolded between 1978 and 1991

"The oil was flowing and so was the money. Too dirty. I quit it years ago," he grumbles as he walks past a portrait of the young J.R. and a television showing images of an offshore oil rig and blackened waters.

Putting on the famous 10-gallon hat, Hagman walks outside into the bright sunshine and looks up at an array of solar panels on the roof of the house. "But I'm still in the energy business," he says. "There's always a better alternative." And with the trademark J.R. Ewing grin: he adds: "Shine, baby, shine."

'Shine, baby, shine'

In real life, Hagman, 78, now lives in southern California in a home with a rooftop solar system fitted with panels from SolarWorld. The actor also serves on the board of the Solar Electric Light Fund, a nonprofit organization that builds solar systems in poor areas around the world.

In an interview with the New York Times, Hagman said the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico prompted him to bring back the J.R. character.

"With all that oil gushing away in the gulf, I figured it was time to call for a new direction in where we're getting our energy," he said.

He also took a shot at former Alaskan governor Sarah Palin, a big supporter of the oil industry, adding that while the Republican shooting star "is saying 'drill, baby, drill,' I'm saying 'shine, baby, shine.' It's a lot cheaper and cleaner"

Author: John Blau
Editor: Sam Edmonds

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