All in the Family: Larry Hagman and Mary Martin


Mother and Son, “Maria Von Trapp” and “Major Anthony Nelson”… 

The legendary Mary Martin, famous for originating the roles of Maria Von Trapp, Nellie Forbush and Peter Pan on Broadway, is mother of Classic TV star, Larry Hagman known for his television roles as the lovable Major Nelson and the not-so-lovable JR Ewing!

Mother and Son Mary Martin and Larry HagmanMother and Son Mary Martin and Larry Hagman

America’s favorite leading lady of musical comedy, Mary Martin originated the Broadway roles of Ensign Nellie Forbush in South Pacific (1949-1954), the title role in Peter Pan (1954-1955), and Maria von Trapp in The Sound of Music (1959-1963). Her big break came in 1938 when she auditioned for the supporting role as Dolly Winslow in the Cole Porter Broadway show Leave It To Me. At the audition, Martin announced that she was going to sing four songs, adding “If I can’t sing all four, I’d rather not sing.” A man replied mildly, ‘Carry on…’ She hadn’t realized it at the time, but that man was Cole Porter himself! Porter and his collaborators were immediately captivated, and Martin was signed. She became ‘an overnight success’ on Broadway on November 9 1938, appearing shortly thereafter on the cover of Life Magazine (December 19, 1938 issue).

overnight Broadway success Mary Martin appears on the cover of Life Magazine on Dec 19, 1938Overnight success Mary Martin appeared on the cover of Life Magazine Dec 19, 1938

Mary Martin as Peter Pan in Peter Pan, Nellie Forbush in South Pacific,  and Maria Von Trapp in The Sound of MusicMary Martin as Peter Pan, Nellie Forbush, and Maria Von Trapp


Larry Hagman did his share of off-Broadway, Broadway/London stage, and television acting before his feature film debut in 1964 as ‘Billings’ in Ensign Pulver, followed by his role as ‘Buck’ in Fail-Safe later that same year. But his big break came on television in 1965 when he was cast as Major Anthony Nelson on the hit sitcom, I Dream of Jeannie, opposite Barbara Eden. He would later find extreme television success again in 1978 playing the villainous oil baron, JR Ewing in the mega-hit (understatement) TV series, Dallas.

Larry Hagman in his two most famous roles, as Major Nelson in I Dream of Jeannie, and as JR Ewing in DallasLarry Hagman as Major Nelson and as JR Ewing

larry hagman and mary martin, south pacificLarry Hagman with mother Mary Martin. Note: although I am not 100% sure, I would say that this photo was taken during the London stage production of South Pacific (1951) in which Larry appeared in the role as a ‘Seabee.’


larry hagman and mother mary martin, yes even JR loves his mother!Yes, even JR loves his mother! 🙂


–Annmarie Gatti for Classic Movie Hub

This entry was posted in All in the Family (Family Connections), Posts by Annmarie Gatti and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to All in the Family: Larry Hagman and Mary Martin

  1. Mary Alletto says:

    Love this relationship. A bond between a mother and her son is forever. RIP both of them. They are together I am sure.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.