The recent death of Dallas star Larry Hagman has brought back memories of the time he and his wife spent a short holiday in West Norfolk.
Mr Hagman – JR Ewing from the television soap – and his wife Maj stayed at the home of a friend, Grenville Dean in Burnham Norton.
Those who knew about his visit were sworn to secrecy including Grenville’s housekeeper and gardener, Myrtle and Stafford Snell. Myrtle said: “We were told not to tell anybody because he didn’t want the press around.”
It was in August 1987 when Hagman was at the height of his popularity as JR, the wheeling-dealing oilman considered by many to be the most notorious villain ever to appear in a television soap.
But Myrtle found him the exact opposite of the on-screen villain he portrayed. She said: “He was a nice man and very courteous.”
He was also a devoted husband. Had he lived another month he and Maj, a Swedish designer, would have been married for 59 years. In Hollywood they were regarded as one of tinsel town’s great love stories.
But he was also a man who liked to sleep in. Madge said of Maj:“She was a lovely lady. She came to me and apologised for making the bed as soon as they got up. She said she hoped I didn’t mind that she’d made it before I could get round to it. She told me, ‘If I didn’t he’ll have got back into it before you get to it’.”
Mr Hagman was a keen non-smoker. “He had given up smoking and he tried to persuade all of us to give up smoking, too. He gave me a neck scarf with ‘No Smoking’ printed on it.”
Myrtle and Stafford now live in Burnham Market, having moved a year ago.
That he successfully spent a secret and quiet time on the edge of Norton marshes is surprising because on one day he went very public by sightseeing at Holkham Hall.
Despite Hagman’s views on smoking, he died of throat cancer last month in the real Dallas in Texas, aged 81. Maj survives him but has Alzheimer’s and is living quietly in California.