Late last week, the American solar energy industry lost one of its most outspoken — and highly ironic — celebrity boosters in the form of Larry Hagman. In the end, it was complications following throat cancer, not double gunshot wounds inflicted by his disgruntled sister-in-law/mistress, that claimed the life of the veteran actor who played the most loathsome Texas patriarch to ever appear on television. Hagman, a recovered alcoholic and liver transplant recipient, was 81.
Born in Fort Worth to legendary actress Mary Martin (seriously, the best Peter Pan there ever was and ever will be … no offense to Sandy Duncan), Hagman will forever be remembered as J.R. Ewing, the nefarious oil baron he portrayed during the 14-season run of “Dallas” as well as in the recent reboot of the massively popular primetime soap opera. Off-screen, however, Hagman was strictly a renewable energy kind of guy who milked his despicable, black gold-hungry on-screen persona for all it was worth. Case in point: the motto of Hagman’s recently formed charitable foundation is “Evil Does Good.”
Much has been written about Hagman’s non-evil solar energy-pushing activities over the years with the bulk of it focused on “Heaven,” his absolutely ginormous off-the-grid ranch in Ojai, Calif., that reportedly sports the largest residential solar array in the United States. Hagman and his Swedish-born wife, Maj, put the 43-acre spread — a spread complete with a nine-bedroom main house, multiple swimming pools, helipad and avocado orchard — on the market in 2009 for $11 million, an asking price that's been subsequently and dramatically reduced (last I heard, the home was still on the market for $6.495 million). The couple, understandably, wanted to downsize. MNN lifestyle blogger Michael d’Estries has more on the sale of Hagman’s self-sufficient home — and his turn as a commercial spokesperson for SolarWorld, a German photovoltaic manufacturer — in this post from 2010.
As Michael notes, Hagman appeared, donning his signature 10-gallon hat and with his tongue firmly planted in cheek, in the aforementioned ad campaign on the condition that SolarWorld donate photovoltaic panels to the Haiti relief effort following that country’s catastrophic earthquake (Hagman also served on the board of the Solar Electric Light Fund, a nonprofit with the goal of bringing clean, renewable energy to developing areas).
To celebrate the life and good green work of Hagman, I thought it would only be appropriate to take a video tour of his former home of almost 20 years in Ojai. I know that the omnipresent eco-elder statesman Ed Begley Jr. featured the property in an episode of “Living with Ed,” but I can’t seem to find a clip of it online. Instead, I’ve embedded an also insightful CNBC tour of the home from 2007. It's certainly worth a look.
This recent piece published by the Ventura County Star that compiles two separate articles on Hagman's former home is also worth a read, if not for the solar aspect but for details on some of the villa's lavish, not-exactly-sustainable features. You can also take a virtual tour of the property here.
I'll leave you with these words from Hagman himself as found on his official website:
Now, not everyone can put in the gonzo array I did; however, we can all learn from the mistakes of the past and make positive differences right now and for the future. Compact florescent light bulbs in our homes and businesses make a tremendous difference in the amount of energy we all use. Less energy used equals less pollution generated. Learning more about the foods we eat and the fuels we use to power our economy will lead to better health, economically and physically. You’ll love that feeling you get from driving an electric car. We have the power to make changes every day.The only things any of us truly have in this world are the decisions we make. Take some advice from me live a life you love and love the life you live. Become knowledgeable about what changes you can make in your daily lives. Our time is short to make these changes, but I’m heartened by the increased interest these last few years have brought.
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