We’ve recently added profiles of Broadway star Mary Martin and her son, Dallas star Larry Hagman. Research on both profiles showed confusing factoids: Martin’s birthdate was variously reported as December 1, 10, or 11, and Hagman’s birth name was widely reported to be “Hageman.”
Religion and Broadway Editor Hans Holznagel went on the case. His report:
“Here are my findings regarding Mary Martin’s birth and Larry Hagman’s name, collected in part from the stacks of the Cleveland Public Library (which likes to call itself ‘The People’s University’).
“You can’t get much more declarative than this sentence on Page 16 of Mary Martin’s 1976 autobiography, My Heart Belongs (William Morrow and Company, Inc.): ‘I was born in Weatherford, Texas, on December 1, 1913.’ When writing the profile I had found December 11 (on sites such as famoustexans.com), Dec. 10 (PBS’s ‘Stars Over Broadway’ site) and Dec. 1 (imdb.com). We still link to some of those, which could leave a reader confused, as it did me.
“As for Hagman, you’ll see his birth name listed as ‘Hageman’ all over the internet — including at imdb, tv.com and Wikipedia. Yet nothing of the kind is mentioned in any of the three books I consulted: his autobiography, Hello Darlin’: Tall (and Absolutely True) Tales About My Life (Simon & Schuster, 2001); the C.C. Risenhoover biography, Larry Hagman (PaperJacks, 1988); and Leon Adams’s Larry Hagman, A Biography (St. Martin’s Press, 1987). The autobiography devotes a half-page to introducing his dad, ‘Ben Hagman,’ whose family was ‘originally from Sweden,’ but mentions no alternate spelling (p. 16).
“Mary Martin has a similar introduction to ‘Benjamin Jackson Hagman’ in her autobiography (p. 34), and even names Ben’s father (Larry’s grandfather) as ‘William Louis Hagman.’ Again, no mention of an ‘e’ in the name in any generation. ‘On September 21, 1931, our son was born,’ writes Mary (p. 39). ‘We christened him Larry Martin Hagman.’
“Seems like sufficient evidence for declaring 1 December as Mary’s birth date and ‘Hagman’ as Larry’s birth name. Unless there’s a Mary-Larry coverup conspiracy going on.”
Case closed! We’re firm on 1 December 1913 and no-e Hagman.