Larry Hagman asked that his connection to Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, who was later executed, would not be known until his death. Hagman passed away on Friday at age 81, after a battle with liver disease and cancer.
Perhaps Hagman did not realize the brutality under Ceausescu when his wife took a bag of cash from the "loo".
The dictator allowed the actor's world-famous series, "Dallas," to be shown on the air because he believed that it "portrayed capitalism negatively," as reported by the Telegraph. Ceausescu, it seems, believed that a massive poster featuring Hagman's image would "bolster the regime". He, like all good communist leaders, was all about propaganda.
For Hagman to agree to the poster, he accepted "a bag of hard currency," which his wife picked up from a "ladies' loo of a government office". Once Hagman and his wife received the cash, the actor that portrayed JR Ewing said, "We spent it quickly like we did all the money in those days." It would be interesting to find out how much was in that bag. Whatever the amount, it probably could have purchased quite a bit of bread for the people that were subject to brutal rationing, "despite high crop yield and food production".
Reign of Fear
For 24 years, Nicolae Ceausescu led a "reign of fear" where he "suppressed all opposition," using the "brutal secret police, the Securitate, with the largest network of spies and informers in Eastern Europe," as reported by the BBC. The Romanian Worker's Party, formed by combining the Communist Party of Romania and the Romanian Social Democrat Party, was renamed in 1965 to the "Romanian Communist Party" and the country was renamed to the "Socialist Republic of Romania". Progressively sanitizing names is a favorite pastime of communists, it seems.
A fan of Stalin, Ceausescu "encouraged an extreme kind of personality cult among the population," reminiscent of today's cult-like following of the leaders of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the Kim Family. Speaking of progressive name changing; although North Korea is a totalitarian, Stalinist dictatorship, all references to "communism" were systematically removed from it's documents in 2009.
It is difficult to access records from the time of the Communist regime in Romania, as many important documents are still sealed and protected by the army. What is known is that Ceausescu, an ardent atheist, demolished churches, some dating back to the 17th century, as well as "entire neighborhoods", and forced residents into concrete high rises. The Communist leader stated that "any rural settlement of under 2,000 people was not economically viable and that people living in such places should be housed in 'agro-industrial complexes' instead. The Romanians who lost their homes despaired as their culture and history was erased.
By 1984, food rationing was introduced on a wide scale (the government promoted it as "a means to reduce obesity" and "rational eating"). The 1989 Revolution in Romania resulted after years of harsh rationing of fuel and food.
Nicolae Ceausescu was executed, along with his wife, on Christmas Day.
Interestingly, Hagman believed that his show was responsible "directly or indirectly" for the fall of Communism in Romania. Larry Hagman told the Associated Press, "They would see the wealthy Ewings and say, 'Hey, we don't have all this stuff.'" More likely, sir, it was the brutal starving of a population.
Image Source: Vadim Ghirda AP Photo via sacbee