I thought he had survived the cancer, and was doing quite well. He was 81, so at that point it could have just been 'being 81.'
Either way, I think this might just be the first celebrity death that has really been kind of hard. I recall gathering in my friend's basement on a Friday night in 1980 for the momentous show where we found out who shot JR. I think I still have a button that says "I shot JR."
The new series of "Dallas" I really hesitate to call "new." It's just as full of outrageously awesome shenanigans and maneuvering, and what I always loved was Bobby and JR's relationship, how there was much love for each other, but very little trust or respect. A huge chunk of that credit goes to the actors, who are great friends in real life. The new show brought that back, and seemed to be transitioning its focus on their sons, Christopher and John Ross, which could just be one of those rare times that lightning strikes twice. The news this a.m. said they had completed filming a large chunk of the next season (if not all of it), so they have time to transition. I hope they give JR the send-off he deserves.
It's also telling that my first thought wasn't "I need to check the dead pool," which is what USUALLY happens when someone dies.