The much-loved character actor, who was diagnosed with esophageal cancer just one year ago, succumbed to the disease in his Oregon home on Saturday, July 9. He is survived by his fourth wife, Jan, and his son, Kristopher.
Hagen was raised by his ballroom-dancer mother and her family in Chicago, Illinois. He served time in the Navy, earned an international-relations degree, spent a year in law school, and worked as a ballroom dance instructor before he discovered acting in his late 20s. He appeared in several plays before being spotted by a Hollywood agent and given a part on the detective series Dragnet.
Once Hagen broke into the television world, he found regular employment portraying villainous characters on Western TV series such as Bonanza and Laramie and in films such as Shenandoah and The Last Challenge. He finally left the dark side to play Little House's kindly "Doc" Baker--the role for which he is most fondly remembered.
After Hagen left Hollywood in 1992, he returned to his stage roots by appearing in local productions in Southern Oregon. He also found work writing and acting in commercials, performed as a singer in concerts and dinner theaters, and created A Playful Dose of Prairie Wisdom, a one-man show based on his Little House character.