Harry Morgan of TV comedy 'M*A*S*H' dies, 96

Wed Dec 7, 2011 5:30pm EST
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By Will Dunham

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Prolific character actor Harry Morgan, who appeared in more than 100 films but was best known for television roles including Colonel Sherman Potter in the popular series "M*A*S*H," died on Wednesday at his Los Angeles home, age 96.

His son, producer Christopher Morgan, confirmed the actor's death in an e-mail to Reuters.

Morgan in 1980 won an Emmy award, honoring the best in U.S. TV, for his work on the anti-war comedy series "M*A*S*H" playing the upstanding commanding officer of a U.S. Mobile Army Surgical Hospital during the Korean War. Morgan appeared in "M*A*S*H" from 1975 to 1983.

He also appeared as Officer Bill Gannon on television crime series "Dragnet" from 1967 to 1970, alongside Jack Webb.

Morgan's ability to play a variety of roles, dramatic and comedic, made him an actor in demand for half a century. He starred in about a dozen U.S. TV series starting in the 1950s and appeared in movies with some of Hollywood's biggest stars.

He appeared in "The Ox-Bow Incident" in 1943 with Henry Fonda, "High Noon" in 1952 with Gary Cooper, "The Glenn Miller Story" in 1954 with Jimmy Stewart and "Inherit the Wind" in 1960 with Spencer Tracy.

But it was his role on "M*A*S*H," the long-running series on the CBS network, that earned him his most fame. The series was adapted from the successful 1970 feature film of the same name, presenting an anti-war theme at the same time the United States was extricating itself from the Vietnam War.

Morgan was not one of the original cast members. The series began in 1972 but his first appearance came in a guest-starring role during its third season. He signed on as a full-time cast member in 1975 after actor McLean Stevenson, who had played the fictional unit's commanding officer, left the show.   Continued...