Thursday, December 08, 2011

Godspeed, 'Colonel'

The 4077th has lost one of its most beloved alumni.

Harry Morgan, the actor who will forever be known to me and thousands of other "M*A*S*H" fans as Col. Sherman T. Potter, passed away yesterday. He was 96.

Here is The New York Times obituary.

Morgan had been in a ton of movies and co-starred in at least two TV series (one being the revived late '60s version of "Dragnet") before being signed to play Potter after McLean Stevenson left "M*A*S*H"in 1975. Morgan had played a crazy general on the series the previous season and had left an impression on the cast and crew.

He later called Potter "the best part I ever had," winning an Emmy in 1980.

I'm one of the few people who actually prefer the later episodes of "M*A*S*H." Morgan is a big reason why. As much as I loved Stevenson's Col. Henry Blake, Morgan's Potter was wise, sardonic, amusing, sentimental -- everything you'd want in a CO. He loved his Zane Gray westerns, his horse Sophie and his wife, Mildred.

When he first got to Hollywood, he was known as Henry Morgan, but wisely changed his first name to avoid confusion with the jackass TV personality Henry Morgan. I can remember seeing him in one of my favorite westerns, the chilling mob psychology drama "The Ox-Bow Incident." Later, he had a colorful role in John Wayne's last film, "The Shootist."

I can still picture him as Col. Potter, riding off from the Korean War on Sophie, after sharing one final goodbye with Alan Alda and Mike Farrell. Loretta Swit's Margaret Houlihan called him a "dear, sweet man" and he was.

You'll be missed, "Colonel." Godspeed.

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Blogger Chuck said...

The first three years of M*A*S*H were pure slapstick comedy and then the series evolved into a marvelous dramatic series with well written and well delivered humor. COL Sherman T. Potter had a large role in that transformation. We will be missed, but his legacy will last many more years on TVLand. We keep a backlog of ten M*A*S*H episodes on our TiVo to help us through those frequent bouts of 1:00 a.m. insomnia. Watching a M*A*S*H episode is akin to short chat with an old friend. We know all the stories and many of the lines, but the warmth of M*A*S*H gives us solace.

11:56 AM  

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