Sunday, March 4, 2018

Godspeed David Ogden Stiers

David Ogden Stiers, best known for playing Major Charles Emerson Winchester III on M*A*S*H, died yesterday, March 3, at the age of 75. The cause was bladder cancer.

David Ogden Stiers was born on October 31 1942 in Peoria, Illinois. When he was a teenager the family moved to Eugene, Oregon. He attended the University of Oregon for a brief time, and then moved to California. There he worked with the Santa Clara Shakespeare Festival. After several years he moved to New York to study acting at Julliard. He provided the voice of the announcer for the film THX 1138 (1971) and appeared in Drive, He Said (1971).  He made his Broadway debut in 1973 in The Three Sisters. In the Seventies he appeared on Broadway in The Beggar's Opera, Measure for Measure, Scapin, Next Time I'll Sing to You, Ulysses in Nighttown, and The Magic Show.

It was in 1977 that Mr. Stiers first appeared as Winchester on M*A*S*H. He played the character until the show ended its run, a whole six seasons. He was nominated twice for Emmys for playing Winchester. Prior to M*A*S*H he had a recurring role on the sitcom Doc. In the Seventies he guest starred on the shows Kojak, Charlie's Angels, Phyllis, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Rhoda, The Tony Randall Show, and The Paper Chase. He appeared in the films Oh, God! (1977), The Cheap Detective (1978), and Magic (1978).

In the Eighties David Ogden Stiers appeared in the mini-series North and South and North and South Book II. He began a long run as District Attorney Michael Reston in the series of Perry Mason television movies. He guest starred on ALF, Matlock, and Wings. He appeared in the movies Harry's War (1981), The Man with One Red Shoe (1985), Creator (1985), Another Woman (1988), and The Accidental Tourist (1988).

In the Nineties he had recurring roles on the TV shows Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place, Love and Money, and Bull (not to be confused with the current CBS series). He guest starred on Star Trek : The Next Generation; Married People, Jack's Place; The Boys Are Back; Cybill; Murder, She Wrote; Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman; Ally McBeal; The Practice; and The Trouble with Normal. He appeared on Broadway as the narrator of Beauty and the Beast. He provided voices for the animated features Beauty and the Beast (1991), Napoleon (1995), Pocahontas (1995), and Everyone Says I Love You (1996).

In the Naughts David Ogden Stiers appeared on Broadway in Irving Berlin's White Christmas. He was a regular on the shows Teacher's Pet and The Dead Zone, and one of the regular voice cast on the animated series Lilo & Stitch: The Series. He guest starred on Arli$$, Touched by an Angel, Frasier, and Stargate: Atlantis. He was a guest voice on the animated series Justice League, House of Mouse, and Justice League Unlimited. He appeared in the movies Curse of the Jade Scorpion (2001), The Majestic (2001), and Not Dead Yet. He provided voices for the animated films Lilo & Stitch (2002) and Hoodwinked! (2005).

In the Teens Mr. Stiers was a regular on The Regular Show. He guest stared on Leverage and Rizzoli & Isles. He provided a voice for the animated film Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil (2011) and he appeared in the film Neil Stryker and the Tyrant of Time (2017).

Quite simply, David Ogden Stiers was a brilliant actor. He will probably always be remembered best as Winchester on M*A*S*H (one of my favourite shows of all time), and he was absolutely wonderful in the role. Major Winchester had an aristocratic demeanour and could come off as a stuffed shirt, but he could trade barbs with Hawkeye and B.J. and ultimately cared about everyone at the 4077th. I don't think anyone could have played Winchester as well as Mr. Stiers did. Of course, he played many other roles than Winchester. I remember him well as District Attorney Michael Reston in the Perry Mason TV movies and Reverend Purdy in The Dead Zone. In movies he played everything from J.W. Harper in Iron Will to the stage magician Volton in Curse of the Jade Scorpion. He was also a great voice actor, providing his voice for many Disney features as well as various animated TV shows. Among his many other talents, David Ogden Stiers also had a great singing voice, which was at times on display both on M*A*S*H and his various Disney movies. David Ogden Stiers might always be best remembered as Winchester, but he did much, much more.

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