Harry Morgan's Col. Potter was the moral beacon of M*A*S*H. We remember the character actor's greatest role. Originally published on Obit-Mag.com.
, the character actor who played Col. Sherman Potter on the iconic TV series MASH died one year ago today at 96.
In this Sept. 19, 1982 photo, Actor Harry Morgan sits on the set of "M*A*S*H*" in Los Angeles. The Emmy-winning character actor whose portrayal of the fatherly Col. Potter on television's "M*A*S*H" highlighted a show business career that included nine other TV series, 50 films and the Broadway stage, died Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2011. He was 96. (AP Photo/Wally Fong)
As David Bianculli writes on his TV Worth Watching blog: "What a character. What an actor. What a character actor…"
The Los Angeles Times describes the singular impact of Morgan's vast career directly. "Morgan's eight-year run on "MASH," the pinnacle of his seven-decade acting career, began when he was 60 and had already appeared on the Broadway stage, in dozens of television shows and more than 50 films."
But it's Neda Ullaby reporting for NPR that advances the frontline of obituary commentary the farthest. In describing Morgan's great career, she focuses on MASH's cultural import as an anti-war show, and Morgan's character as the mouthpiece for some of the more open-throated denunciation of wartime illogic.
Ullaby quotes one of the most forceful lines that Morgan delivered:
M*A*S*H, a sitcom about an Army medical unit during the Korean War, was one of the best satires on television. As doctors cracked wise, it was often Morgan's character who provided the moral outrage.
"Every month there's a new procedure we have to learn because somebody's come up with an even better way to mutilate the human body," Potter said in one episode. "Tell me this, captain, how the hell am I supposed to keep up with it? If they can invent better ways to kill each other, why can't they invent a way to end this stupid war?"
The final episode of M*A*S*H* is often cited as the most watched scripted television program ever, receiving 125 million viewers in 1983. But the show's cultural impact strikes farther. Revisiting its characters is like revisiting a different time. But maybe not so different.
The Emmy winner talks about his greatest character:
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