Actor Harry Morgan, who played Colonel Sherman Potter on the TV series M*A*S*H, has died after a bout with pneumonia. He was 96.
Harry Morgan had a long career in Hollywood, but it’s his television roles that made him famous. Between 1967 and 1970 he played Officer Bill Gannon on the series Dragnet, the no-nonsense cop show by Jack Webb. Morgan offered whatever lightness there was to be had to that show as the foil to Webb’s Sgt. Joe Friday.
Taking on the role of Col. Potter in M*A*S*H was a tall order at the time. The show was in its fourth season, and the very popular character Morgan had to replace had been killed off the previous season in a surprise shocker (Lt. Col. Henry Blake, played by McLean Stevenson).
Morgan and his character fit right in and he stayed with the show up through its final (11th) season. Here’s a video clip of Alan Alda talking about working with Harry Morgan on the show. Alda says Morgan kept them laughing.
Obituaries for Harry Morgan say the same thing, that he was funny. Here’s the New York Times obituary, and here’s the Washington Post obituary.
Harry must have had a bit of the dark side, too. Back when he was 81 years old he got in trouble with the law for beating up his wife of ten years, 70 year old Barbara Morgan. His case was dismissed after he went through a six-month violence counseling program.
Here is a video of a guy drawing a darn good likeness of Harry Morgan.