David Ogden Stiers, one of our favourite comic stars of that seminal comedy series M*A*S*H*, has passed away this weekend at 75.
His agent, Mitchell K. Stubbs, tweeted that he died of bladder cancer at his home in Newport, Oregon.
Resident pranksters Hawkeye and Trapper had many roommates over the years, but for us, no one made the show hum better than David’s arrogant surgeon, with a heart of gold, Major Charles Emerson Winchester 111.
The butt of many of his colleagues’ jokes, but always ready with an often wittier comeback, Charles hid a softer, side under that Boston bravado on M*A*S*H*.
Like in the ninth-season episode in which he swallows his pride and attempts to curry favour with a general who can send him back to the comforts of Tokyo — but in the end, when the general asks him to testify unjustly against Margaret Houlihan — Charles declares, “I will not — even for a return to that pearl of the Orient Tokyo — lie to protect you while destroying a friend’s career!”
For his role, David was twice Emmy nominated for outstanding supporting actor in a comedy or variety or music series, in 1981 and 1982, and he earned a third Emmy nomination for his performance in NBC miniseries The First Olympics: Athens 1896 as William Milligan Sloane, the founder of the U.S. Olympic Committee.
Aside from some standout movie roles – John Cusack’s dad in Better off Dead for one – the actor was also much in demand for narration and voiceover work, including Beauty and the Beast in 1991.
He also voiced Dr. Jumba Jookiba, the evil genius who created Stitch, in 2002’s Lilo & Stitch and various spinoffs; once he became part of the Disney family, David went on to do voicework on a large number of movies, made for TV or video content and videogames.
In 2009 he returned to Broadway after an absence of many decades to appear in Irving Berlin’s White Christmas. The following year he appeared in a Shakespeare Centre of Los Angeles production of Much Ado About Nothing.
David had his musical side too, conducting orchestras around the world.
Sadly, it was only in 2009, that the actor felt comfortable enough to reveal publicly that he was gay. He told ABC News at the time that he had hidden his sexuality for a long time because so much of his income had been derived from family-friendly programming, and coming out thus might have had repercussions in the past.