Tuesday, 6 March 2018
David Ogden Stiers RIP
David Ogden Stiers, Major Charles Emerson Winchester III on ‘M*A*S*H,’ Dies at 75
The New York Times
David Ogden Stiers, the tall, balding, baritone-voiced actor who brought articulate, somewhat snobbish comic dignity to six seasons of the acclaimed television series “M*A*S*H,” died on Saturday at his home in
a small coastal city southwest of Newport, Ore. Salem.
He was 75.
His death was announced on Twitter by his agent, Mitchell K. Stubbs, who said the cause was bladder cancer.
Mr. Stiers joined the cast of “M*A*S*H” in 1977, when Larry Linville, who had played the pompous and inept Maj. Frank Burns, left the show. The series, a comedy-drama set in a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital during the Korean War, required a foil for its raucous, irreverent, martini-guzzling leads, Hawkeye Pierce (Alan Alda) and B.J. Hunnicutt (Mike Farrell), and Mr. Stiers’s imperious Maj. Charles Emerson Winchester
to fit the bill.
From the beginning, Mr. Stiers said, he felt confident about playing
Winchester. “It’s just a
matter of isolating the traits” from others in his own personality, he told The
Salt Lake Tribune in 1977. But he confessed to one definite difference between
himself and his aristocratic character. “Where he wears a smoking jacket to
bed,” he suggested, “I often wear nothing but socks.”
The role earned Mr. Stiers two Emmy nominations (in 1981 and 1982). He was nominated a third time, in 1984, for his lead role in “The First Olympics:
Athens in 1896,” a
In a statement after his death, Loretta Swit, who played Maj. Margaret (Hot Lips) Houlihan on “M*A*S*H,” called Mr. Stiers “my sweet, dear shy friend,” adding, “Working with him was an adventure.”
David Allen Ogden Stiers was born on
Oct. 31, 1942, in , the son of Kenneth Stiers and the
former Margaret Elizabeth Ogden. The family later moved to Peoria,
Ill. , where David graduated from high
After briefly attending the
, he headed to University
of Oregon California
to pursue an acting career and worked with the Santa Clara Shakespeare Festival
in California for seven years. In
the late 1960s, he moved to New York
to study drama at Juilliard.
There he became a member of John Houseman’s City Center Acting Company, making his Broadway debut with the company in 1973. He appeared in “The Three Sisters,” “The Beggar’s Opera” and three other plays, which ran in repertory.
He continued to appear on the
stage in the 1970s and returned to Broadway later in his career, playing a
beloved wartime general in the 2009-10 holiday run of “Irving Berlin’s White
Mr. Stiers had made his film debut with a small role in Jack Nicholson’s counterculture classic “Drive, He Said” (1971). That year, his voice was heard as the announcer in George Lucas’s debut feature film, the dystopian sci-fi drama “
Voice roles went on to become an important part of Mr. Stiers’s career. He was in the cast of about two dozen Disney animated films, including “Lilo & Stitch” (2002), as the villain Jumba Jookiba, and “Beauty and the Beast” (1991), in which he was the voice of Cogsworth, a strong-willed pendulum clock. That character, often described as “tightly wound” and “ticked off,” suggests to the Beast at one point that he woo his love with “flowers, chocolates, promises you don’t intend to keep.”
Other movie work included roles in “Oh, God!” (1977), “The Man With One Red Shoe” (1985), “The Accidental Tourist” (1988) and four Woody Allen films. (He was a peculiar hypnotist in Mr. Allen’s “The Curse of the Jade Scorpion.”) His last screen appearance was in “The Joneses Unplugged,” a 2017 television movie about technology overload.
Like his “M*A*S*H” character, Mr. Stiers was a devoted fan of classical music. He conducted frequently and was the resident conductor of the Newport Symphony Orchestra (formerly the Yaquina Chamber Orchestra) in
He never married. Some reports have suggested that he is survived by a son from an early relationship.
In early 2009, at 66, Mr. Stiers announced that he was gay and “very proud to be so” in a blog interview that was reported by ABC News. His secrecy, he said, had been strictly about the fear that openness about his sexuality might affect his livelihood. Now he regretted that.
“I wish to spend my life’s twilight being just who I am,” he said.
David Ogden Stiers. I remember how you skateboarded to work every day down busy LA streets. How, once you glided into Stage 9, you were
to your core. How gentle you were, how kind, except when devising the most
vicious practical jokes. We love you, David. Goodbye.