Legendary Harry Morgan, star of ‘M*A*S*H,’ Dead at 96

by | December 7, 2011 at 2:14 PM | Harry Morgan 1915-2011, TV News

Harry Morgan (Getty Images)

Harry Morgan (Getty Images)

Harry Morgan — star of “M*A*S*H” and “Dragnet,” and one of the oldest living TV legends — has died in California at age 96.

No cause of death was given, but Morgan had recently been treated for pneumonia, according to this obit on the New York Times Web site.

Morgan had one of the most active careers in the history of Hollywood. His acting career stretched at least as far back as 1937, when he made his Broadway debut in the classic play “Golden Boy.”

He’s best known to most of us for playing Col. Sherman T. Potter on “M*A*S*H,” joining the show as the camp’s “regular Army” commanding officer after McLean Stevenson exited in spring 1975. Before joining that show, however, Morgan was already well-established as one of Hollywood’s most ubiquitous character actors in movies and TV.

On TV, he had already played an iconic police detective — Bill Gannon — on the legendary “Dragnet” of the 1960s. Morgan worked in an era when TV producers relied on a seemingly small handful of reliable character actors to play various types. All told, Morgan starred in an estimated 10 TV series, the Times obit reports, but he appeared in numerous roles in countless other shows.

And his movies ranged widely too — from classics such as “The Ox Bow Incident” (1943), “High Noon” (1953) and “Inherit the Wind” (1960) to “The Apple Dumpling Gang” (1975) and its sequel “The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again” (1979). He even voiced the character of “Bill Gannon” in a “Simpsons” episode.

Harry Morgan was born Harry Bratsburg on April 10, 1915, in Detroit. According to IMDB.com, Morgan last worked in 1999.

These days, you can catch “M*A*S*H” on TV Land and episodes of “Dragnet” can be seen on Antenna TV (and also below).

Watch Harry Morgan in a classic episode of “Dragnet” here:


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