TMZ is reporting that actor David Ogden Stiers – know for his role on M*A*S*H* and for voicing several Disney characters – has passed away at the age of 75 from bladder cancer. Stiers was born on Halloween in 1942 and grew up in Illinois, where one of his high school classmates was future renowned movie critic Roger Ebert. He moved to Oregon where he finished high school and briefly attended college before moving again, this time to San Francisco where he performed Shakespeare and joined the Actor’s Workshop. Next he went to New York City and studied at Julliard.
Stiers began his on camera career – which consists of well over 150 live-action and voiceover roles – as the voice of the announcer in George Lucas’ debut film THX 1138. He followed that up with several TV guest starring roles, including appearing in the pilot of Charlie’s Angels, learning to drive a car for the first time for one episode of Kojak, and also episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Rhoda. In 1977 Stiers landed the role that changed his life forever on the already hit TV series M*A*S*H*, that of Major Charles Emerson Winchester III.
Brought in to replace Larry Linville’s Frank Burns, Winchester was an arrogant and pompous man who resented being forced to be a war doctor when all he wanted was a nice clean office and colleagues of refined taste. He became something of a foil for laidback doctors Pierce and Honeycutt and was often the butt of their practical jokes. But over time, the character softened a bit, making friends with his fellow doctors and nurses and facing the realities of war. Stiers remained on the show until the final episode, appearing 131 times over six years.
After M*A*S*H* ended, Stiers worked constantly, with a role in the movie Better Off Dead, three episode arcs in both Matlock and Murder, She Wrote, and playing Congressman Sam Greene in the miniseries North & South. He also began to make regular appearances in Perry Mason made-for-TV movies, being seen as D.A. Michael Reston six times, all in the year 1987, and then twice more in 1989. He returned to both Matlock and Murder, She Wrote as different characters some time later, again appearing in three episodes of each.
In 1991 Stiers was heard as the voice both of the opening narrator and of Cogsworth the clock in Beauty and the Beast. This was the first of several roles in various Disney animated films for Stiers – he was also Governor Ratcliffe and Wiggins in Pocahontas, Archdeacon in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Fenton Q. Harcourt in Atlantis: The Lost Empire, and Dr. Jumba Jookiba in Lilo & Stitch. Often he would voice these characters again in sequels, specials, and TV shows. Meanwhile, he was also appearing in a number of live-action movies, including Doc Hollywood, Iron Will, The Majestic, and Lady in the Water. He continued doing voiceover and TV guest spots as well, including a 40 episode run on the series The Dead Zone.
Stiers passed away in his Oregon home earlier today. The three time Emmy nominee had a career that spanned decades and left behind an immense catalog of incredible work. He will be greatly missed.
Rest in Peace David Ogden Stiers: October 31, 1942 – March 3, 2018
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