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We Loved Him as Col. Potter (‘M*A*S*H’), Det. Bill Gannon (‘Dragnet’) and in 100 Other Roles on TV and in the Movies; Harry Morgan Passes Away at 96

Dec 7, 2011  •  Post A Comment

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Harry Morgan, left, with Jack Webb in “Dragnet”

One of the most famous character actors in Hollywood and a longtime TV star going back to the early days of the medium, the venerable Harry Morgan died today at his home in Los Angeles at the age of 96, reports The New York Times.

Morgan is best known for two iconic TV roles: Col. Sherman T. Potter on "M*A*S*H" (1975 -1983) and Det. Bill Gannon, Sgt. Joe Friday’s sidekick, on the classic cop show "Dragnet" (1967-1970). The actor had recently suffered a bout of pneumonia.

Morgan appeared in more than 100 films and dozens of episodes of television. On film, one of his best was the William A. Wellman-directed Western "The Ox-Bow Incident" (1943), in which he co-starred with Henry Fonda.

In 1980, Morgan won an Emmy as best supporting actor in a comedy series for "M*A*S*H." In 1983 and 1984, he starred in a short-lived spinoff of the show called "After MASH."

Morgan was nominated for a total of 11 Emmys, including as a director for “M*A*S*H” in 1980. He directed a total of nine episodes of the show.

He received his first Emmy nomination in 1959 for “December Bride,” and went on to star in a beloved but relatively obscure spinoff of that show, “Pete and Gladys,” a sitcom that aired from 1960-1962.

His TV career came after he had already established himself as a regularly seen character actor in film, performing in his early years as Henry Morgan. He began using Harry instead after another Henry Morgan, a comedian, became popular in the early 1960s.

He started out as a contract player at 20th Century-Fox in 1942. During the 1940s he appeared in “State Fair” and “Orchestra Wives,” among many other films.

In 2004, Harry Morgan was interviewed by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences’  Archive of American television: “I’d like to be remembered for being a fairly pleasant person and for having gotten along for the most part with a lot of the people I’ve worked with. And for having a wonderful life and for having enjoyed practically every minute of it. Especially in the picture business and on the stage, and I think I’m one of the luckiest people in the world.”

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With Gary Burghoff in “M*A*S*H”

3 Comments

  1. My favorite roles by Harry Morgan were from the “Support you Local Sheriff” and “Support you Local Gunslinger” movies, with James Garner.

  2. I had the same opinion as you. He was great in those roles.

  3. Nary a word about him beating up his wife in 1997. At least Wikipedia is impartial.

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