David Ogden Stiers, the actor who famously played Major Charles Emerson Winchester III on M*A*S*H, has died, The Hollywood Reporter confirmed Saturday. He was 75.
“My dear friend and client of 30 years is gone,” representative Mitchell Stubbs of Mitchell K. Stubbs & Associates said in a statement. “David had wisdom and talent in so many different areas. I wish people could know the beautiful heart that he had. His friends and family knew, as he told us so.”
Stiers died at his home in Newport, Oregon, and had been battling bladder cancer, The Oregonian reported Saturday.
In his role as Major Winchester on CBS’ smash-hit sitcom M*A*S*H, filling in for actor Larry Linville after he left the show, Stiers played a blue-blooded surgeon and straight man to the cast’s practical jokers. In real life, however, Stiers gave back as good as he got to his castmembers.
“To repay Stiers for all his pranks on us, we had his dressing room painted orange and purple over Thanksgiving break. When we came back, we were waiting for him to rant. He said nothing. Finally, one of us asked, ‘What’s new?’ ” co-star Jamie Farr remembered in THR‘s oral history of M*A*S*H in February.
“It is devastating,” Loretta Swit, who played Major Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan on the show, said in a statement. “He was an extraordinary person, a gifted actor, phenomenal musician and my sweet, dear shy friend who kiddingly called me Letitia. Working with him was an adventure. He was exceptional. I’m hurting. We all are.”
Stiers was nominated for two primetime Emmys for his work as Winchester, in 1981 and 1982; he later won a trophy for his role as U.S. Olympic Committee founder William Milligan Sloane on the NBC miniseries The First Olympics: Athens 1896 in 1984.
Stiers also appeared on the ABC miniseries North and South and in the 1987 Showtime movie J. Edgar Hoover.
Aside from his live-action work, Stiers was a prolific voice actor, working in eight Disney animated features including 1991’s Beauty and the Beast (in which he played Cogsworth), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (the Archdeacon), Pocahontas (Governor Ratcliffe) and Lilo & Stitch (Dr. Jumba Jookiba). He also voiced Kamaji in the English-dubbed version of Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away.
Born in Peoria, Illinois, Stiers moved with his family to Eugene, Oregon, and graduated from North Eugene High School in 1960. He came to New York City in 1969, studied drama at Julliard and joined the Houseman City Center Acting Company.