Sunday, March 04, 2018

M*A*S*H Star David Ogden Stiers Dead at 75

Variety reports:

David Ogden Stiers, best known for his role as the arrogant surgeon Major Charles Emerson Winchester III on “MASH,” died Saturday. He was 75.

His agent, Mitchell K. Stubbs, tweeted that he died of bladder cancer at his home in Newport, Ore.

For his work on “MASH,” Stiers was twice Emmy nominated for outstanding supporting actor in a comedy or variety or music series, in 1981 and 1982, and he earned a third Emmy nomination for his performance in NBC miniseries “The First Olympics: Athens 1896” as William Milligan Sloane, the founder of the U.S. Olympic Committee.

In 2009, the actor revealed publicly that he was gay. He told ABC News at the time that he had hidden his sexuality for a long time because so much of his income had been derived from family-friendly programming, and coming out thus might have had repercussions in the past.

See full story here.

Stiers was born in Peoria, Illinois. He moved to Oregon and briefly attended the University of Oregon. He later moved to San Francisco, where he performed with the California Shakespeare Theater, San Francisco Actors Workshop, and the improv group The Committee, whose members included Rob Reiner, Howard Hesseman and Peter Bonerz. Stiers studied at the Juilliard.  During his studies, Stiers was mentored by actor John Houseman, whose City Center Acting Company he later joined.

Stiers first appeared in the Broadway production The Magic Show in 1974 as Feldman. Subsequent early credits include The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Kojak, and Rhoda. Stiers also appeared in the pilot of Charlie's Angels as the team's chief back-up.

In 1977, Stiers joined the cast of M*A*S*H. As Major Charles Emerson Winchester III, Stiers filled the void created by the departure of actor Larry Linville's Frank Burns character. In contrast to the buffoonish Burns, Winchester was a well-spoken and talented surgeon who presented a different type of foil to Alan Alda's Hawkeye Pierce and Mike Farrell's B.J. Hunnicutt. Burns usually served as the butt of practical jokes instigated by Pierce or Hunnicutt, was frequently inundated by insults. Winchester, however, presented a challenge to his colleagues' displays of irreverence because his surgical skills could match or even outshine their own, and when it came to pranks and insults, he could give as good as he got.

After M*A*S*H completed its run in 1983, Stiers expanded his work on television with regular guest appearances on North and South; Star Trek: The Next Generation; Murder, She Wrote; Matlock; Touched by an Angel; Wings; and Frasier

Stiers provided voice work for dozens of film and television projects. Stiers voiced PBS documentary films such as Ric Burns' project New York: A Documentary Film, 2010 Peabody Award winner The Lord is Not on Trial Here Today and several episodes of the documentary television series The American Experience

He collaborated with Disney on eight animated features, including 1991's Beauty and the Beast (as Cogsworth, also providing the opening narration). 

Stiers worked a great deal for director Woody Allen, appearing in “Shadows and Fog,” “Mighty Aphrodite,” “Everybody Says I Love You” and “Curse of the Jade Scorpion” (in which he played a mysterious hypnotist).

Stiers was the associate conductor for the Newport (Oregon) Symphony Orchestra and the Ernest Bloch Music Festival. He also guest-conducted over 70 orchestras around the world, including the Oregon Mozart Players, the Vancouver Symphony, the Virginia Symphony, the Oregon Chamber Players, the Yaquina (Oregon) Chamber Orchestra, as well as orchestras in San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles, Chicago and Toronto.

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