Harry Morgan (1915-2011)

Harry Morgan, who portrayed Colonel Sherman Potter for eight seasons on M*A*S*H and an additional two on AfterMASH, passed away this morning at the age of 96. Although M*A*S*H defined his career, Morgan spent five decades acting, starting with bit parts in films in the early 1940s before transitioning to television in the mid-1950s. He co-starred in December Bride from 1954-1959; from 1960-1962 he starred in a spin-off of that series, Pete and Gladys. He had a recurring role on Kentucky Jones from 1964-1965. Then, from 1967-1970 he appeared opposite Jack Webb in a revival of Webb’s police drama, Dragnet.

Harry Morgan (1915-2011)
Harry Morgan (1915-2011)

Morgan followed up Dragnet with a recurring role in Hec Ramsey from 1972-1974. Then, on September 10th, 1974, he made a memorable guest appearance on the third season premiere of M*A*S*H. When McLean Stevenson (Colonel Blake) left the series at the end of that season, Morgan was brought in to replace him the following year as commanding officer of the 4077th. Morgan’s Colonel Potter was a very different CO, stricter in many ways than Blake, but fit in well with the other characters. For his role on M*A*S*H, Morgan was nominated for ten Emmy Awards (nine for acting and one for directing) and won once in 1980 for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy or Variety or Music Series. He also was nominated for a DGA Award in 1982.

Scriptwriter Ken Levine has posted a few memories of working with Harry Morgan. MSNBC.com has a list of seven great Colonel Potter moments. TV Land has put together the following brief video and has announced it will be airing special episodes of M*A*S*H to honor Harry Morgan this weekend:


In 2004, Morgan was interviewed for three-and-a-half hours for the Archive of American Television. Here’s an excerpt in which he discusses his famous role of Colonel Potter:


Here’s Alan Alda talking about Harry Morgan, from his own Archive of American Television interview:


Obituaries can be found at The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, NPR.com and Variety.com.

13 Comments

  • Eric says:

    My favorite episode has to be “Old Soldiers.” It displays the range of Morgan’s acting as well as his talent behind the camera.

  • Mike Cole says:

    What about nurse Kelleye? She is only one of three charcters who appeared in the first and last episodes.

  • Chai says:

    He was such a great actor…..its hard to believe watching the show that the loony Gen. Steele was the same steely eyed Col. Potter. RIP Harry. You will be missed.

  • Shawn says:

    Godspeed Harry.

  • Robert Hooks says:

    To my dearest family, some things I’d like to say…
    but first of all, to let you know, that I arrived okay.
    I’m writing this from heaven. Here I dwell with God above.
    Here, there’s no more tears of sadness; here is just eternal love.

    Please do not be unhappy just because I’m out of sight.
    Remember that I’m with you every morning, noon and night.
    That day I had to leave you when my life on earth was through,
    God picked me up and hugged me and He said, “I welcome you.”

    It’s good to have you back again; you were missed while you were gone.
    As for your dearest family, they’ll be here later on.
    I need you here badly; you’re part of my plan.
    There’s so much that we have to do, to help our mortal man.

    God gave me a list of things, that he wished for me to do.
    And foremost on the list, was to watch and care for you.
    And when you lie in bed at night, the day’s chores put to flight.
    God and I are closest to you….in the middle of the night.

    When you think of my life on earth, and all those loving years
    because you are only human, they are bound to bring you tears.
    But do not be afraid to cry; it does relieve the pain.
    Remember there would be no flowers, unless there was some rain.

    I wish that I could tell you all that God has planned.
    But if I were to tell you, you wouldn’t understand.
    But one thing is for certain, though my life on earth is o’er.
    I’m closer to you now, than I ever was before.

    There are many rocky roads ahead of you and many hills to climb;
    but together we can do it by taking one day at a time.
    It was always my philosophy and I’d like it for you too…
    that as you give unto the world, the world will give to you.

    If you can help somebody who’s in sorrow and pain,
    then you can say to God at night……”My day was not in vain.”
    And now I am contented….that my life has been worthwhile,
    knowing as I passed along the way, I made somebody smile.

    So if you meet somebody who is sad and feeling low,
    just lend a hand to pick him up, as on your way you go.
    When you’re walking down the street, and you’ve got me on your mind;
    I’m walking in your footsteps only half a step behind.

    And when it’s time for you to go…. from that body to be free,
    remember you’re not going…..you’re coming here to me.

  • Teddy says:

    May you rest in peace, Mr. Harry Morgan and our beloved Sherman T. Potter, as Klinger would put it!

  • chuckles says:

    “To Stein, the joker of the crowd……..and to Rusky, my best friend who was with me through thick and thin……….I loved you fellas….one and all……….”

    To Harry Morgan………..we now drink to the memories you gave all of us…….

    Only thing is, there is no wine, brandy or other beverage we could brew that would be good enough to toast to you.

    From all of us here who have responded and been part of this wonderful website RJ created to keep the memories of M*A*S*H alive, we drink to you Harry.

  • Gary Richard Collins II says:

    Harry Morgan was the best! He’ll always be #1 to me, since he led a long life! May He rest in Heaven.

  • Mrs. G in NJ says:

    Hard to believe that, in the episode “Twas the Day After Christmas”, (Season 10), Harry Morgan jumps up on a chair to address those assembled at the Christmas celebration. He was 66 years old at that time!

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