Timothy Brown (1937-2020)

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Athlete and actor Timothy Brown passed away Saturday (April 4th) at the age of 82. Brown spent eight seasons playing professional football with the Philadelphia Eagles and also played with the Green Bay Packers and the Baltimore Colts. In the late 1960s, he transitioned to acting. Brown had a small role in the 1969 movie MASH, playing Corporal Judson. When M*A*S*H became a TV series, Brown was cast as Captain Oliver Harmon “Spearchucker” Jones (played by Fred Williamson in the movie).

He appeared in six episodes during the first half of Season 1: “M*A*S*H — The Pilot,” “Chief Surgeon Who?,” “The Moose,” “Henry, Please Come Home,” “I Hate a Mystery,” and “Germ Warfare.”

Still from the M*A*S*H episode M*A*S*H--The Pilot showing Timothy Brown.
Timothy Brown as Spearchucker in the extended opening credits to “M*A*S*H–The Pilot”
Still from the M*A*S*H episode Chief Surgeon Who? showing Timothy Brown
Timothy Brown as Spearchucker in “Chief Surgeon Who?”
Still from the M*A*S*H episode Germ Warfare showing Timothy Brown
Timothy Brown as Spearchucker in “Germ Warfare”

Spearchucker was one of several minor recurring characters written out of the series during the first seasons. Others include Ho-Jon and Ugly John. According to Larry Gelbart, “extensive research” led the producers and writers to believe there were no black surgeons assigned to MASH units during the Korean War. “We were not interested in empty tokenism,” Gelbart wrote in a July 1998 post to the alt.tv.mash newsgroup. “We also had to cut down on the number of characters in the series for budgetary reasons,” he added.

(As The Monster M*A*S*H Wiki explains, at least two black surgeons did serve in MASH units during the Korean War.)

After leaving M*A*S*H, Brown had guest roles in a handful of TV shows during the 1970s and 1980s. He also appeared in moves like Nashville, The Zebra Force, and Losin’ It. According to his Internet Movie Database profile, Brown had just three acting roles between 1990 and 2000, with his last credited role coming in the 2000 movie Frequency.

Yesterday, Loretta Swit tweeted the following in response to the news that Brown had died:

Obituaries can be found at CBS Sports, The Philadelphia Tribune, and the official website of the Philadelphia Eagles.

(via M*A*S*H Matters Podcast on Twitter)

2 Replies to “Timothy Brown (1937-2020)”

  1. Ugh every time I come to mash4077tv and see a new article with a picture of someone from the show that isn’t a round of “Name that Episode”, I just immediately know what it is.

    Always liked the character of Spearchucker. Probably the biggest reason Season 1 stands out so much to me, and really gives me that “good ol days” feeling when I watch the show. Really wished they had kept him around longer, especially since he had that, albeit small, connection through the movie like Gary Burghoff and G. Wood.

    RIP sir. I’m sure your family and friends will miss and mourn you greatly.

  2. I always wished we had more information about the M*A*S*H season 1 experience from his perspective. My guess is he was a private person as he got older. He left his imprint on popular culture, both sports and entertainment – he will never be forgotten by fans of the Eagles or fans of M*A*S*H.

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