One of the blogs I read regularly is written by Ken Levine, not the video game designer but a highly successful TV writer, among whose credits includes the long-running Korean War sitcom (or, if you will, comedy-drama) MASH. A couple of years ago, he was asked in his comment section what did he think the characters on that show would be doing today were they real people rather than fictional (in which case they ceased to exist after the series finale.) Levine replied that given that the Korean War ended more than 60 years ago, they would probably all be dead. Of course, the TV version of that war ended more recently, in 1983, some 35 years ago. Still, it's long enough of a time frame to take its toll on a several of that series actors. McLean Stevenson (Henry Blake), Larry Linville (Frank Burns), Harry Morgan (Colonel Potter), Wayne Rogers (Trapper John), and William Christopher (Father Mulcahy) have all left us. And as I'm sure you figured out the moment you clicked this on this post, David Ogden Stiers, who played the pompous, upper-crust surgeon Charles Winchester III, is gone now, too. Back in 1977, Stiers had a tough pair of army boots to fill as he had to take over for the talented Linville, whose Burns character was one of the funniest TV assholes of all time. However, Stiers was no slouch in the talent department himself. Winchester, particularly in the earlier episodes, could be every bit an asshole as Burns, but was also capable of something the latter character lacked (and was a major reason Linville chose to leave the series): depth. In addition to acting foolish, Charles occasionally acted noble (such as when he offered hope to a concert pianist whose right hand was damaged in the fighting), could come across as sympathetic (such as when he tried to romance a Korean goodtime girl who just wants him for his hamburgers), and, while often the butt of Hawkeye and BJ's jokes, had his own ways of humbling the two of them right back (such as when he produced a photo of himself and Audrey Hepburn). And unlike Frank Burns, Charles was a highly gifted surgeon, even if it did take a bit long for him to wash his hands.
A Charles Winchester III sampling:
What's that one one guy doing in Korea? He'd be better off at a sports bar in Boston.
Charles love of classical music set him apart from the motley 4077th crew.
Not that he could play it all that well himself.
Charles noble side.
Remember those North Korean prisoners playing classical music at the end of that second clip? I'm afraid they never got to make an encore:
Heavy scene. Much of the time, though, MASH was a comedy...
...not that all the yuks made things any easier for Charles.
Goodbye, farewell, and amen, David Ogden Stiers.