Wednesday, December 7, 2011

In Memoriam: Harry (Henry) Morgan 1915-2011

Actor. The Ox-Bow Incident (watch how the focus is on Morgan during Henry Fonda's monologue). Dragonwyke. All My Sons. The Big Clock. Race Street. Scandal Sheet. High Noon. The Glen Miller Story. Inherit the Wind. What Did You Do in the War, Daddy? Dragnet (1967-1970 TV series). Support Your Local Sheriff. Support Your Local Gunfighter. Viva Max. The Apple Dumpling Gang (believe it or not, it was a box office hit, so I felt I had to include it.) MASH (TV series). Dragnet (1987 movie).

"He [Colonel Potter on MASH] was firm. He was a good officer and he had a good sense of humor. I think it's the best part I ever had."

(That may have been the best part Morgan ever had, but it wasn't the funniest character he ever played on MASH. A year before he became a regular member of the cast, when the man he eventually replaced, McLean Stevenson, was still on the show, Morgan played Major General Bartford Hamilton Steele. But first, a number --KJ)


  1. If you clicked on that second link ("number") you might notice that the video isn't of the highest quality. Sorry, it was the best I could do. I swear, if you listen to it with a hearing aid with the volumn turned all the way up, it's really very funny.

  2. Oh yes, funny it is. The looks on everyone's faces are priceless. The 'rubber truck' may be coming for all of us.

  3. harry morgan was a gem. i remember his portrayal of hamilton steele. i nearly asphyxiated, i was laughing so hard. i also remember one episode of MASH, when he gathered everyone together to remember his ww1 buddies who had died. THAT was a real tearjerker.
    thanks for this, kirk.

  4. Kass--That's why I now travel side streets and alleys. I don't want those men in the white suits to find me. As Ralph Kramden once put it, they ain't the Good Humor men!

    rraine: That episode, if I remember correctly, ended with the whole gang opening and sharing a bottle of wine from the WWI era. As MASH took place in the 1950s, it would have been about 35 years old. Want to know another Harry Morgan MASH moment that was touching? It was just that, a moment, not the entire episode, followed by a bit of humor that in no way detracted from the warmth of that moment. It happened early in Colonel Potter's tenure as commander of the 4077. Radar had been having a difficult time establishing any kind of rapport with his new boss. Realizing it was Potter's birthday, and knowing he was a horse lover, Rader went and got him one as a gift. Potter is in near tears when he sees the horse. "She's beautiful" he says.

    OK, now the humor. As Potter aproaches the horse, he stumbles over something.

    Frank Burns (looking down at the ground): That's disgusting!

    Radar: Sorry about that, sir.

    Potter (laughing): Oh, don't worry, son. To me, that's just a tiptoe thru the tulips!

  5. Thanks Kirk, Harry Morgan was a wonderful actor. I also loved him in Dragnet, both the series and the movie remake.

  6. kirk, yes, i think it was a bottle of cognac. i recall him saying something about a "tantine", but i've not been able to find the reference. and boy do i remember the horse episode well! it was the beginning of a wonderful connection between radar and col. potter.
    you, my friend, have a marvelous mind.

  7. @Mike: He played opposite Jack Webb on the TV version, and opposite Dan Ackroyd parodying Jack Webb in the movie. Of course, Morgan did a pretty good job of parodying himself.

    @rraine--Just looked it up now. The word is "tontine". One online dictionary defines it as "An annuity shared by subscribers to a loan or common fund, the shares increasing as subscribers die until the last survivor enjoys the..." Of course, that's what Potter and his WWI buddies were doing with that bottle of cognac. When all those buddies died, leaving Potter the lone survivor, he started a new tontine with his Korean war buddies. I think that's what happened.

  8. Very interesting... I really like it... Thank you so much...


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