Harry Morgan, of M*A*S*H and Dragnet, Dead at 96

Fly your flag at half mast: M*A*S*H’s Col. Sherman T. Potter, Harry Morgan, died on Wednesday morning.

The actor, who was 96, appeared in more than 100 movies, among them High Noon, Inherit the Wind and How the West Was Won (as Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, no less). He also appeared frequently on television, popping up on everything from Gunsmoke to The Simpsons, and playing Officer Bill Gannon in the late-’60s Dragnet update.

But it is M*A*S*H for which he is sure to be most widely — and fondly — remembered. After a showy guest performance on the series, he was brought back to create the new role of Col. Potter — a replacement for the departing McLean Stevenson’s commanding officer, Henry Blake.

“I think it’s the best part I ever had,” the Emmy winner once said. In fact, it was such a good part that not only did he stick with it until M*A*S*H ended its run, he continued it on the short-lived spinoff After MASH.

For a reminder of why the twice-married powerhouse was so highly regarded, click on the clip below. It’s no laughing matter, but boy, will Morgan take your breath away, exploding, as he does, like a silver-haired grenade.

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30 Comments
  1. Coburn says:

    Aw, this is sad! :(
    I will admit, though, my very first thought from your Twitter headline “RIP Harry Morgan” was: “what, Dexter’s father?!!”

  2. Stacey says:

    RIP Colonel Potter. Harry Morgan was very talented. It’s quite remarkable that he appeared in a earlier episode, only to come back a season later as a whole new character that was very different. Loved Colonel Potter. He was so different from Henry Blake. That is what I loved about MASH and have collected all the seasons in DVDs because they made those who came in to replace a departed character their own characters. MASH is such a classic. And Harry Morgan did an amazing job on it. So we’ll miss you. Amazing he lived to be 96 years old. Quite remarkable!

  3. Caiti says:

    Very very sad. Loved him.

  4. Bobbi says:

    I watched him all my life. RIP Henry. Thank you for the years of entertainment.

  5. BARBARA says:

    WOW THIS MAN CROSS MY MIND YESTERDAY I WAS WONDERING IF HE WAS STILL STILL ALIVE. I HAVE A ERRIE FEELING TODAY AFTER HEARING HE DIED.

  6. Kath G says:

    What a great career this fine actor had. But he will live on in the classic shows like MASH, which never gets old on rewatching, always had a soft spot for Col Potter. One of my other favorite Harry Morgan roles was with Henrry Fonda in the Ox Bow incident, Which was a very powerful flim, for those that watch TCM will know what I mean. 96 was a great age, RIP Mr Morgan.

  7. Kelley says:

    A career and talent to be admired and missed. Excellent choice of a clip. It made me tear up. The crack in his voice as he delivers that line at the end. Thank you Harry Morgan.

  8. Margie says:

    I absolutely adored Harry Morgan. I watched Dragnet as a young girl and loved him on there. I’ve seen just about everything he’s ever been in. Will miss him very much!!!

  9. RIP says:

    RIP

    even tho per his Wiki page, was a total wife beater.

  10. Amy says:

    Goodbye, farewell and amen, Colonel Potter.

  11. dee says:

    Rest in peace, Sherm.

  12. Jules says:

    Heaven just welcome one of the best…
    FAREWELL POTTER!
    When I heard the news my first reaction was to salute,then took my M*A*S*H boxset and watch an episode
    Rest in peace SHERM!

  13. Daya Ryelle says:

    Colonel Potter always has been, always will be my absolute favorite. So sad he’s gone…but so happy that MASH is in syndication! (Watch it every Sunday!)

  14. Chris says:

    I loved that episode when he played the kooky general. Those were the good ol days when anything goes on tv. RIP Harry Morgan.

  15. Katy says:

    Loved Harry Morgan even before he joined MASH. He was also was a wonderful addition to any show on which he appeared. RIP, Harry

  16. aleksa says:

    I always loved him on “MASH”; partially because he reminded me a lot of my grandpa, but mostly because there was just a lot of layers to the character of Potter.

  17. Ashley says:

    Rest in peace, Harry Morgan. His character of Colonel Potter helped bring a welcome depth and deeper humor to M*A*S*H and I’ll always remember him and his character fondly.

  18. Julie says:

    Mom and I were just watching back to back episodes of M*A*S*H when I found this news. Very sad day. RIP Colonel! You will be missed!

  19. baillor says:

    R I P Great actor. Loved watching old movies where he sometimes played a “heavy”

  20. Connor says:

    ‘Horse Hockey!’ He’s not really dead, he lives in our minds, and our hearts. Physically but not spiritually I always say!

  21. Christina says:

    RIP Although sad, he did have a long life which is great. Loved him on MASH, thought he did such a great job distinguishing his character from Blake. Really amazing actor. He did some really touching moments on the show.

  22. Brian says:

    I must admit that I got very teary-eyed when I saw that Harry Morgan had died. There are very few shows, actors, and characters which transcend generations. M*A*S*H and Sherman T Potter were ones that did just that. I remember watching the originals growing up kid and then again in syndication for many, many years there after. M*A*S*H and Harry Morgan brought laughter to many generations. God speed Sherm. God Speed.

  23. Alexm says:

    He was a lovely lovely man and a great actor. RIP Harry Morgan – you were much loved.

  24. Paul says:

    Nige and Paul in the UK loved the character Potter.
    Hope his family soon find peace, so very sad for your loss.

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