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

Get More: In Memoriam, News

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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Comments (30)

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

    Comment by Coburn – December 7, 2011 10:24 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I thought the same thing! Glad to see I’m not the opnly one with Dexter on the brain.

      Comment by Courtney – December 7, 2011 10:37 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • 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!

    Comment by Stacey – December 7, 2011 10:24 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Very very sad. Loved him.

    Comment by Caiti – December 7, 2011 10:26 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I watched him all my life. RIP Henry. Thank you for the years of entertainment.

    Comment by Bobbi – December 7, 2011 10:27 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • And then I screw up his name! Sorry…..Harry. He reminds me of my Dad….who was Henry.

      Comment by Bobbi – December 7, 2011 10:28 AM PDT  Reply To This Post

    Comment by BARBARA – December 7, 2011 10:34 AM PDT  Reply To This Post

      Comment by Rock Golf – December 7, 2011 11:43 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • And I was just thinking about the last Harry Potter movie.

        Comment by David – December 7, 2011 11:58 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • 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.

    Comment by Kath G – December 7, 2011 10:43 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • 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.

    Comment by Kelley – December 7, 2011 10:51 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • 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!!!

    Comment by Margie – December 7, 2011 10:52 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • RIP

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

    Comment by RIP – December 7, 2011 10:54 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Ever hear that you shouldn’t speak ill of the dead? That’s just wrong.

      Comment by Jenny – December 7, 2011 11:28 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Yes, because Wikipedia is never wrong…

      Comment by Heather – December 7, 2011 11:46 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Goodbye, farewell and amen, Colonel Potter.

    Comment by Amy – December 7, 2011 11:11 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Rest in peace, Sherm.

    Comment by dee – December 7, 2011 11:17 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Heaven just welcome one of the best…
    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!

    Comment by Jules – December 7, 2011 11:51 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • 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!)

    Comment by Daya Ryelle – December 7, 2011 11:54 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I loved that episode when he played the kooky general. Those were the good ol days when anything goes on tv. RIP Harry Morgan.

    Comment by Chris – December 7, 2011 01:05 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Loved Harry Morgan even before he joined MASH. He was also was a wonderful addition to any show on which he appeared. RIP, Harry

    Comment by Katy – December 7, 2011 01:39 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • 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.

    Comment by aleksa – December 7, 2011 01:49 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • 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.

    Comment by Ashley – December 7, 2011 02:51 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • 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!

    Comment by Julie – December 7, 2011 03:03 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • R I P Great actor. Loved watching old movies where he sometimes played a “heavy”

    Comment by baillor – December 7, 2011 03:17 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • ‘Horse Hockey!’ He’s not really dead, he lives in our minds, and our hearts. Physically but not spiritually I always say!

    Comment by Connor – December 7, 2011 07:10 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • 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.

    Comment by Christina – December 7, 2011 11:10 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • 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.

    Comment by Brian – December 8, 2011 12:17 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • He was a lovely lovely man and a great actor. RIP Harry Morgan – you were much loved.

    Comment by Alexm – December 8, 2011 01:46 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Nige and Paul in the UK loved the character Potter.
    Hope his family soon find peace, so very sad for your loss.

    Comment by Paul – December 8, 2011 01:17 PM PDT  Reply To This Post

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