He’s not likely to recognize him, but Nick in the Morning would like to wish the actor and Peoria native David Ogden Stiers a happy 74th birthday. Born in what is now the OSF Saint Francis Medical Center, Stiers and his family lived in Peoria Heights and Chillicothe before moving out of the area shortly before starting high school.
Stiers may be most famous for the role of Maj. Charles Emerson Winchester III, the pompous doctor who shared a Hawkeye (Alan Alda) and BJ Hunnicutt (Mike Farrell) tent during the Korean War in the television series “M * A * S * H”. Stiers’ portrait earned two Emmy Award nominations.
Stiers’ performances on “M * A * S * H” were memorable, as was the show itself. It ran for almost 11 years and its final episode was the most watched of any TV series.
“M * A * S * H” was famous for its ensemble cast and regular customers who increased it. On the occasion of Stiers’ birth day, we thought of looking at five of our favorite “M * A * S * H” characters, permanent or periodic (as usual for this space, in no particular order).
Lieutenant Colonel Henry Blake (played by McLean Stevenson)
The first commander of 4077 was a fact, considering that Stevenson, like Stiers, is a native of central Illinois. Stevenson was born and raised in Bloomington-Normal. Known for wearing a University of Illinois sweater and his good-natured tolerance for Hawkeye and former running mate “Trapper John” McIntyre (Wayne Rogers), Blake was killed when Stevenson decided to leave the show and pursue other projects. “Hi, Larry” has never received the same attention as “M * A * S * H”, of course.
Cpl. Max Klinger (played by Jamie Farr)
Everyone’s favorite transvestite soldier always tried to be discharged from the army, but his superiors never fell in love with his act. Klinger was the rare regular character who was not part of the film on which “M * A * S * H” was based, but became an integral part. His hometown of Toledo, Ohio, from which Farr also came, received constant mention. Toledo’s hot dog institute Tony Packo’s Cafe, which Nick in the Morning can vouch for, became famous in part thanks to Klinger’s mentions on the show.
Mag. Sidney Freedman (played by Allan Arbus)
Freedman was an army psychiatrist summoned occasionally to 4077 to help his members manage mental health problems and the stress of war. He has also given Klinger a few times and has never found him crazy enough for a discharge. Freedman appeared in 12 episodes. His most salient words could be applicable to any situation, come to think of it:
Col. Sherman T. Potter (played by Harry Morgan)
Originally from Hannibal, Mo., Potter certainly behaved this way. Blake’s replacement as 4077th commander was not to blame, but was also realistic enough to allow Hawkeye and the gang to be dismayed when situations required it. Potter became the protagonist of “AfterMASH”, a spin-off focused on his post-war practice in Missouri. That show reached “Hello, Larry” status.
Col. Sam Flagg (played by Edward Winter)
Flagg appeared in just seven episodes but was memorable as a paranoid American intelligence agent. On purpose, he was seriously injured to advance an investigation. He also crashed his Jeep into a brick wall and set himself on fire. Flagg was also famous for accusing Maj’s mumbling. Frank Burns (Larry Linville) to be a communist agent. That was a baseless red scare.