MASH’s David Ogden Stiers Dies At Age 75

Variety reports:

David Ogden Stiers, best known for his role as the arrogant surgeon Major Charles Emerson Winchester III on “MASH,” died Saturday. He was 75. His agent, Mitchell K. Stubbs, tweeted that he died of bladder cancer at his home in Newport, Ore.

For his work on “MASH,” Stiers was twice Emmy nominated for outstanding supporting actor in a comedy or variety or music series, in 1981 and 1982, and he earned a third Emmy nomination for his performance in NBC miniseries “The First Olympics: Athens 1896” as William Milligan Sloane, the founder of the U.S. Olympic Committee.

  • Christopher
    • TuuxKabin

      Oh that’s incredibly moving. I saved to a tab, but Google for image fails to identify source. Do you know what it’s from?

      • Fifth-and-a-Half Element

        Doctor Who…Wilfred Mott. Great character.

        • ColdCountry

          Oh, *sniff* thank you for this. I loved Wilfred so much, and always hoped he be in an episode.

        • TuuxKabin

          Thanks for that. Bit of a sob at the end opened a torrent. Think it’s time to look into getting a flat screen. I recognize Wilfred from . . . thanks again.

      • ColdCountry

        As Fifth said, it’s from Doctor Who. Wilfred Mott was the grandfather of Donna Noble, one of the Doctors companions, who also traveled with Ten briefly. Played by Bernard Cribbins, a wonderful British character actor.

        • Mihangel apYrs

          Cribbins – who played comedy until he didn’t. And turned out to be pretty good at drama

          • ColdCountry

            He really is good.

          • Mihangel apYrs

            see “The Mouse that Roared” – great fun

        • TuuxKabin

          Yes, thank you. Cathartic for this weekend. We’re getting closer to popping for a flat screen and Hulu, or Netflix . TV holds no interest for us, but programming like Doctor Who and other programs mentioned by you all here are peaking our interest.

          • ColdCountry

            I never got Doctor Who on my tv, and now I no longer have a tv. A friend, back in the day, sent me all of Nine and Ten that she’d copied on disk, and since I discovered that Amazon Prime has the Doctor, I’ve been watching my way through it all. I’m into the Twelfth Doctor, now, and when I finish the new Doctors, I’ll go back and watch the classics. You want to check out Torchwood, too, after watching the Ninth Doctor. 😉

            Disclaimer: When my friend first wanted me to watch the Doctor, I hesitated because it can be VERY complicated to follow, what with all the wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey plot lines, and I did spend hours on line learning who was who, when, and where. Well, trying to learn. They keep rewriting history and disclosing new stuff. It is possible for the less obsessive, however, to just watch and enjoy and not get too caught up in the unending detail. Torchwood, a spin-off from the Ninth Doctor, is far more straight forward, and stars the ever gorgeous John Barrowman.

          • TuuxKabin

            That exhausted me. Watching the clip from Fifth and a half element, as intriguing as it is, gave me the impression it’s either too late to try and watch now, or go on hiatus and do nothing but try to follow the installments. Which I don’t have the luxury to do. Snippets emote a lot for and to me, I’ll leave it at that, but thanks for your explanation and experience.

          • ColdCountry

            It is never too late to get on board with the Doctor! I’d start with the Ninth Doctor, Season 1 of the reboot of the series, and just enjoy. If you get too confused about something in particular, there are vast resources on line. Just try not to obsess over the details too much. I still find myself pausing an episode every now and then and going to google to refresh my memory about who or what someone or something is. There are still elements that confuse me, but I just let them go and accept that I will never be a true geek. Some of the writing is sheer genius, and as the Doctor is a time traveler, there are few things from the past shows that they can’t write their way around. One stand out element of the show is that it takes ordinary, everyday objects and turns them into terrifying things. Silence, shadows, scarecrows, plastic trash bins, cars, snowmen, Christmas trees, mannequins, diet pills, and perhaps the scariest of them all, statues of weeping angels. For a taste of the genius of it all, and even though it is “light” on the Doctor, watch “Blink.”


          • Fifth-and-a-Half Element
          • ColdCountry


  • Ninja0980

    RIP Cogworth:(

  • worstcultever

    What a wonderful talent. RIP.

    (Note to self: re-watch “Spirited Away”)

  • FAEN

    So sad to hear this 😞

  • Boreal

    I remember wondering how they would replace Frank Burns (Larry Linville). Stiers did a great job of it with a totally different character.

    • TuuxKabin

      You’ve gone all white on us. Nice winter coat.

  • JT

    RIP, David. I hope you found joy in your life and an end to the fear.

    I remember reading about his late coming out, and that of other tv and film actors.

  • SoCalGal20

    Sad news. 🙁

  • Bert_Bauer

    M*A*S*H is one of those great TV series like Star Trek that I could just never get into.

  • netxtown

    Well crap. Why did they have to say it was bladder cancer??? I’m scheduled for one of those camera-up-the-weenie … and I’ve been looking for some way to slither out of it….but now, fine! Take your damned pictures.

    • hudson11

      my former business partner is now 10 years free of bladder cancer. Had to have multiple cameras-up-the -weenie but he’s in fine shape. If its caught early, not much to worry about.

    • Bad Tom

      It doesn’t hurt. They have good anesthetic.
      If you’re into sounding….

    • Pat Padrnos

      Best wishes – keep us posted.

    • Todd20036

      Not exactly the same thing, but I had a camera up the bum to check out my poop shoot. When you’re 50, it’s one of those things to do.

      The only thing they found there were my brains.

      Is bladder cancer something that needs to get looked into if there isn’t a family history?

      • JustDucky

        “At this time, no major professional organizations recommend routine screening of the general public for bladder cancer. This is because no screening test has been shown to lower the risk of dying from bladder cancer in people who are at average risk.”

        • netxtown

          I get what they are saying…but if you don’t do the test..then how do you know if all is good…or not? I mean, if i’m gonna croak from cancer, i’d like to have a couple months or so to put the ducks in a row – and hit the bucket list!

          • ChrisMorley

            Bladder cancer is uncommon.
            ‘There are several concerns in developing a rationale for a screening policy. One important factor relates to the number of false positives.
            The home hematuria [microscopic blood in urine] screening test has a false positive rate ranging from 85% to 95% based on the 2 studies. These false positives result in
            invasive, expensive and unnecessary work-up and introduce a significant physical and emotional burden for the patient.’
            = Lots of people have microscopic blood in the urine, caused by all sorts of other things. At present screening does far more harm than good.


          • JustDucky

            You keep an eye out for symptoms. If you have blood in your urine, even if it goes away and isn’t accompanied by pain, you should go in to see your doctor. Also keep an eye out for the following:

            – Having to urinate more often than usual
            – Pain or burning during urination
            – Feeling as if you need to go right away, even when the bladder is not full
            – Having trouble urinating or having a weak urine stream

            And like Chris said, bladder cancer is rare. So while you should absolutely go to see your doctor if you have any of those symptoms, you shouldn’t panic if you have them. It’s much more likely that your symptoms have been caused by a urinary tract infection or an enlarged prostate.

          • netxtown

            whew – got none of those symptoms. I think this is one of those ‘check all we can check’ campaigns. It’s 100% covered by VA – so …I’m ready for my cameo. 🙂

    • Chucktech

      I know it won’t be pleasant. So do you. We both know it has to be done. Hang in there and get it taken care of!

    • HandsomeMrToad

      I actually have done some scientific research related to bladder cancer. Look up uroplakin 3.

  • Tomcat

    Davids character on Mash was Donald Trump before Trump was trump.

    • Other Michael

      No he wasn’t. He was wealthy, and arrogant, but he was also highly skilled and could show empathy and compassion. He was capable of learning and growth. He was a man of significant passions and joy. Steirs took what could have been a one-note character and gave it depth and complexity.

      • I liked that it gave Hawkeye a worthy adversary. Taking on Frank was too easy (another great actor, Larry Linville). It was similar to when the Mary Tyler Moore show brought on Betty White giving Murray someone who could trade barbs on a more level playing field (and with hilarious results).

    • drbrentzenobia

      Major Winchester was a Boston patrician, witty, and highly competent. He was an arrogant snob. Trump is Queens nouveau riche and a buffoonish fraud. They do have the arrogant rich thing in common though.

    • JW Swift

      Major Winchester had redeeming qualities .

      • Man_in_the_mists

        Like the time a soldier was giving another a miserable time because of a stutter. Cue Winchester tearing the first soldier several new ones.

        • Bubba in TX

          And then listening to a taped letter from his sister, who also had a stutter. (Did I remember that right?)

          • Yes, you are. Winchester wasn’t a bad person. He just didn’t want to be there. None of them did. And his haughtiness was played for laughs. It was a fun character and played well from start to finish.

          • Man_in_the_mists

            You remembered it right. Sadly, I couldn’t find a good YouTube clip.

    • ColdCountry

      No, no, no, no!

    • FilmTurtle

      Good grief. NOT AT ALL. Winchester, thanks to great writing and Stiers’ acting, grew and was profoundly changed by his experiences and showed himself capable of deep empathy and loyalty. We need more characters like that on TV (and, well, in life).

  • houstonray

    From his coming out article: “What’s Odgen Stiers’ impetus for coming out now? He’s hoping to settle down with someone and make their romance public.

    “I wish to spend my life’s twilight being just who I am,” he said. “I could claim noble reasons as coming out in order to move gay rights forward, but I must admit it is for far more selfish reasons. Now is the time I wish to find someone, and I do not desire to force any potential partner to live a life of extreme discretion with me.”

    Does anyone know if he had a long term partner/husband? I hope he finally found happiness.

    • Pete Wascher

      nothing mentioned in wikipedia about personal relationships.

      • Scott Carpenter

        Stiers was filming a movie in the little town where I grew up when I was 18. My best friend “met” him, and spent a lot of time with him – friend always denied anything ever happened, and I always believed he was lying through his teeth.

      • e jerry powell

        Wikipedia will not allow that interview/article to be used as a reference regarding Stiers’ sexual preference. Apparently somebody tried.

    • gothambear

      I haven’t seen any mention of his being gay in the obits – such a shame. A very gifted and funny actor and they all act as if he had no personal life or survivors which I hope is not true…

    • KevInPDX

      Yes, he partnered up and lived on the southern Oregon Coast for over 20 years. You’d see him out occasionally at a restaurant in Bandon or Newport. He and partner apparently enjoyed the isolation and slow pace on the coast. He also did some gigs as an orchestra conductor according to the news paper (The Oregonian of old?) so he must have escaped the coast for that.

  • Pat Padrnos

    So enjoyed him on MASH. Great actor and all good person.

    • Ted.OR

      I still choke up at the MASH finale, where Major Winchester attempted to teach the Chinese POW’s to play Mozart on their Chinese instruments, and him being so exasperated at their mistakes. When he later learns that they had been killed in an ambush, he cannot stand to listen to his recording of the “perfect” version, and smashes the record.

      • ColdCountry

        The episode that sticks in my mind is the one where the soldier and aspiring concert pianist lost a hand, and felt he could play no more.

      • cowboyinbrla

        Loretta Swit tells the story of another M*A*S*H plotline, wherein Winchester had loaned a book of poetry to Houlihan, only to demand it back when they had some sort of falling out. On the set, Stiers was well-known for his private nature and nobody, apparently, was allowed to have his personal phone number – a fact over which Swit teased Stiers regularly. In the final episode, Winchester returns the book to Houlihan, who is visibly touched by the gesture; Swit revealed that he’d written his phone number inside the book cover, which made her touched reaction all the more real.

        He was a class act.

  • Todd

    Very sad. I’ve always enjoyed watching his acting. From what I’ve read, he was a genuinely nice person.

  • Steven in Texas

    Goodbye David, thank you for all the laughter and tears over the many years you entertained.

  • Bj Lincoln

    He plays the gay assistant to Fraser’s mom who comes to visit long after she past away. You don’t find out he is gay until the end. It was one of several gay themes shows. I always liked the characters he has played. RIP.

    • Ted.OR

      Another notable role was in Star Trek Next Generation, where he played a scientist on the verge of a breakthrough to save his home planet’s star. Lwaxana Troi falls in love with him, but it is the custom on his home planet to commit ritual euthanasia at age 60 in order to “make room” for the young.

      • KnownDonorDad
      • John30013

        Easily the best “Lwuxana Troi” episode.

        • HandsomeMrToad

          Well, the best SERIOUS one. The one where she and Deanna and Riker get abducted by Ferengi and Picard has to pretend to be jealous and recites Shakespeare in order to get her back, and the one where she keeps interfering with Deanna’s attempt to mediate between Worf and the child-klingon, and the one where she almost marries that boring man but spoils it by showing up to the wedding naked, are at least as good as this one.

          • John30013

            I agree that they all have their charms, but you’re right—”Half a Life” was the best serious one.

            Lwaxana also did a somewhat serious turn in the DS9 episode “The Muse” (in which she marries Odo).

          • HandsomeMrToad

            I never really believed in that thing between them. I’m not sure what made it unbelievable, but it seemed like the writers, and Rene Auberjonois, never really quite nailed down what they wanted his character (Odo) to be.

        • Ted.OR

          It’s definitely a very socially significant episode. Although — hubby and I REALLY love the one where she is “Auntie Mame” to Worf’s son Alexander, and they both teach each other about living. Especially Deanna’s line: “You’re not going to be naked at your own wedding?” But — then she is!

          PS — I want a Betazed wedding!

      • Thank you–I’ve been thinking a lot about that episode too and how the scientist he played had to have faith that the younger people would have to carry on and hopefully complete his work.
        In real life I’m glad that Stiers was able to see significant changes, to be able to fully come out and, I hope, find real happiness, before he left us.

        • Ted.OR

          A year of so ago I read an article about the last decade’s practice that many companies followed of “early retiring” older employees. Officially age discrimination was prohibited, but there were ways around it. Well, the current decade comes around, and those companies have been realizing what a mistake that was.

    • KnownDonorDad
  • JWC

    another “classic” gone so sad

  • Boy Elvis

    Winchester was by far my favorite character on M*A*S*H. To this day I cannot leave a room full of guys without saying, “Gentlemen…”

  • Tempus Fuggit

    He was also very good in the ST:TNG episode, “Half a Life”. Until I read his obituary I didn’t know he was gay.

  • SilasMarner

    RIP David. Loved your work.

  • Jean-Marc in Canada

    He was such a wonderful actor.

  • Kevin Andrews

    Condolences to family & friends. An astounding character is lost.

  • J Ascher

    It’s sad that he passed away. I haven’t heard if he had a partner or companion.

  • Mihangel apYrs

    A man who loved music of the classical kind, among other things . . .

    The worst thing about getting older, the neverending losses

  • KentDean

    He was also one of the best narrators working. As a voice actor myself, I can attest that it’s much more difficult than many may appreciate. R.I.P, Mr. Stiers.

  • JCF

    Wow, too young. MASH is my dad’s (97, whom I live with) favorite show. He watches it almost everyday, multiple eps. Therefore, I live w/ the MASH cast too! Amazing group. Stiers will be missed. RIP.

  • John Lowell

    I am rather late to the game. DOS and I were friends for 25 years. He was funny, generous, knowledgable, political, clever, an impressive autodidact, a gifted actor, director, and storyteller. Saintly? Not even close! But I have never known a more wonderful and hilarious companion.

    • Mihangel apYrs

      you were lucky, and now not so. The only guaranteed outcome of life – yet still worth the pain of loss

  • e jerry powell

    So was he officially out or no?

  • agcons

    A “top of the range Car”? Oh, I’m so impressed. Sign me up!!