Sunday, 5 August 2007
Actors I thought were dead but (apparently) aren't: Harry Morgan
I was working my way through the web recently, looking for Gods-know-what, when I came upon a page listing actors 'you thought were dead' but who apparently aren't.
One of these was Harry Morgan.
And I thought, cool.
Harry Morgan is probably best known to TV audiences as Col. Sherman Potter in M*A*S*H, replacing McLean Stevenson as commanding officer of the 4077th. To older viewers, Morgan will be remembered as Officer Bill Gannon, Joe Friday's partner in 'Dragnet', a role he reprised in the Dan Aykroyd/Tom Hanks movie of the same name in 1987.
In between times, Morgan played character roles in movies stretching back to the forties such as The Ox-Bow Incident, State Fair and The Big Clock, and in later years could usually be found playing figures such as town mayors, sheriffs and the like, in both comic and straight roles.
But for me, Harry Morgan's best role was as Col. Potter.
A decorated officer who had served in both World Wars and Korea, a family man, a dedicated surgeon and a man who not so much commanded respect but achieved it by action and example, Sherman Tecumseh Potter of Hannibal, Missouri was a noble character.
Beset on all sides by the North Koreans, Klinger's wardrobe, the antics of his surgical staff and 'military intelligence', Potter somehow managed to rise above it and hold everything together.
There's a scene in the final episode of M*A*S*H where Hawkeye and BJ, in their farewell to the Colonel, announce they have something for him.
"It's not much," says Hawkeye, "but it's from the heart."
At this point the two doctors come to attention and salute.
Gets me every time.
Born in 1915, Harry Morgan is now 92, and presumably retired.
I wish him well.