David Ogden Stiers, Major Winchester on ‘MASH,’ dies at 75

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.

The actor, with his educated, resonant intonations — though he did not share Major Winchester’s Boston Brahmin accent — was much in demand for narration and voiceover work, and for efforts as the narrator and as of Disney’s enormous hit animated film “Beauty and the Beast,” he shared a Grammy win for best recording for children and another nomination for album of the year.

He voiced Dr. Jumba Jookiba, the evil genius who created Stitch, in 2002’s “Lilo & Stitch” and various spinoffs; once he became part of the Disney family, Stiers went on to do voicework on a large number of movies, made for TV or video content and videogames.

See photos of David Ogden Stiers:

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David Ogden Stiers through the years
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David Ogden Stiers through the years
Alan Alda, US actor, David Ogden Stiers, US actor, Jamie Farr, US actor, and William Christopher, US actor, saluting in a publicity still issued for the US television series 'M*A*S*H', USA, circa 1975. The medical comedy starred Alda as 'Captain Benjamin Franklin 'Hawkeye' Pierce, Ogden Stiers as 'Charles Emerson Winchester III', Farr as 'Maxwell Klinger', and Christopher as 'Father Mulcahy'. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)
Portrait the cast of the television show 'MASH,' mid- to late-1970s, From left American actors Mike Farrell (with light sleeves), David Ogden Stiers (in rear), Alan Alda, Jamie Farr (sitting in foreground), Loretta Swit, William Christopher (in rear), and Harry Morgan. (Photo by CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images)
Jamie Farr, Loretta Swit, David Ogden Stiers, Harry Morgan, Mike Farrell, Alan Alda, and William Christopher in publicity portrait for the film 'M*A*S*H', Circa 1978. (Photo by 20th Century-Fox TV/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - OCTOBER 11: David Ogden Stiers as Al Meyer in the 1985 movie, 'Better Off Dead'. Image is a frame grab. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)
NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 26: CBS Television advertisement as appeared in the February 26, 1983 issue of TV Guide magazine. An ad for the final episode of M*A*S*H (MASH), which broadcast on Monday, February 28, 1983. Featuring William Christopher, Mike Farrell, Loretta Swit, Alan Alda, David Ogden Stiers, Harry Morgan and Jamie Farr. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)
NORTH AND SOUTH - TV Miniseries - Airdates: November 3, 5 through 7, 9 and 10, 1985. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images) DAVID OGDEN STIERS
NORTH AND SOUTH - TV Miniseries - Airdates: November 3, 5 through 7, 9 and 10, 1985. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images) L-R: KIRSTIE ALLEY;ROBERT GUILLAUME;DAVID OGDEN STIERS
CANADA - AUGUST 12: More stairs to climb: Actor David Ogden Stiers was in town filming NBC's Perry Mason: The Case Of The Shooting Star. He plays the prosecutor in four episodes. M A S H made him an international celebrity; a role he does not enjoy. He's anxious to put that particular fame behind him. (Photo by Rick Eglinton/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
PERRY MASON- THE CASE OF THE AVENGING ACE -- Pictured: (l-r) Raymond Burr as Perry Mason, Barbara Hale as Della Street, David Ogden Stiers as D.A. Michael Reston -- (Photo by: Gene Trindl/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK CITY - APRIL 24: Actor David Schramm, actor Kevin Kline, actress Patti LuPone, actor Kevin Spacey and actor David Ogden Stiers attend The Juilliard School's Drama Division's 25th Anniversary Celebration on April 24, 1994 at Lincoln Center in New York City. (photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
274578 02: Actor David Ogden Stiers attends the premiere of 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame' at the Ziegfeld Theater June 20, 1996 in New York City. The animated musical was inspired by Victor Hugo's epic novel and received an Academy Award nomination for Best Music Score. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Liaison)
David Ogden Stiers, Elizabeth Berkley, Woody Allen, Helen Hunt & Charlize Theron (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc)
David Ogden Stiers during 'ATLANTIS: The Lost Empire' Los Angeles Premiere at El Capitan Premiere in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)
TV series creator/producer Gary Baseman, David Ogden Stiers and Kelsey Grammer (Photo by Lee Celano/WireImage for Hollywood Reporter)
David Ogden Stiers, Wallace Shawn, Shaun Fleming, and TV series creator/producer Gary Baseman (Photo by Lee Celano/WireImage for Hollywood Reporter)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - NOVEMBER 28: Cast member David Ogden Stiers poses at the Music Box after party following opening night of Irving Berlin's 'White Christmas' on November 28, 2005 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
Patty Duke (center), Tyne Daly, Mackenzie Astin, David Ogden Stiers, Sean Astin and David Proval (Photo by Jesse Grant/WireImage)
NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 19: David Ogden Stiers speaks at the Christmas Window Unveiling Spectacular at Macy's Herald Square on November 19, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Rob Loud/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MAY 09: Actor David Ogden Stiers arrives at the Academy's 25th Anniversary Screening of 'Beauty And the Beast': A Marc Davis Celebration of Animation at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater on May 9, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Amanda Edwards/WireImage)
Actor David Ogden Stiers attends a special screening and panel discussion of 'Beauty and the Beast' to celebrate the animated film's 25th anniversary, May 9, 2016 at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) in Beverly Hills, California. / AFP / ROBYN BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
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In addition to serving as narrator and as the voice of Cogsworth in “Beauty and the Beast” in 1991, he voiced Governor Ratcliffe and Wiggins in Disney’s 1995 animated effort “Pocahontas” and voiced the Archdeacon in Disney’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” He also contributed the voice of the grandfather for the English-language version of Hayao Miyazaki’s 1992 animation “Porco Rosso” and of Kamaji in Miyazki’s classic “Spirited Away” in 2001. From 2011-15 he recurred on Cartoon Network’s “Regular Show.”

Indeed, it was his voice that earned him his first screen credit — as the announcer in George Lucas’ 1971 film “THX 1138.”

Stiers was also known for the eight Perry Mason TV movies he made between 1986-88 in which his prosecuting attorney invariably lost to Raymond Burr’s Mason, and more recently he had recurred on the USA Network series “The Dead Zone” from 2002-07 as the Rev. Eugene Purdy, the chief antagonist to star Anthony Michael Hall’s Johnny Smith.

In addition Stiers worked repeatedly for director Woody Allen, appearing in “Shadows and Fog,” “Mighty Aphrodite,” “Everybody Says I Love You” and “Curse of the Jade Scorpion” (in which he played a mysterious hypnotist).

On “MASH” Stiers’ Major Winchester was witty where Frank Burns had been vapid — with his Harvard education, a match for Alan Alda’s Hawkeye in the operating room and, unlike Frank, a worthy adversary in the ongoing battle of the pranks in the Swamp. So it was always poignant when an emotional crack opened in his self-satisfied mien.

In the season eight episode “Morale Victory,” Winchester is proud of saving a wounded soldier’s leg, only to learn that the minor injury to the young man’s hand is all that matters to him, as he is a concert pianist. The soldier feels he has no reason for living, but in a powerful performance by Stiers, Winchester provides him with piano music written for a single hand and shows him the empathy necessary to save him.

Another time the audience saw a different side to Stier’s Winchester came in the ninth-season episode in which he swallows his pride and attempts to curry favor with a general who can send him back to the comforts of Tokyo — but in the end, when the general asks him to testify unjustly against Margaret Houlihan — Winchester declares, “I will not — even for a return to that pearl of the Orient Tokyo — lie to protect you while destroying a friend’s career!”

But these are just two examples of fine performances from Stiers during “MASH.” With that series over in 1984, he portrayed writer Cleveland Amory in the 1984 telepic “Anatomy of an Illness,” centering on Norman Cousins as played by Edward Asner, and the next year appeared in a TV remake of “The Bad Seed.”

Stars we lost in 2017:

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Celebrities who died in 2017
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Celebrities who died in 2017

Erin Moran, who is known for her role in TV sitcom "Happy Days," died at the age of 56 after a secret battle with cancer.

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Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner died in his home at the Playboy Mansion of natural causes on September 27. He was 91 years old.

(Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Playboy)

Singer Chester Bennington of Linkin Park committed suicide in July, he was 41 years old.

(Photo by Scott Dudelson/WireImage)

David Cassidy died on November 21 after having been placed in a medically-induced coma. The '70s heartthrob and "Partridge Family" star was 67.

(Photo by Bobby Bank/Getty Images)

Comedian Jerry Lewis died on August 20. He was 91 years old.

(Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images)

Tom Petty, the famed and beloved rocker behind hits like “American Girl” and “Free Fallin,” died in October following a cardiac arrest. He was 66.

(Photo by Dave J Hogan/Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)

Actor Adam West attends the Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders Press Room at New York Comic-Con - Day 1 at Jacob Javits Center on October 6, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images)

Legendary actress Mary Tyler Moore passed away at the age of 80.

(REUTERS)

John Heard, known for his role as the father in the Home Alone films, died on July 21. Some reports say he was 71-years-old, however, others have his age listed as 72.

(Photo by Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic)

Sam Shepard, the Pulitzer-winning playwright and Oscar-nominated actor peacefully passed away at his home in Kentucky in July after a long battle with Lou Gehrig's disease. He was 73.


(REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)

"Touched By an Angel" star Della Reese died at the age of 86 peacefully at her home on November 19.

(Photo by Maury Phillips/WireImage)

Roger Smith, who starred in the series "77 Sunset Strip" and was married to actress Ann-Margret, died Sunday in Sherman Oaks. He was 84.

(Getty)

Gregg Allman, best known for performing in The Allman Brothers Band, passed away at 69.

(Reuters)

Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell died unexpectedly at 52 after he was found in a Detroit hotel room.

(Reuters)

Comedian Don Rickles died at the age of 90 from kidney failure.

(Reuters)

Comedian Charlie Murphy died at 57 from complications stemming from a battle with leukemia.

(Getty)

Roger Moore, a former James Bond star, died after a short battle with cancer at 89.

(Reuters)

Jonathan Demme, the director known for his work on thriller "Silence of the Lambs," died at 73 from esophageal cancer and complications from heart disease.

(Getty)

Roger Ailes, who was at FOX News for two decades before being ousted last year for alleged sexual harassment, died at 77 after suffering a fall at his home.

(Reuters)

Bill Paxton died unexpectedly at age 61 on February 25. 

( REUTERS/Fred Prouser)

AC/DC guitarist and co-founded Malcolm Young died in November at the age of 64 after a three-year battle with dementia.

(Photo by Mick Hutson/Redferns)

Soul singer Cuba Gooding Sr., who is also Cuba Gooding Jr.'s father, died at 72.

(Getty)

Neil Fingleton, "Britain's tallest man" and "Games of Thrones" star died at 36 from heart failure.

 (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

"Battlestar Galactica" star Richard Hatch died at 71. 

(Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images) 

John Hurt, star of "The Elephant Man," died at 77. 

REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett 

Butch Trucks, founding member of The Allman Brothers Band, died at 69.

(Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images)

Actor Miguel Ferrer died from throat cancer at 61.

(Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)

Dick Gautier, known for is role in the Broadway musical 'Bye Bye Birdie' died at 85.

(Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)

Frank Deford, giant of sports journalism, died at 78.

(Photo by Marc Bryan-Brown/WireImage)

Rock 'n' roll legend Chuck Berry, who is known for hits like ''Sweet Little Sixteen" and "Roll Over Beethoven," died at 90 years old.

(Reuters)

Television personality Christopher 'Big Black' Boykin, known for his MTV show "Rob & Big," died at the age of 45.

(Getty)

Dina Merrill, the actress known for movies like "Butterfield 8" and "Operation Petticoat," died at 93.

(Getty)

Frank Pellegrino Sr. (R) died at age 72 following a battle with lung cancer. He was known for his role on "The Sopranos." 

(Getty)

Former pop singer Tommy Page was found dead at 46 in New York City.

(Getty)

"Doll Squad" star Francine York passed away at 80 after a battle with cancer.

(Getty)

Joni Sledge, the "We Are Family" singer, was found dead in her Phoenix home. She was 60.

(Getty)

Jazz legend Al Jarreau died at the age of 76.

(Getty)

Actor Robert Michael Morris died at age 77. His death was confirmed by friend Lisa Kudrow.

(Getty)

Monty Hall, one of the most popular game show hosts in American television died in September at age 96.

(Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

Anne Jeffreys, star of ‘General Hospital’ and Broadway’s ‘Kiss Me Kate,’ died in September at 94.

(Photo by Rodrigo Vaz/FilmMagic)

Barry Dennen, member of the original cast of “Jesus Christ Superstar,” died in September at age 79.

(Photo by Bobby Bank/WireImage)

Famed soul singer Charles Bradley died in September at the age of 68.

(Photo by David A. Smith/Getty Images)

Harry Dean Stanton, the actor known for his roles in "Twin Peaks," "Big Love," "Pretty in Pink" and "Repo Man" died of natural causes in Los Angeles. He was 91.

(Photo by Gabriel Olsen/Getty Images)

Frank Vincent, who had a key role on "The Sopranos" and appeared in a number of Martin Scorsese films, died at age 78.

(Photo by Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images)

Nelsan Ellis, who starred in the HBO series True Blood, died on July 8 from alcohol withdrawal after years of struggling with substance abuse. He was 39 years old.

(Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)

Blake Heron, the child actor who starred in 1996's "Shiloh," died at age 35.

(Photo by Utopia Pictures/Getty Images)

Comedian Shelley Berman, who was famous as a "sit-down" comedian and later as Larry David's dad on "Curb Your Enthusiasm," died at the age of 92.

(Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)

Dick Gregory, the trailblazing comic and civil rights activist whose unique brand of comedy combined cutting wit and contemporary headlines, died in August at the age of 84.

(Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)

Martin Landau, the all-purpose actor known for his Oscar-winning performance in Ed Wood, died in July. He was 89.

(REUTERS/Danny Moloshok)

Gary DeCarlo, the lead singer of Steam, died in June at the age of 75.

(Photo by Bobby Bank/Getty Images)

Michael Nyqvist, who starred in the Swedish film version of "The Girl With Dragon Tattoo," died after a battle with lung cancer. He was 56.

(HENRIK MONTGOMERY/AFP/Getty Images)

Prodigy, who made up one half of Mobb Deep, died in June. He was 42.

(Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)

Comedian Ralphie May was found dead in his Las Vegas home in early October. He died of cardiac arrest at the age of 45.

(Photo by Barry Brecheisen/Getty Images for Pollstar)

"Benson" actor Robert Guillaume died on October 24 at the age of 89 following a long battle with breast cancer.

(Photo by Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic)

Legendary New Orleans musician Fats Domino died of natural causes at the age of 89 at the end of October.

(Photo by James Crump/WireImage)

Former "Veronica Mars" actor Brad Bufanda died of a suspected suicide at the age of 34 at the beginning of November.

(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Rising rapper Lil Peep was found dead in his tour bus on November 15 in Arizona. He was 21. Officials are still determining his cause of death, which is suspected to be an accidental overdose.

(Photo by Scott Dudelson/Getty Images)

Wendy Pepper, who was a fan-favorite on "Project Runway," died peacefully surrounded by family at the age of 53 in mid-November. No cause of death was given.

(Photo by Jonathan Grassi /Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)

Jim Nabors, widely adored for playing Gomer Pyle on "The Andy Griffith Show," passed away in November 2017 at age 87.

(Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
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In the busy year of 1985, Stiers also played the father to John Cusack’s hero in the ’80s teen movie “Better Off Dead” and the bitter enemy to Peter O’Toole’s eccentric scientist in “Creator,” while also appearing in ABC miniseries “North and South” as Congressman Sam Greene.

The next year would bring more work in the form of “North and South Book II” — and Stiers would begin a long series of “Perry Mason” telepics in which he played the always-fated-t0-lose prosecuting attorney. There were two of these NBC movies in 1986 and eight overall through 1988.

Squeezed in there was another TV movie, “J. Edgar Hoover,” in which Stiers played President Franklin D. Roosevelt. (Hoover was played by Treat Willliams.) Stiers reprised the role of FDR in the highly regarded, Emmy-winning 1989 telepic “Day One,” about the Manhattan Project. In another esteemed telepic that year, “The Final Days,” about the Nixon White House, the actor played Gen. Alexander Haig.

In addition to his work for Woody Allen, he played a wealthy railroad magnate in the live action Disney film “Iron Will” in 1994, a judge in the 1995 CIA thriller “Bad Company,” starring Ellen Barkin and Laurence Fishburne, and appeared in Frank Darabont’s Jim Carrey vehicle “The Majestic” in 2001.

The actor also continued appearing on television, guesting on shows including “Murder, She Wrote” and recurring on ABC’s “Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place” in 1998 as the eccentric Mr. Bauer, who relayed the plots of movies as if they were stories of what had happened to him. He was a series regular on the brief CBS series “Love & Money” in 1999. In 2003 he memorably guested on an episode of “Frasier” in which Stiers played a former research associate of Frasier’s who is so like him and Niles, it has Martin questioning whether he is really their father.

David Allen Ogden Stiers was born not in New England but in Peoria, Illinois, though the family moved to Eugene, Oregon, while he was in high school. He briefly attended the University of Oregon, began his professional career at the Actors Workshop in San Francisco, the California Shakespeare Festival and improv group the Committee before heading East and, starting in 1968, attending New York’s Juilliard and then joining at launch the Houseman Acting Company, where he was mentored by John Houseman.

Stiers made his Broadway debut with simultaneous 1973 revivals of Chekhov’s “The Three Sisters,” in which he played Kulygin; “The Beggar’s Opera,” in which he played Peachum; “Measure for Measure,” in which he played the Duke; and Moliere’s “Scapin,” in which he played Geronte. Kevin Kline and Patti LuPone were also among those who appeared in the three productions. In 1974 he appeared in “Ulysses in Nighttown,” which was briefly staged on the Rialto starring Zero Mostel. Also that year he had a role in the original Stephen Schwartz musical “The Magic Show.”

In 1971 he made his first bigscreen appearance, in the Jack Nicholson-directed “Drive, He Said.”

He soon had a recurring role on the brief Barnard Hughes sitcom “Doc” and guested on “Kojak,” “Charlie’s Angels,” “Phyllis,” “Mary Tyler Moore” and “Rhoda” before being cast as Major Winchester on “MASH.” Even during his years on the hit show, he appeared in movies including “Oh! God,” starring John Denver and George Burns; “The Cheap Detective,” with Peter Falk; ventriloquist horror movie “Magic” with Anthony Hopkins; and TV movies including “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do” (1979), “The Oldest Living Graduate” (1980), “Father Damien: The Leper Priest” (1980) and “The Day the Bubble Burst.” Stiers had a prominent role in the 1983 “Great Performances” adaptation of musical “The Innocents Abroad,” based on the humorous travelogue by Mark Twain.

In 2009 he returned to Broadway after an absence of many decades to appear in “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas.” The following year he appeared in a Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles production of “Much Ado About Nothing.”

Stiers had his musical side, conducting orchestras around the world.

In 2009, the actor revealed publicly that he was gay. He told ABC News at the time that he had hidden his sexuality for a long time because so much of his income had been derived from family-friendly programming, and coming out thus might have had repercussions in the past.

Pictured: (Harry Morgan, Loretta Swit, David Ogden Stiers)

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