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You put too much SWOOSH, in the T!
December 7, 2011 9:30 AM   Subscribe

Harry Morgan, best remembered at Officer Bill Gannon, and Colonel Sherman T. Potter, has closed his last case, and ridden off, into the sunset.
posted by timsteil (124 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
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posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:31 AM on December 7, 2011


So long Col Potter.

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posted by drewbage1847 at 9:31 AM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


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posted by Bromius at 9:31 AM on December 7, 2011


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posted by mikelieman at 9:31 AM on December 7, 2011


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posted by Mental Wimp at 9:33 AM on December 7, 2011


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posted by tommasz at 9:33 AM on December 7, 2011


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posted by dismas at 9:35 AM on December 7, 2011


Aww, General Stilton from the cat from outer space.
posted by Lord_Pall at 9:35 AM on December 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


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posted by pearlybob at 9:36 AM on December 7, 2011


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posted by Aquaman at 9:38 AM on December 7, 2011


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posted by usonian at 9:39 AM on December 7, 2011


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posted by OmieWise at 9:39 AM on December 7, 2011


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posted by ahimsakid at 9:40 AM on December 7, 2011


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posted by leviathan3k at 9:40 AM on December 7, 2011


Aww I loved Col Potter.
posted by callmejay at 9:41 AM on December 7, 2011


MeFi's own.

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posted by Dano St at 9:41 AM on December 7, 2011


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posted by darkstar at 9:43 AM on December 7, 2011


shiverin' shinbones!

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posted by bondcliff at 9:44 AM on December 7, 2011


Remembering the shooting-the-crushed-jeep scene from MASH...
posted by Old'n'Busted at 9:44 AM on December 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


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posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:45 AM on December 7, 2011


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posted by killy willy at 9:45 AM on December 7, 2011


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posted by strixus at 9:46 AM on December 7, 2011


Oh no! I still consider Dragnet to be total TV comfort food. Spent many a lonely night as a teenager watching it on Nick at Nite.

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posted by mykescipark at 9:46 AM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


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posted by dirtdirt at 9:48 AM on December 7, 2011


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If thinking his arrest for domestic abuse is noteworthy - and having it diminish my opinion of him - makes me a dick, so be it.

My mom would say, "Bring that up in month or two, why don't you?"
posted by philip-random at 9:48 AM on December 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


I first became aware of Harry (and his great comic timing) in the Support Your Local Sheriff/Gunfighter movies, which are huge faves of mine. But like many, I grew to love him as Col Potter. He's one of those actors that it's just comforting to see on the screen. Thanks to syndication we'll always be able to find that comfort.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 9:49 AM on December 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


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posted by immlass at 9:53 AM on December 7, 2011


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posted by lordrunningclam at 9:53 AM on December 7, 2011


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posted by Oh OK HA HA at 9:54 AM on December 7, 2011


Such a great and kind character, Potter.
posted by Glinn at 9:58 AM on December 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


In addition to Col. Potter, he also played General Bartford Hamilton Steele (that's three E's...not all in a row) in a very funny Season 3 episode.
posted by rocket88 at 9:58 AM on December 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


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posted by COD at 9:59 AM on December 7, 2011


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posted by MissySedai at 9:59 AM on December 7, 2011


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posted by clarknova at 10:01 AM on December 7, 2011


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posted by rahnefan at 10:02 AM on December 7, 2011


I think it is important to separate the man from his roles. His kindly Col Potter may just mean he is a good actor.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:02 AM on December 7, 2011


Hey, 96 years ain't too shabby. Good for him. I was a huge Dragnet fan as a kid, then later M*A*S*H (until it got too sappy). Happy trails, Colonel Potter, and thanks! (rocket88, that's one of my [+] episodes... so funny!)
posted by heyho at 10:03 AM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


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I would watch Mash on every rerun channel, even after having watched it in black and white the first time around.
posted by infini at 10:08 AM on December 7, 2011


[Folks, MetaTalk for the Same Old Obit Discussion.]
posted by jessamyn at 10:13 AM on December 7, 2011


He was in movies from 1942 - 1999. Did he write down his longevity secrets anywhere like the folks in the David Brooks post?
posted by bukvich at 10:13 AM on December 7, 2011


I'm amazed he was still alive! A good run.
posted by JHarris at 10:14 AM on December 7, 2011


He also did a lot of radio back in the day, including episodes of Dragnet (though not usually as a cop).
posted by JanetLand at 10:15 AM on December 7, 2011


Aw, horse hockey!
posted by steef at 10:16 AM on December 7, 2011 [9 favorites]


Busload of bushwah!
posted by orme at 10:18 AM on December 7, 2011


How the heck did he get to be 96?! Oh, right *sigh*

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@--->---
posted by Melismata at 10:20 AM on December 7, 2011


I'm amazed he was still alive!

I had the same thought. One of my favorite bits on Dragnet was listening to Officer Gannon describe his wife's cooking. One time he heartburn because she put to much curry powder in the New England boiled dinner (or perhaps corned beef hash). Clearly we both had the same culinary tastes.
posted by TedW at 10:21 AM on December 7, 2011


One of the biggest belly laughs I ever had was the episode where Colonel Potter got fed up with Hawkeye and BJ, and made them both camp morale officers. Of course morale subsequently plunges, causing Potter to deadpan at one point, "I'd have been here sooner but I stopped to watch the people dancing in the streets".

Thanks for the laughs. A great cinematic presence.
posted by stinkycheese at 10:21 AM on December 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


_*_*_*_
posted by m@f at 10:22 AM on December 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


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posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:27 AM on December 7, 2011


Such excellent comic timing. I enjoyed every role I've ever seen him perform.
Here's a tiptoe throughthe tulips, for you, sir.



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posted by blurker at 10:30 AM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Abyssinia, Harry.

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posted by HumanComplex at 10:30 AM on December 7, 2011 [8 favorites]


Ah horsepuckey!
posted by hal9k at 10:30 AM on December 7, 2011


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posted by calamari kid at 10:31 AM on December 7, 2011


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posted by Thorzdad at 10:34 AM on December 7, 2011


Oh, this makes me sad. We share a birthday (not year), and I always silently gave a little nod to Morgan on April 10th. He was good in everything he did, really. The first non-Colonel Potter role I saw him in was as the quiet goon in The Big Clock (1948). He had an excellent glower.

RIP....
posted by but no cigar at 10:34 AM on December 7, 2011


"You dear, sweet man. I'll never forget you." (Maj. Margaret Houlihan)

True words.

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posted by scblackman at 10:35 AM on December 7, 2011 [8 favorites]


He was proof to me that some people never die. Which means...
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 10:35 AM on December 7, 2011


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posted by pointystick at 10:39 AM on December 7, 2011


Coincidentally enough, I was just watching a re-run of a Twilight Zone (the newer one) episode with Harry Morgan in it apparently just as you posted this. He really was a fantastic actor and I'll always remember him as Col Potter. He led a great life and brought smiles to a great many people. We should all be so blessed.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 10:40 AM on December 7, 2011


Even though he and Jack Webb were best known as crimefighters, they first worked together as thugs in Appointment With Danger.

Joe? What'd I ever do to you, Joe?

posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:41 AM on December 7, 2011


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Seriously, I'm a MASH fanatic. The show fascinates me in part because the changes in the cast were nearly always improvements. He was the greatest of those changes.
posted by Goofyy at 10:41 AM on December 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


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posted by Gridlock Joe at 10:42 AM on December 7, 2011


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posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 10:45 AM on December 7, 2011


It kind of seems strange to me, as the mother of seven and nine year old daughters, that one of my favorite shows as a kid was M*A*S*H. And long before I was their age, too--I can remember watching it in a house we moved out of when I was four, and I also remember watching it multiple times a week, the syndicated reruns and then the current episodes, through the end of the series run. The filthy jokes, the sometimes all too serious depictions of war and loss...it's funny, but I can't imagine my kids being interested in the show, much less watching it without being totally freaked out half the time. I can't believe my parents let me watch it at all, but I'm glad they did.

But be that as it may, Colonel Potter was a major part of my life for as long as I can remember. I don't think there are any television characters that will have an impact on my kids like my various TV parents had on me. It's probably for the best, my kids have real parents who are more accessible to them than mine were to me.
posted by padraigin at 10:48 AM on December 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


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posted by Lynsey at 10:50 AM on December 7, 2011


He loved to go swimmin' with bow-legged women and swim between their legs.

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posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:50 AM on December 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


I grew up watching M*A*S*H when I was a kid in elementary school. I still am glued to the TV whenever I happen to catch an episode.

"Well, boys, it would be hard to call what we've been through fun, but I'm sure glad we went through it together. You boys always managed to give me a good laugh right when I needed it most. Never forget the time you dropped Winchester's drawers in the O.R. 'Course I had to pretend I was mad at ya, but inside I was laughing to beat all hell."

On previewing the page, I couldn't help but hear the post being read in the loudspeaker announcer's voice.
posted by xedrik at 10:54 AM on December 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


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I just got (finally!) the MASH DVD boxed set and had been watching the extras over the weekend. I mused how wonderful it was he was still around and that he was only a few years from 100. I thought how the laughter must have helped him live such a long life.

And now this. :-(
posted by grubi at 10:56 AM on December 7, 2011


But first, a number.
posted by JanetLand at 10:56 AM on December 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


His scene in The Ox Bow Incident, where Henry Fonda reads out the letter, and Morgan just watches -- one of the best in all of film. And Fonda isn't even really seen it it, but Harry is. Powerful stuff.

Godspeed, sir.
posted by Capt. Renault at 10:57 AM on December 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


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posted by oonh at 11:01 AM on December 7, 2011


I have the MASH box set, every episode, and it gives you the option of turning off the laugh track (which is the way it was originally broadcast in England). It is the bleakest commentary on war you would ever want to see that way. The way the characters just look at each other while the laugh track is usually covering the pause is a stunning thing to watch. *That's* when you realize (if you didn't already), that it was about VietNam, not Korea. Yes, there are still some laughs, but they come from you, not a cue, and the show itself becomes more a drama, than comedy. If you have the chance, I highly suggest trying it sans laugh track.
posted by timsteil at 11:02 AM on December 7, 2011 [11 favorites]


I still quote, from time to time, Col. Potter, from one of the episodes where Gwen Verdon & Co came to visit the camp. She pours him some whisky and upon sipping it he says:

"There's not enough 'O's in 'smooooooooooooth' to describe this."
posted by grubi at 11:06 AM on December 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


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posted by kinnakeet at 11:08 AM on December 7, 2011


"M*A*S*H" and "Dragnet" aside, Morgan had tons of great roles over the years. Having said that, "M*A*S*H" is sui generis -- no show like it before or after. I was glued to that show in my adolescenet years, and still am to a certain extent even though I've seen almost every episode like a hundred times. Hard to imagine anyone playing that particular role other than Harry Morgan. I admit that I've always preferred the Colonel Potter version of "M*A*S*H" to the Henry Blake (McLean Stevenson, who died in 1996) incarnation, even though the Blake unit was way more like the 4077th of the original anarchic Robert Altman movie.

If you have the chance, I highly suggest trying it sans laugh track.

I couldn't agree more. The mandated laugh track on the show is horrible.
posted by blucevalo at 11:09 AM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I couldn't agree more. The mandated laugh track on the show is horrible.

I dunno. I find the mandated pauses for the laugh track (when you don't have the laugh track on) to be grating.
posted by grubi at 11:11 AM on December 7, 2011


I loved watching him on MASH. And in so many other roles. I remember him most as Col. Potter. "Never insult seven men when all you have is a six shooter." :)

His obit notes that he had three children, eight grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. Wow.

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posted by zarq at 11:18 AM on December 7, 2011


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posted by djeo at 11:18 AM on December 7, 2011


They list some "Potter Exclamations" here...

What in the name of Beelzebub...

Pigeon pellets!

Great Caesar's Salad!

Cow cookies!

Horse hockey!

Road apples!

Mule muffins!

Busload of bushwah!

Hell bells!

Crock of beans!

Mule fritters!

Monkey muffins!

Buffalo bagels!

Buffalo chips!

Hot mustard!

Hot sausage!

Pigeon pellets!

Pony pucks!

Beaver biscuits!

Bull cookies!

Pig feathers!

Jumpin' jompers!

Sufferin' saddlesoap!

Sufferin' sheepdip!

Great Caesar's Ghost!

Great Mother McCree!

Where in the name of Carrie's Corset...

What in the name of Sweet Fanny Adams

What in the name of Marco "BLESSED" Polo...

What in the name of Samuel Hill...

What in the name of George Armstrong Custer...

Holy hemostat!

Jumping Jehoshaphat!

The next person who's nice to me dies is going to die with boots on. Mine!

posted by zarq at 11:23 AM on December 7, 2011 [10 favorites]


I don't think my DVDs have the option. Not sure if I'd like it. See, for me, another huge part of what makes MASH so special is the emotional dynamics of being taken from gut-wrenching drama to light laughter, perhaps more than once, in such an amazingly short time. It just blows me away what that show did with so few minutes.

I never saw the show until Season 3, originally. I was in a military hospital at the time, and it was quite popular. Now, hooked for life. It nearly justified television, all by itself.
posted by Goofyy at 11:23 AM on December 7, 2011


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posted by Joey Michaels at 11:37 AM on December 7, 2011


Does this mean Klinger finally gets his Section 8?
posted by JaredSeth at 11:39 AM on December 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Goodbye, Farewell and Amen.
posted by spilon at 11:41 AM on December 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


Colonel Potter was one of the Last of the Horse Soldiers. And Gannon was one of the Last of the Good Cops (but with Jack Webb playing Bad Cop who wasn't so bad). Some great character actors get the best characters.

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posted by oneswellfoop at 11:50 AM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Having a pinochle sandwich in honor of Offc. Gannon.
posted by dr_dank at 12:00 PM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


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posted by ZeusHumms at 12:00 PM on December 7, 2011


Nice headline...

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posted by Jughead at 12:08 PM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


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posted by magstheaxe at 12:20 PM on December 7, 2011


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Years ago, I was watching MASH with my father, a theater professor. It was the episode where Radar gives Col. Potter the horse for his birthday. My dad's comment: "Who would have thought the old man could act?"
posted by Gelatin at 12:27 PM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


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posted by Abbril at 12:32 PM on December 7, 2011


Awh. Sniff.
posted by dejah420 at 12:34 PM on December 7, 2011


In the "Cringe" episode of This American Life, Ira Glass recalls interviewing the cast of MASH, including Harry Morgan, and the gracious way that Morgan replied to Glass' tactless questions:
Also horrifying on these [interview] tapes are questions whose sheer rudeness I was simply too young and ignorant to understand. . . . Asking Harry Morgan, the great character actor who played Colonel Potter on the show, and who had been on countless TV shows since the beginning of the medium, this question.
Ira Glass: It seems like in most of your roles, you're always there, but you're never the lead. You're never the center. Why is that?
Harry Morgan: Well, I don't know. Some people just sort of fall into that category. I think all my life I've been a supporting character.
It didn't occur to the 20-year-old me what it might mean to spend decades as an actor, doing fine, but not being offered leading man parts. Oblivious, I pressed on.
Ira Glass: You must get the offers. You must-- you've been around.
Harry Morgan: No, nobody's offered me the lead in a show.
At that point, even I figure it out.
Ira Glass: What makes a-- I'm changing the subject. What makes a successful television show?
Again, he is unfailingly gracious.
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posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 1:01 PM on December 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


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posted by Splunge at 1:31 PM on December 7, 2011


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posted by Tiresias at 1:42 PM on December 7, 2011


Sorry to hear about this. He reprised his role as Gannon in an episode of The Simpsons.

Gannon: {How does it happen, Joe?}
Friday: {How does what happen?}
Gannon: {How does a sweet young lady mortgage her future for a bunch
of scraggly ideals and greasy-haired promises?}
Friday: {Maybe she thought the war in southeast Asia was so immoral,
her end justified the means.}
Gannon: {Gee, Joe, you haven't been the same since your son went crazy
in Vietnam.}
Friday: {It's a pain that never ends.}
-- The "Dragnet" theme plays, "Mother Simpson"

posted by evilcolonel at 1:42 PM on December 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


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posted by MelanieL at 2:10 PM on December 7, 2011


You never forget your first Potter. ;)
I was born the day after the episode where Henry Blake was killed. So Potter was always in charge when M*A*S*H was on when I grew up. Only in reruns did I start to see the first few seasons.

As a young kid, I always imagined that when my Dad was injured in Vietnam, that he got to go to a kind of place like M*A*S*H. Of course, that was back when I thought that men went into the Army before they became Dads, like some sort of prerequisite.

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posted by luckynerd at 2:17 PM on December 7, 2011


Capt. Renault mentions his role in "The Ox-Bow Incident". Well, let me also bring up Harry Morgan's role in "The Ox-Bow Incident". A truly great movie, a truly great Western, a film that ought to be required viewing for all Americans.
posted by Guy Smiley at 3:16 PM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


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posted by bz at 3:38 PM on December 7, 2011


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posted by theora55 at 4:05 PM on December 7, 2011


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posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 4:18 PM on December 7, 2011


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posted by twidget at 4:40 PM on December 7, 2011


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posted by Ber at 5:14 PM on December 7, 2011


Does anyone else here remember him as Pete in Pete and Gladys? I loved that show.
posted by rmmcclay at 5:58 PM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


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posted by Ranucci at 7:17 PM on December 7, 2011


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posted by snsranch at 7:28 PM on December 7, 2011


R*I*P
posted by New Frontier at 8:30 PM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


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posted by Snyder at 8:33 PM on December 7, 2011


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posted by LobsterMitten at 8:58 PM on December 7, 2011


Like Abe Vigoda, he was one of those actors who was old as long as I can remember, even as a kid---and I'm not young.
posted by sourwookie at 9:08 PM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I grew up watching M*A*S*H and Colonel Potter is still one of my favorite t.v. characters. I could and have watched its episodes over and over again, and it's still hard for me to pass up an episode when it's on the air.
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posted by vespertine at 9:16 PM on December 7, 2011


Donkey donuts!

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posted by jonp72 at 10:11 PM on December 7, 2011


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posted by Elly Vortex at 4:58 AM on December 8, 2011


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posted by double bubble at 5:10 AM on December 8, 2011


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posted by humanfont at 5:48 AM on December 8, 2011


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posted by Smart Dalek at 6:33 AM on December 8, 2011


My obscure memory of Morgan is his post-M*A*S*H commercial career where apparently his colorful "horse hockey" exclamation was too much for the breakfast cereal he was advertising and it was pulled very quickly from t.v. ... or possibly just dubbed to make it more family friendly.

i, personally, thought that truly was a load of "horse hockey" to be that sensitive!

a genuine 'good guy'

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posted by kuppajava at 8:37 AM on December 8, 2011


Old'N'Busted: Remembering the shooting-the-crushed-jeep scene from MASH…

That's a call-back to a Bill Mauldin WWII cartoon. His son sells t-shirts with the cartoon to benefit wounded soldiers now at http://billmauldin.com/store. (Yes, I have one. I love it.)
posted by wenestvedt at 9:24 AM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


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Thanks Harry Morgan. You made an impression on so many. You will be missed.
posted by The Violet Cypher at 10:49 AM on December 8, 2011


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posted by Not The Stig at 11:41 AM on December 8, 2011


Never met him, of course, but he seemed like a real nice guy. Then I read on his Wikipedia article he had apparently beaten his second wife, so assuming this isn't one of those "only true on Wkipedia" things, that's a pretty serious blot on what is otherwise a pretty stellar career.

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posted by Effigy2000 at 2:46 PM on December 8, 2011


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He was interviewed for the Archive of American Television in April 2004, and said of Col. Potter: “He was firm. He was a good officer and he had a good sense of humor. I think it’s the best part I ever had. I loved playing Colonel Potter."

Goodbye, Farewell and Amen
posted by arcticseal at 11:32 PM on December 8, 2011


Having a pinochle sandwich in honor of Offc. Gannon.
posted by dr_dank


I can't find this online anywhere for the life of me, but please tell me someone else remembers the Dragnet scene where Gannon and Friday are going to be out on a stake out or something, and Gannon pulls out a tackle box, that is full of all his" necessities". Couple of sandwiches in the well, hard boiled eggs in one slot, mustard in another, some tabasco, napkins etc. Just the way he goes through and takes inventory of every item still cracks me up. I can still hear him say...

"Well, don't ya see Joe? You've got to PLAN for these things."
posted by timsteil at 7:34 PM on December 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Then I read on his Wikipedia article he had apparently beaten his second wife, so assuming this isn't one of those "only true on Wkipedia" things, that's a pretty serious blot on what is otherwise a pretty stellar career.

Effigy, AFAIK, that is true, and regrettable. There was never any substantial report about whether he was in his cups, or suffering from things very old people suffer from at the moment. But he did his time as a very old man by way of a mandated class on domestic violence, and somehow I think regardless of the stellar career behind him, he might have felt a greater shame over it than any of us could lay on him now.

He was like my old man to me. Kind, wise and funny when you would least expect it.

I would like to think his last words were

"C'mon Sophie. You can step on his hat if you want."
posted by timsteil at 10:39 PM on December 9, 2011


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