M*A*S*H: Harry Morgan Dies at 96; Farewell Colonel Potter

Harry Morgan from MASHCharacter actor Harry Morgan, beloved for his roles on both M*A*S*H and Dragnet, has died at the age of 96. He passed away at his home in Los Angeles from unknown causes but had recently been treated for pneumonia. His son Charles, a lawyer in Los Angeles, confirmed his death.

Born Harry Bratsberg in Detroit, he worked on stage before making his way to Hollywood in 1942. He originally used the screen name Henry Morgan but changed it to Harry in the 1950s to avoid confusion with radio’s Henry Morgan. He appeared in more than 100 films throughout his career, often playing bad guys and sidekicks.

On the small screen, he played numerous guest roles and was a regular on several TV shows, including Pete and Gladys, December Bride, The Richard Boone Show, Kentucky Jones, The D.A., Hec Ramsey, and Blacke’s Magic. He was most recognized however for his work on two other series; Dragnet and M*A*S*H.

On Dragnet, he played Officer Bill Gannon as slightly less-serious cop when compared to Jack Webb’s always-by-the-book Sgt. Joe Friday. He returned to role as Captain Bill Gannon in the 1987 film comedy Dragnet, opposite Dan Aykroyd and Tom Hanks.

For M*A*S*H, Morgan replaced McLean Stevenson as the commander of the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital unit in Korea. He initially guest-starred as a crazy Major but Morgan played Colonel Sherman T. Potter from 1975 until the show’s big finish in 1983. He reprised the role for two seasons for the less-successful spin-off AfterMASH.

He was married twice and had four children with his first wife, Eileen. She died in 1985 after they had been together for 45 years. One of Morgan’s sons, Daniel, died in 1989. Harry Morgan is survived by three sons, eight grandchildren, and his second wife, Barbara Bushman.

What do you think? How will you best remember Harry Morgan? Are there any particular M*A*S*H scenes that come to mind?

Canceled and renewed TV show

9 Comments · Read them below or add one

  1. Bethany says

    I never had a living grandfather, and for whatever reason I kind of imagined Col. Potter as mine when I was young. RIP Harry Morgan.

  2. Teri says

    The only actor I ever asked for an auto graph (via fan mail, something I’d never ordinarily do) Now I see why I didn’t get one.

    However, on the upside, I can publically share with newer generations what I told him –as well as asking for his (above mentioned). I said I loved ‘Inherit the Wind’ as the judge in the true life story about the school teacher who, by standing by his convictions, gave all Americans… and indirectly to all people, the right to stand by theirs.

    • Zabster says

      Read “Summer For The Gods”
      Scopes never actually taught evolution in schools. He was just a guinea pig to test the law. But I love both versions of the movie. Except for the tacky love story on the 1st one.

  3. says

    Another great one gone… How many more losses shall we suffer in the coming years? It’s so sad. I still vividly remember him in M*A*S*H and many other movies and TV shows. I believe he will fondly be remembered by all those who laughed with him or cried with him. His sharp quips will live long after him, but the man will no longer be among us. Rest in peace Harry, ehm Colonel Potter… rest at ease…

  4. Kathleen Harris says

    Henry Morgan was born Harry Bratsberg in Muskegon, MI, not Detroit. He graduated from Muskegon High School. I lived there during his MASH days and we were proud to say “Hey, did you know he lived here in Muskegon”

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