Mash Actors Who Died Without You Knowing
2023/07/27

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Some television shows just stand the test of time. Think "General Hospital," "Grey's Anatomy," and "Law & Order: SVU" — but that list wouldn't be complete without "M*A*S*H." The long-running comedy series about a medical unit operating in Korea aired from 1972 until 1983, and with its 11-year run, brought humor, depth, and war-time reflection to the screen.

While a number of characters came and went from the show, "M*A*S*H" primarily followed the experience of Dr. Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce, who was drafted as a surgeon and stationed at the 4077 Mobile Army Surgical Hospital. His general distaste for authority, Army regulations, and the damage associated with war served in direct opposition to the environment in which he found himself — he was, without a doubt, the world's worst soldier and the Army's finest doctor.

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Hawkeye was brought to life by famed actor Alan Alda, who, as of this publication, is still living. But, unfortunately, a number of Alda's "M*A*S*H" co-stars have died, including the actors behind beloved characters such as Colonel Sherman Potter and Father Francis Mulcahy. Here are the "M*A*S*H" actors we've sadly lost.

David Ogden Stiers, who brought class and style to M*A*S*H as Major Winchester, died in 2018

Everyone cheered when Major Frank Burns was replaced by Major Charles Emerson Winchester III, played by the extraordinarily talented actor David Ogden Stiers.

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Winchester was aptly known for his lavish lifestyle, his love of music, and — when he was willing to show it — his humanity and understanding. Sadly, Stiers died in 2018 from cancer, as noted by The Hollywood Reporter.

Loretta Swit, who played Major Margaret Houlihan on the show, described Stiers as "his own person, but he loved and adored us as we did him." One of Stiers' closest on-set friends was Mike Farrell, who played Captain B. J. Hunnicutt. Farrell recalled that Stiers was similar to his character, Winchester, in that he loved classical music — Stiers would often suggest musical pieces for Farrell to listen to in hopes of sharing his passion.

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"One time he had me listen to a piece and walked away. When he came back, he saw there were tears in my eyes and he said, 'A-ha! You're not so dead. You just have to be reawakened,'" Farrell said. 

Stiers is sorely missed by everyone who knew him.

Edward Winter, who played the ridiculous Colonel Flagg on M*A*S*H, died in 2001

Throughout its time on the air, "M*A*S*H" brought in a number of regular guest stars, and no one was as ridiculous and entertaining as Colonel Flagg, brought to life by the actor Edward Winter. Flagg's unorthodox means of getting information out of people almost always backfired — just think of the time when he thought Hawkeye and Colonel Potter were in charge of a Communist ring because they played cards with South Korean leaders.

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Sadly, Winter, who had Parkinson's disease, died at the age of 63, as noted by The New York Times.

Before his time on "M*A*S*H," Winter was a stage actor who worked primarily in San Francisco and New York. He starred in shows including "Galileo" and "The Country Wide" and made his Broadway debut in the musical "Cabaret" in 1966, a performance which earned him a Tony Award nomination. As Flagg, Winter brought a certain amount of hilarity, confidence, and misplaced know how, but every time he "exited like the wind" or showed up in a disguise, viewers knew they were in for a treat.

The lovely Nurse Margie on M*A*S*H was played by Marcia Strassman, who died in 2014

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Marcia Strassman played the beloved Nurse Margie on M*A*S*H," a late-career move for the actress who also played the mom in one of our favorite classic childhood films, "Honey I Shrunk the Kids." Sadly, she died at home in Sherman Oaks, California from breast cancer in 2014 at age 66, as noted by Deadline, seven years after first being diagnosed with the disease.

"M*A*S*H" served as a redefining aspect of Strassman's career as an actress — after taking some time away from her career, her first role back on the screen was as Margie, who was often seen alongside Alan Alda's Hawkeye.

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She was, without question, a wonderful addition to the show, and it's heartwarming to know that "M*A*S*H" served as such a boost to her acting career. "She had more friends than anyone in the world," Julie Strassman, the actress's sister, said after her death.

Leslie Nielsen, a beloved character actor and M*A*S*H guest star, died in 2010

While "M*A*S*H" included a number of guest stars throughout its 11 years on the air, few made as much of a lasting impact as Leslie Nielsen, who brought Colonel "Buzz" Brighton to the screen in Season 1. Nielsen, who was known for starring roles in films such as "Airplane!" and the "Naked Gun" series, died in 2010 at the age of 84.

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"We are sadden[ed] by the passing of beloved actor Leslie Nielsen ... who enjoyed a more than 60-year career in motion pictures and television," a statement from Nielsen's family read, as noted by The Hollywood Reporter.

After proving to Alan Alda's Hawkeye that he had an itchy trigger finger, Brighton's character, one of the many guest characters that represented Hawkeye's disdain for war violence, was thrown for a loop when Hawkeye tried to deem him medically unfit to serve — a move that would have forced him out of active duty and back to the United States. Both the character of Brighton and Nielsen will surely be remembered.

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