Harry Morgan

Actor / TV Director

Born: 10 April 1915
Died: 7 December 2011 (pneumonia)
Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan
Best known as:

Col. Sherman Potter on the long-running TV series MASH

Name at birth: Harry Bratsburg

Harry Morgan is the American actor best known for his supporting roles in the TV shows Dragnet and MASH.  Born Harry Bratsberg, he got his acting start on the New York stage in the 1930s. Under the stage name Henry Morgan he landed small roles in 1940s movies like To the Shores of Tripoli (1942) and The Ox-Bow Incident (1943, with Henry Fonda). He soon found his niche as a character actor, playing a series of small-town judges and mayors, aging Army officers and exasperated fathers. In the 1960s he changed his stage name to Harry Morgan (to avoid confusion with then-popular comedian Henry Morgan) and became a frequent TV guest star on shows like Dr. Kildare and Have Gun, Will Travel.  In 1967 he joined the cast of the cop show Dragnet as Officer Bill Gannon, the sidekick to Jack Webb's Sgt. Joe Friday.  The show had been a hit from 1951-59; in the revived version, Morgan's Officer Gannon was a chatty, balding and slightly goofy partner to Sgt. Friday, tagging along as they solved small-time crimes in the day-to-day life of cops. Morgan joined the hit show MASH in 1975, in its fourth season, after the departure of actor McLean Stevenson; Morgan played Col. Sherman Potter, an old cavalryman and regular Army officer who takes over command of an U.S. Army mobile hospital during the Korean War.  Morgan remained with the show until its end in 1983, and then starred in the short-lived sequel After MASH (1983-84).  He won an Emmy in 1980 as best supporting actor in a comedy, variety or music series for his work in MASH.  His other feature films include High Noon (1953, with Gary Cooper), Inherit the Wind (1960, with Spencer Tracy) and the slapstick western Support Your Local Sheriff (1969, with James Garner).

Extra credit:

Harry Morgan "attended the University of Chicago but left in the 1930s to sell office equipment in Washington, D.C.," according to his obituary in the LA Times… Harry Morgan was nominated for a best supporting actor Emmy in every year of his run on MASH, from 1975-83. He was also Emmy-nominated in 1974 for a guest appearance he made on MASH as crazy General Bartford Steele, unrelated to Col. Potter… Morgan also directed TV shows occasionally, and was Emmy-nominated as a director in 1980 for the MASH episode "Stars and Stripes"… He married the former Eileen Detchon in 1940, and they remained married until her death in 1985. They had four children; one, Christopher Morgan, has been a TV producer on shows ranging from Miami Vice to Memphis Beat… Harry Morgan married his second wife, Barbara Bushman, in 1986 and they remained married until his death.

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