Harry Morgan
M*A*S*H TV series star Harry Morgan in 2010.
Personal Information
Gender: Male
Birthname Harry Bratsburg
Born: (1915-04-10)April 10, 1915
Birthplace Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Died: December 7, 2011(2011-12-07) (aged 96) (natural causes)
Deathplace Rancho, Cucomanga, California, U.S.
Actor, Director, Producer, TV personality, Artist
Years active: 1935-2002
Spouse(s): Eileen Detchon
(1945-1984, her death)
Barbara Bushman Quinine
(1986-2011, his death)
Related to: Four sons
Character information
Appeared on/in: M*A*S*H/AfterMASH
Episodes appeared in: as Colonel Potter:
179 on M*A*S*H from Seasons 4-11
29 on AfterMASH
as Maj. General Steele:
episode titled "The General Flipped at Dawn" in Season 3 of M*A*S*H
Character(s) played: Sherman T. Potter and Major General Bartford Hamilton Steele

Harry Morgan (born Harry Bratsberg; on April 10, 1915 - December 7, 2011) was a prolific veteran character actor and director, whose television and film career spanned six decades. Morgan's major roles included Pete Porter in both December Bride (1954–1959) and Pete and Gladys (1960–1962); Officer Bill Gannon on NBC-TVs Dragnet (1967–1970); Amos Coogan on Hec Ramsey (1972–1974); and Colonel Sherman T. Potter in M*A*S*H (1975–1983) and AfterMASH (1983–1984). Morgan also appeared in more than 100 films.

Early life and careerEdit

Morgan was the son of Hannah and Henry Bratsberg, who were of Swedish and Norwegian ancestry. In his interview with the Archive of American Television, Morgan spelled his Norwegian family surname as "Bratsberg." Many sources, however, including some family records, list the spelling as "Bratsburg." According to one source, when Morgan's father Henry registered at junior high school, "the registrar spelled it Bratsburg instead of Bratsberg. Bashful Henry did not demur.

Morgan was raised in Muskegon, Michigan, and graduated from Muskegon High School in 1933, where he achieved distinction as a statewide debating champion. He originally aspired to a law degree, but began acting while a junior at the University of Chicago in 1935.

He began acting on stage under his birth name, joining the Group Theatre in New York City formed by Harold Clurman, Cheryl Crawford and Lee Strasberg in 1937. He appeared in the original production of the Clifford Odets play Golden Boy, followed by a host of successful Broadway roles alongside such other Group members as Lee J. Cobb, Elia Kazan, Sanford Meisner and Karl Malden. Morgan also did summer stock at the Pine Brook Country Club located in the countryside of Nichols, Connecticut.

Film workEdit

Morgan made his screen debut (originally using the name "Henry Morgan") in the 1942 movie To the Shores of Tripoli. His screen name later would become "Henry 'Harry' Morgan" and eventually Harry Morgan, to avoid confusion with the popular humorist of the same name.

In the same year, Morgan appeared in the movie Orchestra Wives as a young man pushing his way to the front of a ballroom crowd with his date to hear Glenn Miller's band play. A few years later, still credited as Henry Morgan, he was cast in the role of pianist Chummy MacGregor in the 1954 biopic The Glenn Miller Story.

Morgan continued to play a number of significant roles on the big screen in such films as The Ox-Bow Incident (1943); Wing and a Prayer (1944); Dragonwyck (1946); The Big Clock (1948); High Noon (1952); and several films in the 1950s for director Anthony Mann, including Bend of the River (1952); Thunder Bay (1953); The Glenn Miller Story (1954); The Far Country (1955) and Strategic Air Command (1955). In his later film career, he appeared in Inherit the Wind (1960); How the West Was Won (1962) (as Ulysses S. Grant); John Goldfarb, Please Come Home (1965); Frankie and Johnny (1966); Support Your Local Sheriff! (1969); Support Your Local Gunfighter! (1971); Snowball Express (1972); The Shootist (1976); The Wild Wild West Revisited (1979); and a cameo in the film version of Dragnet (1987) with Dan Aykroyd and Tom Hanks.

Morgan's tenure on M*A*S*H*Edit

Harry Morgan's links to M*A*S*H began with a one-time appearance as Major General Bartford Hamilton Steele, who visits the 4077th in the Season 3 episode "The General Flipped at Dawn." Morgan played the part of the crazy general outstandingly well. The scene where he speaks to Radar while inspecting the troops took 17 takes because Gary Burghoff and McLean Stevenson had too much trouble keeping from laughing! Burghoff recounted that they had not expected Morgan to be so funny, as they were more used to watching him in dramatic roles. As Burghoff put it, "We had not, never, expected him to be that off the wall. And he just killed us."[1]

Following this remarkable success, when the series producers knew of Stevenson's intended departure, they asked Morgan if he would like to join the cast as his replacement. Morgan accepted the invitation and became Sherman T. Potter, a character which outlasted his predecessor, and remained with M*A*S*H for the next 8 seasons, until the last episode. Morgan won an Emmy for his role in M*A*S*H and went to reprise the role of the colonel in the short-lived spin off AfterMASH. Morgan thought that Potter was his favorite character and M*A*S*H his favorite show. He felt he could play the part forever.  "It was just that kind of role, that kind of show," he said.[2]  


Morgan died peacefully in his sleep at 3:00 a.m. in Los Angeles, California, on December 7, 2011, at the age of 96.[3][4] His son, Charles, said he recently had been treated for pneumonia.[3] His body was cremated and his ashes were given to his family.[5] Following Morgan's death, Mike Farrell, who played B.J. Hunnicutt opposite Morgan in M*A*S*H, released a statement: "He was a wonderful man, a fabulous actor and a dear and close friend since the first day we worked together. As Alan [Alda] said, ‘He did not have an unadorable bone in his body." Farrell went on to say, "He was a treasure as a person, an imp at times, and always a true professional. He had worked with the greats and never saw himself as one of them. But he was,” Farrell said. "He was the rock everyone depended on and yet he could cut up like a kid when the situation warranted it," he continues, "He was the apotheosis, the finest example of what people call a "character actor". What he brought to the work made everyone better. He made those who are thought of as ‘stars’ shine even more brightly." The last thing that Farrell said of Morgan was, "The love and admiration we all felt for him were returned tenfold in many, many ways. And the greatest and, most selfless tribute to the experience we enjoyed was paid by Harry at the press conference when our show ended. He remarked that someone had asked him if working on M*A*S*H had made him a better actor. He responded by saying, 'I don’t know about that, but it made me a better human being.' It’s hard to imagine a better one."[6] [7]


  1. Memories of M*A*S*H, CBS, November 25, 1991.
  2. Suzy Kalter, Complete Book of Mash (New York: H.N. Abrams Publishing, 1988), 179.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Pollak, Michael. "Harry Morgan, Colonel Potter on ‘M*A*S*H,’ Dies at 96", The New York Times, December 7, 2011. 
  4. Ulaby, Neda (December 7, 2011). Harry Morgan, M*A*S*H's Col. Potter, Dies At 96. NPR. Retrieved on December 10, 2011.
  7. Harry Morgan of TV comedy 'M*A*S*H' dies, 96, by Will Dunham WASHINGTON,, Wed Dec 7, 2011 5:30pm EST

External linksEdit

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