M*A*S*H star William Christopher dies


William Christopher, who played kind-hearted priest Father Mulcahy in the TV series M*A*S*H, has died at 84.

The actor, who was diagnosed with cancer 18 months ago, died at home in Pasadena, California, on Saturday.

He appeared in all 11 seasons of M*A*S*H, a bittersweet comedy about the life of a US medical unit during the 1950-53 Korean War.

The show ran from 1972-1983. Its finale drew 106 million viewers, a record at the time.

Christopher, who was born in Chicago, moved to New York to work as a theatre actor after college. He later went to California, securing several television roles.

Then in 1972 he was cast in M*A*S*H, a television series that followed a film of the same name.

M*A*S*H stands for Mobile Army Surgical Hospital, and the series centred on a unit, the M*A*S*H 4077, and the lives of the doctors and nurses who staffed it.

Christopher played the camp chaplain, a courteous and compassionate presence who counselled medical staff and patients amid the chaos of the war.

He was one of four cast members who appeared in every season of the show. When it ended, he briefly appeared in a spin-off, After M*A*S*H, with two other cast members, as well as other television work.

Loretta Swit, who played Major Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan, said Christopher was perfectly cast in M*A*S*H.

“Everyone adored him,” she said. “A great sense of humour and a great humanitarian. He became TV’s quintessential padre as Father Mulcahy on M*A*S*H.”

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