LOS ANGELES - Emmy-winning character actor Harry Morgan, 96, whose portrayal of the fatherly Col. Potter on television's M*A*S*H highlighted a show-business career that included nine other TV series, 50 films, and the Broadway stage, died Wednesday.
His daughter-in-law, Beth Morgan, told the Associated Press the actor died at his home in Brentwood after having pneumonia.
Mr. Morgan appeared in mostly supporting roles on the big screen, playing opposite such stars as Henry Fonda, John Wayne, James Garner, and Elvis Presley.
On television, he was more the comedic costar, including roles on December Bride; its spin-off, Pete and Gladys; as Sgt. Joe Friday's loyal partner in later Dragnet episodes; and on CBS-TV's long-running M*A*S*H series, for which he earned an Emmy in 1980.
Acting wasn't Mr. Morgan's first career choice.
Born in Detroit in 1915, he was studying prelaw at the University of Chicago when public-speaking classes sparked his interest in the stage. Soon he was working with a little-theater group in Washington, followed by a two-year stint on Broadway in the original production of Golden Boy, with Karl Malden and Lee J. Cobb.
Mr. Morgan made his way to Hollywood in 1942 "without any assurance that I would find work," he said in a 1976 AP interview. "I didn't have enough money to go back East, so I stayed around finding jobs mainly out of friendships."
He signed a contract with 20th Century Fox after a talent scout spotted him in the one-act play Hello, Out There.
One of his earliest films was The Ox-Bow Incident in 1943 with Fonda. Other films included High Noon, What Price Glory, Support Your Local Sheriff, The Apple Dumpling Gang, and The Shootist. Mr. Morgan began his television career in 1954 when the medium was in its infancy.
In December Bride, his first TV series, Mr. Morgan played Pete Porter, a perpetually henpecked neighbor. The CBS series lasted from 1954 to 1959, when he went on to star in his own series, Pete and Gladys, a spin-off of December Bride.
Demonstrating his diversity as a character actor and comedian, Mr. Morgan also starred in The Richard Boone Show, Kentucky Jones, and Dragnet. But it was his role as Col. Sherman Potter on M*A*S*H for which Mr. Morgan became best known.
"M*A*S*H was so damned good," Mr. Morgan told the AP. "I didn't think they could keep the level so high."
His acting career didn't stop when the popular series left the air in 1983 after 11 years - one of television's most successful prime-time runs. Mr. Morgan went on to appear in several made-for-TV movies and other television series, such as AfterMASH and Blacke's Magic.
When he was not on the set, Mr. Morgan enjoyed reading about the legal profession and poetry. He also liked horses, which he once raised on his Northern California ranch.
Mr. Morgan is survived by three sons, Charles, Paul, and Christopher; eight grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.