Harry Morgan had no problem showing his emotions on the set of M*A*S*H

Harry Morgan had a lot of emotion on set, and he wasn't afraid to show it either.

Image credit: The Everett Collection

You may know Harry Morgan from his long acting resume with hundreds of roles across classic TV and film, or you may know him from his time on M*A*S*H. He played the role of Col. Sherman T. Potter and replaced McLean Stevenson, who played Lt. Col. Henry Blake.

Morgan joined the series in 1974 and was a little late to the 4077th party, which premiered in 1972 on CBS. When an actor like Harry Morgan is on one of TV's most popular series, fans usually recognize them on the streets. However, Morgan wasn't a new face.

He had been acting for some time, with his earliest roles dating back to 1942. M*A*S*H was just an extra resume builder. Some other notable parts Morgan had includes Pete and Gladys, Kentucky Jones, The Richard Boone Show and Dragnet

In a 1980 interview with Johnson City Press, Morgan said he was very nervous and a bit uneasy when he joined M*A*S*H. He was worried that the already bonded cast wouldn't welcome or accept him, but the 4077th doesn't disappoint. 

Morgan said they welcomed him with open arms, which gave him time to grow into the role of Col. Potter. One of the ways Morgan worked to develop Col. Potter was to bring more emotion to the part.

"I think I'm a lot looser now, less military," Morgan said. "There's much more of a flow between me and the other characters now. It's good. We have so much fun sitting around off-camera that it doesn't really change when we get on-camera. There's a lot of affection flowing around here."

Morgan was a military man in real life, too. During World War ll, he served in the Army Air Corps as a B-24 Liberator pilot. M*A*S*H underwent just as many changes with its cast as a real Army unit would.

Prior to joining the cast full-time, Morgan was a guest star on M*A*S*H, where you may remember him as the crazy general. M*A*S*H was Morgan's eighth role in a series, which he believed to be a record at the time.

In a 1976 interview with The Wichita Beacon, Morgan said he had a lot of emotion on set and wasn't afraid to show it.

"When they asked me if I, as Col. Potter, thought that once the Korean conflict was over and we were back home, would the M*A*S*H people retain this kind of relationship. I couldn't help it, I got tears in my eyes."

"I've always been with a show since the beginning, but this was easier than starting some of the shows from the beginning," Morgan said.

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9 Comments

Morgan8er 4 months ago
Whoa there - Harry was most certainly NOT a B24 pilot nor did he fight during WWII. He worked in recruitment films on the homefront but was not a military member. How can I be sure? I’m his eldest grandchild.
LynCarrigan 13 months ago
Col. Potter, a truly lovable character.
Zip 13 months ago
Of course he had a lot of emotions. They probably came flooding out after being so stoic on Dragnet all those years.
Zip 13 months ago
This comment has been removed.
SDWriter 13 months ago
Wrong, again. Hire an editor, please.
Harry Morgan began playing Col. Sherman Potter in the fall of 1975, not 1974. He did a one-show appearance as the insane, racist and dangerous General Bartford Hamilton Steele in the episode “The General Flipped at Dawn,” which aired in 1974, but he joined the cast in 1975.
Runeshaper 13 months ago
Great story. Thanks for sharing, MeTV!
CoreyC 13 months ago
Wrong. Harry Morgan guest starred as General Steele in 1974. Col Potter and BJ entered the series in 1975.
BenSobeleone 13 months ago
"And when old Doc Potter gets back to Hannibal, Missouri, he's gonna be Mrs. Potter's Mr. Potter."
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