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David Ogden Stiers (born October 31, 1942) is an American actor, voice actor, and musician, noted for his role in the television sitcom M*A*S*H as Major Charles Emerson Winchester III and the science fiction drama The Dead Zone as Reverend Gene Purdy. A connoisseur of classical music, Stiers has been a guest conductor for over 50 orchestras in North America and maintained a position as associate conductor of the Newport Symphony Orchestra and the Ernest Bloch Music Festival.

Early life

Stiers was born in Peoria, Illinoismarker, the son of Margaret Elizabeth (née Ogden) and Kenneth Truman Stiers. He attended Urbana High School, at the same time as film critic Roger Ebert. He later relocated to Eugene, Oregonmarker, where he graduated from high school and briefly attended the University of Oregonmarker. He later ventured to San Francisco, where he performed with the California Shakespeare Theater, San Francisco Actors Workshop, and the improv group The Committee, whose members included Rob Reiner and Howard Hesseman. Soon after, Stiers studied drama at Juilliardmarker. During his studies, Stiers was mentored by accomplished theater actor John Houseman and would later join his City Center Acting Company.

Early acting credits

Despite success in New York, Stiers returned to California and made the transition into television. His early credits include The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Kojak, and Rhoda. Stiers also appeared in the pilot of Charlie’s Angels and was reportedly offered a role on the show; however, Stiers turned down the opportunity. Another source indicates rather that his character was written out of the show following the pilot, a not uncommon occurrence in the world of television.

M*A*S*H (1977-1983)

In 1977, Stiers joined the cast of the now iconic television CBS-TV sitcom M*A*S*H. As Major Charles Emerson Winchester III, Stiers filled the void created by the departure of actor Larry Linville and his Frank Burns character. In contrast to Linville's Burns, Stiers' Winchester character presented a different type of foil to Alan Alda's Hawkeye Pierce and Mike Farrell's B.J. Hunnicutt. Frank Burns usually served as the brunt of practical jokes instigated by Hawkeye, Trapper John, or B.J., and his surgical skill was often harshly criticized. Charles, however, presented a more difficult challenge for his counterparts because his surgical skills could match or even outshine theirs, and thus he was not as easy a target for the fellow surgeons' barbs and jokes. For his portrayal of the pompous but nonetheless multidimensional Boston aristocrat, Stiers received two Emmy Award nominations.

Other television work

Following the completion of M*A*S*H, Stiers expanded his work on television, with regular guest appearances in North and South; Star Trek: The Next Generation; Murder, She Wrote; Touched By An Angel; and Frasier, along with appearing on Two Guys and a Girl as Mr Bauer. He also had guest appearances on ALF and Matlock. He also appeared in two unsuccessful television projects, Love & Money and Justice League of America (as the Martian Manhunter). In 2002, Stiers started a recurring role as the Reverend Purdy on the successful USA Network show The Dead Zone, with Anthony Michael Hall. In 2006, he was cast as the recurring character Oberoth in Stargate Atlantis. Stiers also appeared in several Perry Mason made-for-TV movies in the 1980s as District Attorney Michael Reston.

Film work

With a vast television résumé, Stiers expanded into film as well. His early films included Jack Nicholson’s Drive, He Said and the George Burns comedy Oh, God! He followed up with roles in Harry's War, Better Off Dead, The Man With One Red Shoe, The Accidental Tourist, Iron Will, Doc Hollywood, Jungle 2 Jungle, and Krippendorf's Tribe. During the 1990s, Stiers joined Woody Allen’s ensemble casts in Shadows and Fog, Mighty Aphrodite, Everyone Says I Love You, and The Curse of the Jade Scorpion. His most recent film appearance was in the 2001 Frank Capra-esque film The Majestic, with Jim Carrey.

Voice over works

With a distinct authoritative voice, Stiers has provided voice work for dozens of film and television projects. His first work was on one of George Lucas’ earliest films, the critically acclaimed THX 1138. Stiers has voiced PBS documentary films such as Ric Burns’ project New York: A Documentary Film and the television series The American Experience, directed by Ric Burns. Furthermore, he has collaborated with Disney on eight animated features, such as Beauty and the Beast (as Cogsworth, also opening narration), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (as the Archdeacon) Pocahontas (as Governor Ratcliffe andWiggins), Lilo and Stitch (as Jumba Jookiba), and Spirited Away (as Kamaji). He also voiced Gryzlikoff in Darkwing Duck. He also voiced the king and prime minister in a short film, The Cat That Looked At The King, in 2004. In recent years, Stiers has lent his voice to several video games, including Icewind Dale, Kingdom Hearts II, Uru: Ages Beyond Myst, and Myst V: End of Ages. He recently lent his voice in Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman as The Penguin and Hoodwinked! as Nicky Flippers.

Personal life

In May 2009, Stiers came out as gay, based on an interview published by the LGBT blog Gossip Boy.

References

  1. Gossip Boy Exclusive! Television Icon David Ogden Stiers Officially Comes Out by Wayne Fuller; Gossip Boy, March 11, 2009.


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