David Ogden Stiers

David Ogden Stiers Headshot

Actor • Conductor

Birth Date: October 31, 1942

Death Date: March 3, 2018

Birth Place: Peoria, Illinois

Three-time Emmy nominee David Ogden Stiers was walking-talking-acting-and singing proof of the benefits of classical theater training. Being in the right place at the right time did not hurt the TV veteran actor either. His involvement with San Francisco comedy in the late '60s, New York theater in the early '70s and quality-driven TV comedies of the late '70s gave him a broad foundation on which to craft a versatile career in the performing arts.

His early, high-profile role as the erudite Dr. Charles Winchester on M*A*S*H (CBS, 1972-1983) may have laid the groundwork for decades of playing doctors, lawyers, judges, and politicians, but his credits extended far beyond that to include eloquent voice work in documentaries and dramatic characters in classic animated children's films. The multi-talent also enjoyed an additional career as a professional conductor with symphony orchestras around the country.

David Ogden Stiers died at his home in Newport, Oregon of complications from bladder cancer on March 3, 2018. He was 75 years old.

David Ogden Stiers was born on Halloween of 1942 in Peoria, IL. He grew up in Eugene, OR, where his talents for playing piano, French horn, and acting hinted at a potential future in the performing arts. After a short and unsuccessful stint at Eugene's U of O, Stiers was offered an acting job with the California Shakespeare Company in Santa Clara, and spent the next seven seasons in productions of "Othello," "A Midsummer Night's Dream," "Twelfth Night," and other stage classics.

While working in the Bay Area, he also performed with the San Francisco Actor's Workshop and the ground-breaking improv comedy group, The Committee, whose fellow cast members included Rob Reiner, Howard Hesseman and Second City improv founder, Del Close. At the age of 27, with a very long stage resume, Stiers picked up and moved to New York City to study voice and drama at the Juilliard School - one of the top performing arts conservatories in the country.

In the Big Apple, Stiers found an unprecedented amount of acting and training opportunities. There seemed to be no limits to where his career could go. John Houseman became his mentor at Juilliard, and when Houseman founded The Acting Company, Stiers was among its first players (along with fellow students Kevin Kline and Patti LuPone). He appeared in Acting Company productions of "The Lower Depths," "The Hostage" and "School for Scandal."

While at Juilliard, Stiers also got his foot in the door of the symphonic world when he narrated and conducted the French musical suite, "The Carnival of Animals" at Lincoln Center. In 1974, he made his Broadway debut opposite Zero Mostel, no less, in "Ulysses in Nighttown," and helped launch Doug Henning's magical/musical hybrid hit, "The Magic Show," for which he also appeared on the soundtrack recording.

Though he had made quite a dent in the New York theater scene in only five years, Stiers was a West Coaster at heart and ready to return to California. He transitioned easily to television work and found small roles on seventies mainstays like "Kojak" (CBS, 1973-78) and "Rhoda" (CBS, 1974-78), before landing a recurring role as the stuttering, toupee-wearing, station manager on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" (CBS, 1970-77).

Stiers also played a prominent part in the pilot of "Charlie's Angels" (ABC, 1976-81) and was offered a role on the show when it was picked up. In a brilliant promontory move, he declined, only to be offered a career-making gig on "M*A*S*H" less than a year later.

In 1977, Stiers joined the cast of "M*A*S*H," the award-winning sitcom that followed a team of doctors and staff stationed at the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital in Korea during the Korean War. The show already had a stellar reputation as one of the most highly-regarded - if not the most highly regarded - comedies on TV, with its juxtaposition of real-life wartime horror and sophisticated humor.

"Sophisticated" was one of the key words in casting the role of Major Charles Emerson Winchester III, a snobbish Boston blueblood and Harvard Medical School grad with a passion for Tchaikovsky, Ravel, and Mozart. His character was introduced to fill a void at the 4077 when Major Frank Burns (Larry Linville) was discharged from service. Major Winchester proved to be a whole new type of foil for Hawkeye Pierce (Alan Alda) and B.J. Hunnicut (Mike Farrell) - due in part to his arrogance, ego, and ability to keep up with their clever wit.

He initially kept his distance from the rest of the camp, but eventually he cracked and his humanity showed itself - often through his love of music. In the series finale, which remained one of the highest rated television episodes of all time, Winchester discovered a group of traditional Chinese musicians among the camp's POWs, and taught them a Mozart piece. Stiers received two Emmy nominations during his five years on the iconic series.

The end of "M*A*S*H" was the end of TV era, but the beginning of a new career focus for Stiers. He had appeared on the big screen during his "M*A*S*H" tenure with the feature films "Oh God!" (1977) and "Magic" (1978), but began landing even more film gigs with the cult fave "Better off Dead" (1985) as well as "The Accidental Tourist" (1988) and the Michael J. Fox vehicle, "Doc Hollywood" (1991).

Stiers was still seen regularly in made-for-TV movies and "Perry Mason" episodes, but soon his booming baritone began to take center stage. In 1991, he began an ongoing relationship with Disney, as well as a long and lucrative career in voice-overs with his role as the narrator Cogsworth in the animated hit, "Beauty and the Beast" (1991). He followed it up with Disney's "Pocahontas" (1995), "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" (1997), and "Lilo & Stitch" (2002) - the latter of which, he also voiced sequels and a spin-off television series (Disney, 2003-06).

The PBS documentary world also embraced him, and he became the dramatic, authoritative voice behind the revered Ric Burns series, "New York: A Documentary Film" (PBS, 1999), as well as "Ansel Adams," "The History of Chicago," "Nixon in China," and many science titles for the Nova series. On the other end of the cultural spectrum, the emerging field of video games was in growing need of voice-over artists, and Stiers contributed to many titles; even reprising his role as Cogsworth in "Beauty and the Beast" for the game "Kingdom Hearts II."

He would, in fact, trot out Cogsworth one more time for Disney's live Broadway production of "Beauty & the Beast."

During the 1990s, Stiers also enjoyed a stint as one of Woody Allen's favored actors, joining the ensemble casts of "Mighty Aphrodite" (1995), "Everyone Says I Love You" (1996) and "The Curse of the Jade Scorpion" (2001). He continued to make guest TV appearances throughout his career, and in 2002, finally returned to the fall lineup with his first regular cast role since "M*A*S*H."

Stiers played Reverend Purdy in the USA series, "The Dead Zone" (USA, 2002-07) a dark, mystical series based on the Stephen King book of the same name. Throughout his acting career, he always found time for his other great love - classical music - by conducting 50 orchestras in the United States and Canada. He maintained two positions as Associate Conductor of The Newport Symphony Orchestra and the Ernest Bloch Music Festival. Whenever possible, he enjoyed returning to the stage to perform in Shakespeare festivals.

Only weeks after "M*A*S*H" was honored with a TV Land Impact Award in early 2009, Stiers came out to a celebrity blog, declaring that he was gay. Stiers next appeared on the big screen in the film "Not Dead Yet" (2009), followed by two final screen roles in Neil Stryker and the Tyrants of Time" (2017) and "The Joneses Unplugged" (2017). He also had a recurring voice role on the animated sitcom "Regular Show" (Cartoon Network 2010-17).

David Ogden Stiers died at his home in Newport, Oregon of complications from bladder cancer on March 3, 2018. He was 75 years old.

Credits

The Joneses: Unplugged

Actor
Ralph Wilson
Movie
2017

Ride the Tiger

Narrator
Show
2016

Neil Stryker and the Tyrant of Time

Actor
The Admiral
Movie
2016

Classical Rewind 2 (My Music)

Host
Show
2015

Race for the Superbomb

Narrator
Show
2014

The Greenest Building

Narrator
Show
2011

Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil

Voice
Nicky Flippers
Movie
2011

Rizzoli & IslesStream

Guest Star
Dr. Isles
Series
2010

LeverageStream

Guest Star
Walt Whitman Wellesley IV
Series
2008
92%

Together Again for the First Time

Actor
Max Frobisher
Movie
2008

Frontline - The Mormons Part One

Narrator
Show
2007

Leroy & Stitch

Voice
Dr. Jumba Jookiba
Movie
2006

Hoodwinked!

Voice
Nicky Flippers
Movie
2005

Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch

Voice
Dr. Jumba Jookiba
Movie
2005

Pooh's Heffalump Movie

Narrator
Movie
2005

Winnie the Pooh: Springtime With Roo

Narrator
Movie
2004

Winnie Pooh: Nuevas Aventuras con Rito

Voice
Narrator
Movie
2004

Disney's Teacher's Pet

Voice
Mr. Jolly
Movie
2004

Cable Beach

Actor
Doc McWhirter
Movie
2004

Lilo & Stitch: The SeriesStream

Voice
Series
2003

Stitch! The Movie

Voice
Dr. Jumba Jookiba
Movie
2003

Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman

Voice
Penguin
Movie
2003

The Dead ZoneStream

Actor
Rev. Gene Purdy
Series
2002

M*A*S*H: 30th Anniversary Reunion Special

Actor
Show
2002

Lilo & StitchStream

Voice
Jumba
Movie
2002
87%

Murder, She Wrote: The Last Free Man

Actor
Stanford Thornton
Movie
2001

The Majestic

Actor
Doc Stanton
Movie
2001

The Curse of the Jade Scorpion

Actor
Voltan
Movie
2001

Atlantis: The Lost Empire

Voice
Fenton Q. Harcourt
Movie
2001

Spirited Away

Voice
Kamaji
Movie
2001

Teacher's Pet

Voice
Show
2000

Love & Money

Actor
Nicholas Conklin
Show
1999

Belle's Tales of Friendship

Actor
Movie
1999

The Stand-In

Actor
Professor Smith
Movie
1999

Hôhokekyo tonari no Yamada-kun

Narrator
Movie
1999

The Wild ThornberrysStream

Guest Voice
Series
1998

Two Guys and a Girl

Actor
Series
1998
33%

Krippendorf's Tribe

Actor
Henry Spivey
Movie
1998

Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World

Voice
Ratcliffe
Movie
1998

Ally McBeal

Guest Star
Series
1997
61%

The PracticeStream

Guest Star
Series
1997

Jungla a Jungla

Actor
Movie
1997

Meet Wally Sparks

Actor
Gov. Floyd Preston
Movie
1997

Jungle 2 Jungle

Actor
Alexei Jovanovic
Movie
1997

Belle's Magical World

Voice
Cogsworth
Movie
1997

Justice League of America

Actor
J'onn J'onzz/Martian Manhunter
Movie
1997

Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted ChristmasStream

Voice
Cogsworth
Movie
1997
13%

Poltergeist: The LegacyStream

Guest Star
Series
1996

The Hunchback of Notre DameStream

Voice
The Archdeacon
Movie
1996
71%

To Face Her Past

Actor
Lori Molina
Movie
1996

Everyone Says I Love YouStream

Actor
Arnold Spence
Movie
1996
77%

The Outer LimitsStream

Actor
Reverend Dr. Thomas Tilford
Series
1995

CybillStream

Guest Star
Series
1995

PocahontasStream

Voice
Governor Ratcliffe/Wiggins
Movie
1995
54%

Mighty AphroditeStream

Actor
Laius
Movie
1995
78%

Steal Big, Steal Little

Actor
Judge Winton Myers
Movie
1995

Touched by an AngelStream

Guest Star
Series
1994

En Algún Pasado

Actor
Movie
1994

Iron Will

Actor
J.W. Harper
Movie
1994

Past Tense

Actor
Dr. Bert James
Movie
1994

Bad Company

Actor
Judge Beach
Movie
1994

FrasierStream

Guest Star
Leland Barton
Series
1993
95%

Dr. Quinn, Medicine WomanStream

Guest Star
Series
1993

Without a Kiss Goodbye

Actor
Gerald Orr
Movie
1993

Taking Liberty

Actor
Benjamin Franklin
Movie
1993

The Last of His Tribe

Actor
Dr. Saxton Pope
Movie
1992

Shadows and Fog

Actor
Hacker
Movie
1992

Porco Rosso

Voice
Grandpa Piccolo
Movie
1992

Doc HollywoodStream

Actor
Mayor Nick Nicholson
Movie
1991
69%

Belle et la bête

Voice
Movie
1991

Wife, Mother, Murderer

Actor
John Homan
Movie
1991

Beauty and the BeastStream

Voice
Cogsworth/Narrator
Movie
1991
93%

WingsStream

Guest Star
Series
1990

Buscando el Pasado

Actor
Movie
1990

The Kissing Place

Actor
Charles Tulane
Movie
1990

How to Murder a Millionaire

Actor
Gilbert
Movie
1990

Final Notice

Actor
Movie
1989

The Final Days

Actor
General Alexander M. Haig Jr
Movie
1989

Perry Mason: The Case of the Avenging Ace

Actor
D.A. Michael Reston
Movie
1988

Perry Mason: The Case of the Lady in the Lake

Actor
D.A. Michael Reston
Movie
1988

Another Woman

Actor
Young Marion's Father
Movie
1988

The Accidental TouristStream

Actor
Porter Leary
Movie
1988
82%

Matlock: The Ambassador

Actor
Thomas Baldwin
Movie
1988

Star Trek: The Next GenerationStream

Guest Star
Timicin
Series
1987
92%

Star Trek: The Next Generation 2.0

Guest Star
Show
1987

Perry Mason: The Case of the Murdered Madam

Actor
D.A. Michael Reston
Movie
1987

Perry Mason: The Case of the Scandalous Scoundrel

Actor
Michael Reston
Movie
1987

J. Edgar Hoover

Actor
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Movie
1987

The Alamo: 13 Days to Glory

Actor
Col. Black
Movie
1987

Perry Mason: The Case of the Lost Love

Actor
D.A. Michael Reston
Movie
1987

Perry Mason: The Case of the Sinister Spirit

Actor
D.A. Michael Reston
Movie
1987

ALFStream

Guest Star
Flakey Pete
Series
1986

North and South, Book II

Actor
Congressman Sam Greene
Miniseries
1986

MatlockStream

Guest Star
Series
1986

Mrs. Delafield Wants to Marry

Actor
Horton Delafield
Movie
1986

Perry Mason: The Case of the Notorious Nun

Actor
D.A. Michael Reston
Movie
1986

Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star

Actor
District Attorney Michael Reston
Movie
1986

North and SouthStream

Actor
Congressman Sam Greene
Miniseries
1985

The Ray Bradbury TheaterStream

Actor
Leonard Mead
Series
1985

The Bad Seed

Actor
Emory Breedlove
Movie
1985

The Man With One Red ShoeStream

Actor
The Conductor
Movie
1985
47%

Creator

Actor
Dr. Sid Kullenbeck
Movie
1985

Better Off DeadStream

Actor
Al Meyer
Movie
1985

Murder, She WroteStream

Guest Star
Howard Deems
Series
1984

The First Olympics: Athens 1896

Actor
Dr. William Milligan Sloane
Miniseries
1984

Anatomy of an Illness

Actor
Cleveland Amory
Movie
1984

M*A*S*H: Goodbye, Farewell, Amen

Actor
Charles Winchester
Movie
1983

The Innocents Abroad

Actor
Doc
Movie
1982

The Day the Bubble Burst

Actor
William Crapo Durant
Movie
1982

Harry's War

Actor
Ernie
Movie
1981

Father Damien: The Leper Priest

Actor
Dr. Mouritz
Movie
1980

The Oldest Living Graduate

Actor
Major
Movie
1980

The Paper Chase

Guest Star
Series
1978

MagicStream

Actor
Todson
Movie
1978
87%

A Love Affair: The Eleanor and Lou Gehrig Story

Actor
Dr. Charles Mayo
Movie
1978

The Cheap DetectiveStream

Actor
Captain
Movie
1978
53%

Oh, God!Stream

Actor
Mr. McCarthy
Movie
1977
75%

A Circle of Children

Actor
Dan Franklin
Movie
1977

Charlie's Angels

Actor
Scott Woodville
Movie
1975

Rhoda

Guest Star
Series
1974

KojakStream

Guest Star
Bryan LeBlanc
Series
1973

M*A*S*HStream

Actor
Maj. Charles Emerson Winchester III
Series
1972

Drive, He Said

Actor
Pro Owner
Movie
1971

The Mary Tyler Moore ShowStream

Guest Star
Mel Price
Series
1970

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