William Christopher, famous for his long-running role of Father John Mulcahy on M*A*S*H, passed away on Saturday at the age of 84. Christopher played the camp chaplain for 11 seasons, providing the 4077 with its moral center in the middle of a Korean War that wouldn’t end and making the role his own following prior appearances in the original novel and film of the same name.
According to BBC News, Christopher died at his California home in the early morning hours of New Year’s Eve after a lengthy battle with cancer. He also marks the last of a long line of celebrity deaths in 2016.
Before M*A*S*H, Christopher got his start as a stage actor in New York before landing appearances in numerous television series such as Gomer Pyle: USMC, Hogan’s Heroes, and The Andy Griffith Show. He would then land his iconic role on M*A*S*H in 1972, going on to be one of the four cast members to appear in every season of the show. He would also carry on the role into the less successful spin-off After M*A*S*H, following his character and fellow M*A*S*H cast members Harry Morgan and Jamie Farr as they work at a veteran’s hospital following the Korean War.
Former co-star Loretta Swit sent a touching statement to ABC 7 in LA on Christopher’s passing:
“Our dear Bill and his goodness are a great argument for there being a heaven. I never heard him complain or lose his temper. Everyone adored him. A great sense of humor and a great humanitarian. He became TV’s quintessential padre as Father Mulcahy on ‘M*A*S*H.’ It was the most perfect casting ever known. He was probably responsible for more people coming back to the church. If God is nigh, then surely he or she will welcome Bill with open arms.”
Hard to deny he was a major part of the television series and its landmark history on television.