Most of the time, characters are written first, and then an actor then learns about their hobbies. On M*A*S*H, when the producers found out that Harry Morgan had an affinity for horses, they wrote that hobby right into Colonel Potter’s character arc. In fact, that horse, Sophie, Colonel Potter on M*A*S*H loved so much? Harry Morgan actually owned one of the horse actors who played her.
For most actors, a role on the hit series, M*A*S*H, which still has the most-watched series finale to this day, would be the opportunity of a lifetime. But Harry Morgan got to bring his love for horses to his already fantastic day job.
On M*A*S*H, an actor’s skills and hobbies were actually a part of the audition process. That’s why when you watch M*A*S*H, you’ll notice characters golfing or throwing around a football.
‘M*A*S*H’ Actor Harry Morgan’s Love for Horses
For Harry Morgan, his favorite thing wasn’t golf or soccer. He loved his horses. Morgan had a 15-acre ranch with his wife in Santa Rosa, California. The horses on the ranch weren’t for racing or show. They were his pets. Morgan specifically spent time caring for quarter horses but admitted that he had less time for the ranch once he started working on M*A*S*H.
Morgan talked about his ranch in a 1982 interview with The Wichita Eagle, “Been up there 20 years. Used to raise quarter-horses. But working on M*A*S*H, I had little time to enjoy them.”
M*A*S*H producers gave the Character Colonel Potter a horse, but Sophie, the horse, wasn’t just a single horse. Over the course of his time on M*A*S*H, Harry Morgan got to work with a ton of different horses.
In the finale, the horse he worked with was extra special because she was his own. That touching scene where Colonel Potter says his goodbye was actually to his own horse, and the acting was particularly outstanding considering Potter would later take that very horse back home. It wasn’t a “goodbye” at all!
Harry Morgan Passed away in 2011. Alan Alda has said of his time working with Morgan that, “We loved Harry Morgan. He gave us some of our happiest memories.”
Mike Ferrel, who played B.J Hunnicutt released a statement about his death.
“There’s not an un-adorable bone in the man’s body. He was full of fun, and he was smart as a whip.” Ferrel said that “He was the rock everyone depended on and yet he could cut up like a kid when the situation warranted it. He was the apotheosis, the finest example of what people call a character actor. What he brought to the work made everyone better. He made those who are thought of as ‘stars’ shine even more brightly
Whether it was goofing off with his Co-Stars or spending time with the horses, Harry Morgan’s time on M*A*S*H was truly a special one and helped propel the series to the legendary status where it belongs today.