‘M*A*S*H’ Star Suffered Brutal Injury That Nearly Ended Acting Career: ‘62 Stitches to Sew My Face Back Together’

by Matthew Wilson
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On the TV series “M*A*S*H,” they often treated horrific injuries. But in real life, one actor almost experienced a career-ending wound. Actor David Ogden Stiers, who played Charles Winchester III on “M*A*S*H,” tore open his face in an accident.

The actor experienced a traumatic wound to his face that would make most people wince. Stiers always believed in staying healthy and physical fitness. For one, Hollywood doesn’t like to employ out-of-shape actors as frequently. But Stiers also most ended his career and his life in a biking accident.

The incident happened a few years before he landed his gig “M*A*S*H.” Stiers loved to bike but one day, he crashed his bike. In the crash, Stiers severely injured his face as a result. And he had to go to the hospital as well.

“I was cycling down a hill and hit a slick spot,” Stiers explained to Tampa Bay Times in 1976. “My bike went one way and I went another, skidding on my face. At the hospital, they used 62 stitches to sew my face back together.”

Rather than end up with a face that only a mother could love, Stiers healed remarkably quickly. In fact, the actor had everyone questioning how he healed so quickly. Short of having a superhuman healing factor, Stiers credits the healing with living a healthy lifestyle. In fact, Stiers was well enough to audition for and land a TV pilot just five weeks later.

‘M*A*S*H’ Star Heals Following Accident

“I credit the expert care I received in the emergency room of the hospital and the subsequent natural response to healing that comes from a healthy body,” the “M*A*S*H” star said.

Stiers appeared on “M*A*S*H” as Charles Winchester III. He appeared during the episode “Tell It to the Marines” as a health-conscious, narcissistic soldier for instance. In the episode, Winchester becomes the commanding officer over the whole camp. And well, to spoil a several decades-old show, things didn’t turn out well.

But if things turned out differently, Stiers might have never appeared on “M*A*S*H” to begin with. Fortunately, Stiers quickly landed on his feet as an actor. For one, he starred in the lead role on the short-lived show “Doc.” It followed Stiers as a medical clinic director leading a group of doctors. Think a precursor to shows like “ER” or “Grey’s Anatomy.” The show ended up only lasting for two seasons though.

If you go back and watch “M*A*S*H,” you might notice remnants of Stiers’ accident. But you’ll have to be an eagle-eyed viewer and maybe get a magnifying glass. Because the accident didn’t leave much of a scar at all. In fact, the only sign that Stiers was in an accident is a small scar on his upper lip.

“That adds a spot of character,” Stiers said.

Outsider.com