Sometimes, actors in long-running TV series have trouble finding work. “M*A*S*H” actor William Christopher didn’t feel this way.
Christopher, who played Father Francis Mulcahy, chaplain for the “M*A*S*H” 4077th, considered his great fortune around being on such a popular TV sitcom.
“People ask me about typecasting and ‘M*A*S*H’ and whether I will be bothered by that,” Christopher said in an interview shown on MeTV.com. It was done before his death on Dec. 31, 2016, at 84 years old. “And I always say that the blessings that ‘M*A*S*H’ showed on me were great that I think I’m a pretty lucky actor.”
‘M*A*S*H’ Star Also Played Roles in Other Classic TV Shows
He played Father Mulcahy on “M*A*S*H” for its entire 11-season run on CBS. Then Christopher joined costars Harry Morgan and Jamie Farr in “AfterMASH,” which lasted two seasons. Morgan played Col. Sherman Potter and Farr played Cpl. Max Klinger, respectively.
But Christopher had already built up quite a resumé of TV work before nailing down his “M*A*S*H” role. He played Pvt. Lester Hummel between 1965-68 on “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.” Christopher appeared in three episodes of “The Andy Griffith Show” in 1965 and 1967. Other TV show appearances included “Hogan’s Heroes,” “The Patty Duke Show,” and “Good Times.”
By the way, the “M*A*S*H” star also popped up in movies, too. Among his big-screen credits are “The Fortune Cookie,” “The Shakiest Gun in the West,” and “With Six You Get Eggroll.” A side note: “M*A*S*H” costar Farr also appears with him in the Henry Fonda-Doris Day family-friendly “Eggroll” movie. You can also catch a fresh-faced comedian named George Carlin in that one, too.
Christopher would make his last TV appearance on the NBC soap opera “Days Of Our Lives” in 2012.
Christopher Came Close To Losing Famous Spot In Cast After Audition
One thing about “M*A*S*H” is creator-writer Larry Gelbart knew what he wanted in actors and characters. There was a way in which he wrote that actors needed to hit, on the mark, or they were out.
Well, Christopher went in to audition for Father Mulcahy and it didn’t go well. Executive producer Burt Metcalfe really wanted him for the role. But Gelbart had the final say.
“We made the pilot with a different Father Mulcahy,” Metcalfe said in a 2018 interview with The Hollywood Reporter. “He was the only performer Larry wanted to change. Bill was my great white hope. He blew the audition, though. Larry wrote in a specific rhythm and if you don’t adhere to it, you destroy the humor. I managed to get him another audition.”
They put another actor in for the pilot. Well, that didn’t work out. Christopher got another chance and ended up nabbing the “M*A*S*H” role. He didn’t mess this one up at all.
What would that show be without Christopher? Well, his contributions were timely as part of the entire show’s cast.