LOS ANGELES — David Ogden Stiers, best known as the arrogant surgeon Major Charles Emerson Winchester III in the TV series “M*A*S*H” and the voice of Cogsworth in the original “Beauty and the Beast,” has died at age 75.
His agent, Mitchell K. Stubbs, confirmed on Twitter that Stiers died Saturday of bladder cancer at his home. Stubbs paid tribute to the true heart of the man best known for his snooty portrayal of Major Winchester. “I am very sad to report that David died this morning March 3, 2018 peacefully at his home in Newport, Oregon after a courageous battle with bladder cancer. His talent was only surpassed by his heart.”
Stiers was born in Peoria, Ill., in 1942 and moved to Eugene, Ore. with his family. Yet he would get his major break playing the blue-blooded Bostonian Winchester, who replaced the departed Frank Burns (Larry Linville) at the 4077th MASH unit in Season 6 of the famed TV comedy set in the Korean War.
He starred on the show from 1977 until its landmark final episode in 1983, seen by 106 million people. The classical music-loving Winchester hitched a ride out of the MASH unit in the only vehicle available: a garbage truck.
“What better way to leave a garbage dump,” Winchester said in the finale.
Stiers was nominated for two Emmy Awards for the role, in 1981 and 1982.
He would earn a third Emmy nod in 1984 for his role as William Milligan Sloane, founder of the U.S. Olympic Committee, in the miniseries “The First Olympics: Athens 1896.”
The resonant-sounding actor also was famous for his animated voice work, most notably as the clock Cogsworth in Disney’s 1991’s animated classic Beauty and the Beast. Stiers was encouraged to improvise his lines. The most famous: When the Beast wonders what he should say to win his beloved Belle over, Cogsworth suggests, “Flowers, chocolates, promises you don’t intend to keep.”
Stiers would voice further animated role as Governor Ratcliffe in “Pocahontas,” Archdeacon in “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” and Dr. Jumba Jookiba in “Lilo & Stitch.” He was also the voice of an announcer in George Lucas’ 1971 feature directorial debut, “THX 1138.”
In a 2009 interview, Stiers revealed he was gay, saying he had kept his sexuality under wraps for fears of hurting his career.
The actor’s regional paper, The Oregonian, reports that Stiers was a gifted musician. He was the resident conductor of the Newport Symphony and had guest conducted for more than 70 orchestras throughout the world.
Stiers had more than 150 film and television credits, including appearances on the “Mary Tyler Moore Show” and several Perry Mason television movies.
Bryan Alexander, USA TODAY