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A note about a friend I never met.

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by garytelecastor, Feb 7, 2017.

  1. garytelecastor

    garytelecastor Poster Extraordinaire

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    A while back I was watching MASH and I was noticing the acting style of Harry Morgan-you know, Captain Potter. I got to thinking about the number of movies and tv series I had seen him in and I had never seen him give a lousy performance. To me he was one h**l of an actor.

    I remember seeing him the first time in a Jimmy Stewart film called The Far Country where he played a bad guy who tangles with Jimmy on and off through the movie. Something about his on-screen presence was bigger than life. So down through the years I have seen him in a ton of work-Dragnet, Mash, After Mash, Dragnet movies, the Apple Dumpling Gang movies, A ton of stuff for Disney, High Noon, How the West was Won, a ton of tv and movies. I really began to think about how all of my life he just seemed to be ubiquitous and what a great great character actor he was. Two movies with him in them that I still laugh to tears were Support your Local Sheriff and The Shootist.

    In the "Sheriff" he plays the mayor with this screwy daughter and he just knocks it out of the park. Best line "Well, pooberty hit her hard, and that will rattle a girl." James Garner-"Really? I didn't know that". "Harry, in that mad gruff voice, "Well, it will!!!". The other is when he is sending one of the bad guys into the saloon to shoot it out with John Wayne in the Shootist. The gunfighter says, "When I get through with him, I am going to come out here and settle with you". Harry says, "Yeah, yeah. Just don't wet your pants", and he shoves him through the door. Just a great little moment in that film that is one of the most memorable.

    So for the first time in my life I decided to write him an actor a letter. Now he was retired and I didn't have any idea of how to reach him, so I began a search. As a person of notoriety he, of course, didn't list any contact stuff except through his agent, and you never know if they get that mail or not. So I read a little snippet that included a name of one of his sons and I wrote him the letter and asked him if he would get it to Harry. He told me he would. A little while later he left us. His son sent me a letter telling me that he was gone, and I have to tell you that every time I see him on a program to this day, I still well up a little.

    I really miss him, but thankfully he left us a whole life's work of premium quality acting and character roles that he has yet to have matched.

    I never met him, and yet I would have loved to. I get the feeling that everything we saw on screen was the man himself. I miss ya Harry.

    One little side note. He won 3 Emmys and was nominated for a whole bunch more.
    Do me a favor, and if you have anything you remember about him, would you post, please?
    Thank you.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2017
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  2. thunderbyrd

    thunderbyrd Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    What you've written here is very much how i felt about John Hurt, that he really lifted up whatever he was in.
     
  3. Bristlehound

    Bristlehound Friend of Leo's

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    M*A*S*H was my favourite program when I was a teenager... especially as over here we didn't get the laughter track with it. I had a 'teenage crush' on Loretta Swit and every few years or so, I watch the box set - spread out over the winter months.
     
  4. Stringbanger

    Stringbanger Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Who can forget Officer Bill Gannon? IMG_1336.JPG
     
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  5. 4 Cat Slim

    4 Cat Slim Friend of Leo's

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    Morgan was indeed a great character actor who seems to show up in so many films of the fifties and sixties.

    A lesser-known role was his portrayal of the city police chief in the movie "Viva Max!". The basic story is that a
    Mexican army General (portrayed by Peter Ustinov) decides to cross the border and capture the Alamo in
    then modern-day (1969) San Antonio. The movie was a light-hearted farce and also stars Jonathan Winters
    and John Astin. I don't know if it was ever released for home video.
     
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  6. Larry F

    Larry F Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    December Bride and Pete and Gladys were my first experiences with him. He always had a great persona on the screen.
     
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  7. telleutelleme

    telleutelleme Telefied Silver Supporter

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    I cannot think of any other actor who could have played the sidekick to The droll Sgt. Joe Friday and still be interesting. He was interesting. Sorry you didn't get to connect with him. There is probably a short list of character actors who transitioned from film to film being the same only different in each.
     
  8. raito

    raito Poster Extraordinaire

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    Unfortunately, the first memory to crawl into my mind is this:

    On the one hand, not good for having the problem. On the other, good for completing the program.
     
  9. Tazz3

    Tazz3 Friend of Leo's

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    I loved him in mash he was tough but fair he was like there dad, great actor
     
  10. garryg99

    garryg99 Tele-Meister

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    I remember his role in the 1945 movie State Fair.



    Scroll to 20:35 for his appearance.
     
  11. burntfrijoles

    burntfrijoles Poster Extraordinaire

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    Never forget him in "The Oxbow Incident" with Henry Fonda.
     
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  12. Steve Holt

    Steve Holt Friend of Leo's

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    I remember reading once about how he came to be on MASH. As any MASH fan will recall he played General Steele for one episode. Steele was a crazy General who started out strict but by the end everyone knew he was just insane.

    Anyway, I guess everyone loved Harry Morgan so much that after his one off portrayal they knew that he needed to come back and be a regular. So when McLean Stevenson left they had their guy.
     
  13. burntfrijoles

    burntfrijoles Poster Extraordinaire

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    Yes, I remember that episode. M*A*S*H* was a great series. I think it went over it's life by about a year. It got kind of dark at time but then again, it covered a war (maybe two wars).
     
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  14. rich815

    rich815 Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    Last line of the scene the best, through clenched teeth...."step right up ladies and gentlemen and we're having fun here..."
     
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  15. garytelecastor

    garytelecastor Poster Extraordinaire

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    I remember that episode where they are trying Hawkeye for disobedience to orders and he orders the black helicopter pilot up on the witness stand. "Now no one is blaming or charging you with anything, you were a soldier just following orders. So in your own words, tell us what happened. But first, a song." Pilot-"Sir?" Harry-"A song, let's hear a song". And he goes out of the tent singing Beat your feet on the mississippi mud.' Too hilarious.

    I still sing in the shower, "I love to go swimmin' with bow legged women and swim between their legs". Only for some reason, Margaret Houlihan never comes in and interrupts me.
     
  16. garytelecastor

    garytelecastor Poster Extraordinaire

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    Yeah, it did get dark at times, but he was tremendous at comedy. I think that's what struck me the most. He could take a straight part, like the sheriff in the Shootist, and just by delivery give it life and laughs.
     
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