Monday, March 5, 2018

David Ogden Stiers - #MusicMovesMe

I mourn the passing of David Ogden Stiers in today's #MusicMovesMe post.

But first - who are the 4Mers, or the Music Moves Me folks?

The Head 4M'er is XmasDolly.  Her co-4Mers are:  Callie of JAmerican Spice, and ♥Stacy of Stacy Uncorked♥   And last but certainly not least, Cathy from Curious as a Cathy.
Each week we have a theme (unless it is a freebie week, during which we can blog about anything musical) So today, I take a detour into the 1970's and early1980's.

One of my all time favorite shows was M*A*S*H, which took place in a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital during the Korean War.  The show documented various surgeons and nurses and their wartime experiences.  One of the surgeons, Charles Emerson Winchester the III (and woe to you if you forgot "the Third"), was an upper-crust Bostonian who started his stint of duty so full of himself you couldn't stand him.

But David Ogden Stiers portrayed Dr. Winchester as a complicated man - one who found his refuge from the war in music.  When times were slow, Winchester would listen to classical music in his shared tent on his record player.

In the very last episode of the series, one of the most watched TV episodes of all time (in fact, except for various Super Bowls, it was the most watched), Winchester runs across five Chinese soldiers, and afraid for his life, expects to die.  Instead, the soldiers turn out to be musicians, who end up surrendering to him.  

Winchester decides to teach the musician prisoners Mozart's Clarinet Quintet for Clarinet and Strings in A.  (This is long, so you may want to just listen to the very beginning).

But, too soon, the Chinese musicians are led away for a prisoner of war exchange.

Soon after, a shipment of wounded arrives.  Winchester recognizes one of the wounded - he's one of "his" musicians.  Another medic tells Winchester the other four musicians were already dead.

Winchester retreats to his tent, and starts to play the Mozart record of the Quintet in A he owns - only to pull off the record from the record player and smash it.  The music that had been his escape from war was now a reminder of its horrors.  In my opinion, this was one of the most powerful scenes in a powerful TV series.

In real life, David Ogden Stiers, who died Saturday at the age of 75 from cancer, was both an actor and a musician.  He was the resident conductor of the Newport Symphony Orchestra, and served as a guest conductor for some 30 American orchestras during his lifetime.

I had almost chosen the M*A*S*H opening theme for my "Music Themes of TV and Movie " and today, I would like to close with its theme, written by Johnny Mandel, called "Suicide is Painless".


  1. His talent will be missed. He did a lot of voice work for Disney. As the villain in “Pocahontas” he had quite a solo with this song:

  2. I never got into MASH. (Perhaps I was too involved with the design of the MUST?). But, I did love the MASH theme!

  3. I mourn him as well. I'm a huge MASH fan and own all the DVD's and can recite each line. Yup. I'm a nut. Stiers brought a different sensibility to the show - someone more likable than Frank Burns, a testament to Stiers acting. He loved classical music both on TV and IRL. The scene you write of was heartbreaking. I also loved the one with about his sister who stuttered - a loving brother. Thanks for writing this about such a fine man who left us too soon.

  4. Alana,

    Ahh, I'm sorry to hear the mews! He played Charles very well on M*A*S*H. What a nice tribute and I appreciated coming away from your post a little more educated about the man. I did not know that in life he was a mewsician, too. Thank you for sharing with the 4M crew today, dear friend and have an awesome week!

  5. I always loved that show and I remember that particular episode. You always bring back some sort of memory for me and I always look forward to it.

  6. I'm devastated. I hadn't heard. Just thinking about that episode makes me tear up. In spite of its humour (or maybe because of it) M.A.S.H. always got me right in the feels.

  7. I loved this show and him too....I miss shows like this so much!

  8. Sad news. He was great on the show and also in Beauty in the Beast (The Disney Version).

  9. For some reason I was a hit or miss Mash fan. I babysat in HS for a family that the dad looked and acted like the character Charles and he was a doctor! A real pain in the ass but when I was filling out college forms he asked if I wanted him to write a recommendation for me for my applications. Shocked I was touched!

  10. Beautiful tribute. I loved MASH.

  11. Whoa! Watched MASH and loved it but don't remember it too well. I missed Trapper John so I never quite appreciated Cpl Winchester.

  12. Oh wow, totally a bummer that's for sure! I loved MASH and the reruns were even better! ~hehehe~ Love your tribute that's for sure. Thank you so much! big hugs

  13. Wonderful tribute to Mr. Stiers, he was an accomplished man.

  14. I was stunned to hear the news yesterday. A truly great talent.

  15. Very talented man for sure. I too am a M*A*S*H fan and I have very fond memories of that series finale. I was in college and all us girls in the dorm gathered in the TV room with popcorn and all of us cried at the end. That was so long ago!
    Thanks for featuring David Ogden Stiers. Very nice tribute!

    Michele at Angels Bark


Thank you for visiting! Your comments mean a lot to me, as long as they are civil, are on topic, and do not contain profanity, advertising of any kind, links or spam. Any messages not meeting these criteria will immediately be composted, and my flowers will enjoy their contents.