Harry Morgan died today at age 96.
As noted elsewhere on this blog, I loved the man.
Knowing Harry, the last thing he would want is a long gushy eulogy. "Just get on with it, son!" I'm sure he would bellow in that rich deep voice.
So I'll just touch on a few remembrances. His wit. Harry had a thousand stories. That of course comes from appearing in over 100 movies, and probably 10,000 television programs. He once compared the acting styles of two of his co-stars, Spencer Tracy and Elvis Presley. He made several movies with Elvis and once said, "it was just my luck to not be in the really good ones."
All it took to get him talking about Jack Webb and his days on DRAGNET was to say, "How's that?" I'd ask if he ever slept with Spring Byington and he would launch into DECEMBER BRIDE tales. (No, he never did, and yes, I know, most of you have never heard of DECEMBER BRIDE or Spring Byington but it was a treat hearing about the very early days of television from one its true pioneers).
Harry was very much like Colonel Potter. He raised horses, and in fact, in the final episode when he says goodbye to Sophie, that really was one of Harry's horses. The picture on Potter's desk was of Harry's real wife, Eileen. And the only difference in personalities between Harry and Sherman is that Harry held his liquor better.
He could read a scene once, have it completely memorized, and perform it perfectly take after take. And then compliment a callow 26 year-old writer who wrote it and couldn't believe the great Harry Morgan was even in the same room, much less reading his words.
That he died on the Day of Infamy feels somehow right. Colonel Potter symbolized the best of the American soldier -- dedication, sacrifice, compassion, and dignity.
In lieu of tears I give you a salute.
And thanks to television and the MASH reruns that hopefully will play forever, we will always Remember Harry Morgan.
Update: I just posted a lovely note about Harry written by Gary Burghoff. You can find it here.