Rockbrat Remembers: Harry Morgan (1915-2011)

DRAGNET: Harry Morgan as Bill Gannon & Jack Webb as Joe Friday photo (c)

Harry Morgan died yesterday, 7 December, 2011. If you are young, you may not even know who he was. Like the young radio announcer I heard on this morning’s news announcing his death, and that he was best known for his appearances on MASH. Was he? How would she know? What about the more than 100 movies he made? She’s all of 25 which meant that by the time they rolled up the MASH mess tent for the last time in 1982, she wasn’t even born. Unlike this youngun, I, like millions of others knew Harry Morgan for his great role as Detective Bill Gannon on Dragnet in the late 60s and for countless other westerns I’ve seen him in.  I was only watching some old episodes of Dragnet recently and wondered whether Harry was still alive. Sadly, he passed away today. Harry Morgan was born in 1915 and was widely known for his roles as Pete Porter in both December Bride (1954–1959) and Pete and Gladys (1960–1962), Detective Bill Gannon on Dragnet (1967–1970), Amos Coogan on Hec Ramsey (1972–1974), and Colonel Sherman T. Potter in M*A*S*H (1975–1983) and AfterMASH (1983-1984). Additionally, Morgan appeared in more than 100 films. As a western film fan, I’ve seen him in some great westerns, including The Ox-Bow Incident (1943), High Noon (1952), and Bend Of The River with Jimmy Stewart. He also starred opposite John Wayne in the Duke’s last film ‘The Shootist’ in 1976. He did several films in the 1950s for director Anthony Mann, including Thunder Bay (1953), The Glenn Miller Story (1954), The Far Country (1955) and Strategic Air Command (1955). In his later film career he appeared in Inherit the Wind (1960), How the West Was Won (1962), John Goldfarb, Please Come Home (1965), and Frankie and Johnny (1966) with Elvis Presley. Morgan joined the cast of M*A*S*H as Colonel Sherman T. Potter. (The picture of Potter’s wife, on the right side of his desk, is actually that of Eileen Detchon, Morgan’s real-life wife at the time). In 2006, Morgan was inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. Harry Morgan – R.I.P……Cowboy Col

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