obit: Father Francis Mulcahy


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William Christopher as Father Francis Mulcahy on the hit 1970s-1980s sitcom “M*A*S*H.” Credit 20th Century Fox, via Everett Collection
William Christopher, the actor best known for his role as Father Francis Mulcahy on the hit 1970s-1980s sitcom “M*A*S*H,” died on Saturday at his home in Pasadena, Calif. He was 84.
The cause was cancer, his agent, Robert Malcolm, said. He added that Mr. Christopher had received the diagnosis a year and a half ago and had responded well to treatment until recently.
Mr. Christopher began his acting career in Broadway and Off Broadway productions in New York before pursuing television work in Los Angeles. He appeared on a number of popular shows, including “The Andy Griffith Show,” “The Patty Duke Show,” “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.,” “Hogan’s Heroes” and “The Love Boat.”
Mr. Christopher’s character on “M*A*S*H,” Father Mulcahy was a soft-spoken Roman Catholic chaplain assigned to a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital during the Korean War. The series ran from 1972 to 1983 on CBS.He reprised the role of Father Mulcahy in “After M*A*S*H,” a spinoff that aired from 1983 to 1985 and followed some of the show’s main characters as they resumed civilian life after the war’s end.
“He became TV’s quintessential padre,” Loretta Swit — who co-starred on “M*A*S*H” as the nurse Margaret Houlihan, better known as Hot Lips — said in a statement. “It was the most perfect casting ever known. He was probably responsible for more people coming back to the church.”