Sunday, January 1, 2017

William Christopher, 1932-2016

Dear Bill,

I hope you don't mind me calling you Bill, considering that we've never met. But every time I saw someone on the show refer to you, it was as "Bill", not "William." Plus, you seem just so darn friendly that I didn't think you'd mind.

I've never been a believer, of any stripe, but if I had been stationed at the 4077th, I think I would have sought Father Mulcahy out--just to "kick it around", as he liked to say. Father Mulcahy was always so wise, so warm, so understanding, that even though we didn't share any of the same beliefs, you infused the character with such a basic humanity that I never thought you would judge me, no matter how much I might screw up.

You were asked once what M*A*S*H was about, and you cheekily said: "It's about a chaplain in Korea." And while that wasn't strictly true, your presence on the show always offered a stark contrast to the other characters, and the show would have been severely diminished without your presence. And when Father Mulcahy got a big moment--like in "The Interview", "Mulcahy's War", "Dear Sis", or "A Holy Mess"--you knocked it out of the park. In those moments, the show was about a chaplain in Korea!

I grew up on M*A*S*H, and it was an enormous influence on the person I am today. Decades later, I'm still miffed that AfterM*A*S*H--which I watched, er, religiously--was cancelled so unceremoniously, and your character never got a proper goodbye. I like to think Father Mulcahy kept hanging out with his 4077th pals, and continued making life better for anyone who came to him for help. Like the character you so brilliantly played for over a decade, you brought a lot of joy into people's lives.

Rest in peace, William--Bill--Christopher.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Now I lay me down to sleep
A bag of peanuts at my feet.
If I should die before I wake,
Give them to my brother Jake."

Jim from Milwaukee

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