David Ogden Stiers, stage, television, film, and voice actor passed away Saturday, March 3, 2018, at his home in Newport, Oregon.
He was born October 31, 1942, in Peoria, Illinois, to Margaret Elizabeth (nee Ogden) and Kenneth Truman Stiers. The family later moved to Eugene, Oregon. Stiers began his professional acting career at the age of 20, with the Santa Clara Shakespeare Festival. Following a seven-year stint with them, he studied drama at Juilliard. There, he also trained his iconic baritone voice and took part in Broadway productions. During his 55-year acting career, he also taught drama at Santa Clara University and improv at Harvard. Stiers was also an avid classical music fan and conducted many orchestras in his lifetime. IMDb’s trivia section reports that he has a son born in the 1960s, but does not give his name. It will be of note to some fans that Stiers came out as gay in 2009.
David Ogden Stiers: An Unmistakable Voice
All of that, perhaps, comes as no surprise to slightly older fans who knew him best as Major Charles Emerson Winchester III on TV’s MASH. Major Winchester was both refined and snobbish, and Stiers’ talents and background made it possible for him to bring this character to vivid, believable life. I knew his voice long before I knew his face, just from hearing my parents watching MASH after I’d gone to bed.
Younger fans, however, will most likely know him mainly by his voice. Stiers voiced several Disney cartoon characters, most recognizably Cogsworth in Beauty and the Beast (1991) and Governor Ratcliffe in Pocahontas (1995). He also voiced Penguin in Warner Bros.’ direct-to-video Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman (2003). Stiers voiced several video game characters as well, some of them reprises of his Disney voice roles.
David Ogden Stiers was nominated in his lifetime for three Primetime Emmy Awards, an Annie, and a Grammy. He shared the TV Land Impact Award with the rest of the cast of MAS*H in 2009. He was relatively young, at 75, and fans will sorely miss his contributions to the entertainment world.