The year 2016, dreadful for celebrity deaths, claimed a final victim over the holiday weekend. The actor William Christopher, who played the earnest and affable Father Mulcahy on M*A*S*H, died on Saturday, after a long battle with lung cancer. He was 84.
Christopher’s controlled, but passionate, portrayal of an army chaplain intent on extending compassion and understanding to those suffering in a terrible war zone, earned him the respect of a generation of fans. The role of Father Mulcahy was his most well-known and culturally significant role, lasting 11 years. His portrayal left an indelible impression on the minds and hearts of several generations of television viewers.
The series, an immensely popular comedy with a dark side, didn’t flinch when exploring the harsh realities of war. It followed the travails of the staff of a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital during the Korean War, though it was timely because it served as a foil for a nation coping with the aftermath of the Vietnam War.
After the series, Christopher appeared in small roles on popular series like The Love Boat. He and his wife adopted an autistic son and eventually wrote a book about their experiences and challenges raising him.