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Harry Morgan is shown on the set of M*A*S*H* in Los Angeles, Sept. 19, 1982. - Provided courtesy of AP / Wally Fong

Harry Morgan of 'M*A*S*H,' 'Dragnet' dead at 96

11/07/2011 by Corinne Heller

Harry Morgan of "M*A*S*H" and "Dragnet" fame has died at age 96.

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The actor passed away at his Los Angeles home on the morning of Wednesday, December 7, after battling pneumonia, his son Charles told the New York Times.

Morgan is survived by his second wife Barbara, his three sons from his marriage to first wife Eileen, who died in 1985, as well as eight grandchildren, the newspaper said.

"M*A*S*H" is based on a 1970 movie and its title stands for "Mobile Army Surgical Hospital." The dark comedy series depicted the lives of staff members of an army hospital in the Korean War. Morgan first appeared on "M*A*S*H" in 1974, playing the eccentric Maj. Gen. Bartford.

A year later, he began portraying Colonel Sherman T. Potter, a role he continued to play on the comedy series until it ended in 1983 and on a short-lived spin-off, "After MASH."

Morgan won an Emmy for his regular role and was nominated 10 times for both of his parts on "M*A*S*H." He also received a nod in 1959 for his role as Pete Porter on the comedy series "December Bride." He was the last surviving cast member of the show, following the 2004 deaths of Dean Miller and Frances Rafferty.

Mike Farrell, a 72-year-old actor who played Captain B.J. Hunnicut on "M*A*S*H," said in a statement obtained by OnTheRedCarpet.com that Morgan was "a treasure as a person, an imp at times, and always a true professional."

"He had worked with the greats and never saw himself as one of them. But he was," Farrell added. "He was the rock everyone depended on and yet he could cut up like a kid when the situation warranted it. He was the apotheosis, the finest example of what people call a 'character actor.' What he brought to the work made everyone better. He made those who are thought of as 'stars' shine even more brightly."

Morgan was born Harry Bratsburg in 1915 in Michigan and began acting in the 1930s in plays. He made his Broadway debut in 1937 in the original production of "Golden Boy," the New York Times reported.

The actor moved to California in 1942, in the middle of World War II, and began his on-screen career. He appeared in several films, such as "High Noon," using the first name Henry - his father's name - before he was cast on "December Bride" in 1954. He reprised his part in a spin-off called "Pete and Gladys," which ran from 1960 to 1962.

Morgan is also known for playing Los Angeles police detective Bill Gannon on the 1960 show "Dragnet." He reprised his part in a 1987 movie that starred Dan Aykroyd and Tom Hanks and on a 1995 episode of the animated comedy series "The Simpsons."

Morgan had recurring roles on many other shows, such as "The Love Boat," "Gunsmoke" and "3rd Rock From The Sun" in the mid-1990s, which saw him play Professor Suter. Morgan's last on-screen role came in 1999, when he starred in a short film called "Crosswalk."

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