As the Internet is by now well aware, Harry Morgan died this week, just before Albert Pujols signed with the Angels. (By the way, good joke: “I guess Pujols is so religious he wants to be an Angel.”)
Harry Morgan, of course, was most notable for his portrayal of Col. Sherman T. Potter on M*A*S*H. (And, Dad, the T. stands for Tecumseh. I KNEW you wouldn’t Google it.) He also had roles on shows like Dragnet and something called December Bride (of which I am completely unaware except for reading it on Wikipedia)…but come on. When someone says “Harry Morgan” to you, you either say, “Who’s that?” or if you’re not an idiot, you say “Oh, Col. Potter!”
Like everybody else in the world, I love Col. Potter. I have often said that when I’m watching M*A*S*H, when it’s a Col. Blake episode I like Blake more, but when it’s Potter, I like Potter more…but I’m not sure that’s true. I think I always like Potter more and I just say the thing about Col. Blake because—y’know—those episodes ARE great…but M*A*S*H is one of the few shows (if not the ONLY show) that was blessed with getting better as the main cast changed. As much as we all loved Trapper John, BJ was a stronger, more likeable, more relatable character (and in my opinion is the only one who kept Hawkeye from becoming completely unbearable as the show went on). As much as we loved Frank Burns, Winchester brought a whole new rhythm to the show and gave the cast a common enemy who was also capable of being a friend when it was needed.
…and as much as we all loved Henry Blake, let’s face it…if this were the real army, Blake would’ve been shot by his own men long before his discharge. He wasn’t a leader, he wasn’t in command…he was the butt of the joke. And that’s why we loved him…but Potter was a commander. Potter demanded respect and got it. And he used that respect to become more than a commander—he became the father-figure the show needed. He lent the “Colonel” role a sense of seriousness, but also knew just how to time the jokes and the fun.
Sherman T. Potter is definitely my favorite Colonel.
In tribute to Morgan’s death, I went through the Internet (all of it—I can not un-see what I have seen!) and pieced together some of my favorite Sherman T. Potter quotes. I think the one I end on is appropriate. (And as a side note… Harry Morgan – -> Sherman Potter – -> Harry Potter?)
- Crock of beans!
- Mule fritters!
- Monkey muffins!
- Buffalo bagels!
- Buffalo chips!
- Pony pucks!
- Beaver biscuits!
- Bull cookies!
- Pig feathers!
- Jumpin’ jompers!
- Suffern’ saddlesoap!
- Sufferin’ sheepdip!
- Scuttlebug is as common as cooties in your skivvy!
- Busload of bushwah!
- Mule muffins!
- Road apples!
- Horse hockey!
- Pigeon pellets!
- Great Caesar’s Salad!
- Holy hemostat!
- Jumping Jeosephat!
- Never insult seven men when all you have is a six-shooter.
- I’ve got a soft spot for Klinger. He looks a little like my son, and he dresses a lot like my wife.
- You have to give Winchester a credit. He is bright, educated, and an A-1 surgeon, and with all that he still found room to be a total jerk.
- It always amazes me how a baby can take a normal adult and turn him into a babbling idiot.
- You’ll have to excuse these two, they are themselves today.
- Well, official channels could take forever. I remember when I applied for permission to get married. By the time the papers came through, my son was divorced.
- You know sometimes I think there should be a rule of war saying you have to see someone up close and get to know ’em before it’s okay to shoot ’em.
- Not a quote…but the time he shot the Jeep.
- Listen, when you love somebody, you’re always in trouble. There’s only two things you can do about it: either stop loving ’em, or love ’em a whole lot more.
- …when you become a Colonel, they take the bone out of your head that makes you explain orders.
- I’m a little rusty on procedures for when the payroll has been eaten by a goat.
- Well, boys, it would be hard to call what we’ve been through fun, but I’m sure glad we went through it together. You boys always managed to give me a good laugh right when I needed it most. Never forget the time you dropped Winchester’s drawers in the O.R. ‘Course I had to pretend I was mad at ya, but inside I was laughing to beat all hell.
Stand down Harry. You are hereby discharged from this service. With highest honors.