For a time, he played the most visible Catholic priest on American television—arguably the most recognizable man of the cloth since Archbishop Fulton Sheen.
William Christopher, the actor best known for playing Fr. Francis Mulcahy on the smash sitcom “MASH,” has died, CBS Los Angeles reports. He was 84. Christopher’s son confirmed his death to CBS Los Angeles. The Illinois-born Christopher’s other acting credits included “Hogan’s Heroes,” “Gomer Pyle,” “That Girl” and “Columbo.” But it was “MASH” that made Christopher famous. He appeared in more than 200 episodes of the acclaimed series. A Methodist off-camera, he played the kindly and gentle Catholic priest on the CBS sitcom from 1972-1983. He also appeared in the spinoff “After MASH” (1983-85.) He also played Fr. Tobias on “Days of Our Lives” in 2012. Christopher married his wife Barbara in 1957. They had two sons. The actor was also well-known for his work with the autism community, one of his two sons had autism. He and Barbara wrote “Mixed Blessings” in 1985, a book about the joys and challenges of having a child with autism.
His co-star Loretta Swit wrote in a statement:
“Our Dear Bill and his goodness are a great argument for there being a heaven. I never heard him complain or lose his temper. Everyone adored him. A great sense of humor and a great humanitarian. He became TV’s quintessential padre as Father Mulcahy on M.A.S.H. It was the most perfect casting ever known. He was probably responsible for more people coming back to the church. If God is nigh, then surely he or she will welcome Bill with open arms.”
Eternal rest, Father Mulcahy. You’ve earned it.