William Christopher Biography

William Christopher, best known for his role as Father Mulcahy in the popular television series ‘MASH’, had a passion for acting from a young age. After graduating with a degree in drama and acting, he began his career in theatre before moving on to Off-Broadway and Broadway productions. Eventually, he made the move to New York and found success on the small screen with various guest appearances and supporting roles. However, it was his role in ‘MASH’ that truly catapulted him to fame. Lasting for two decades, the series was a major hit and Christopher’s portrayal of Father Mulcahy was highly acclaimed. Alongside his television work, he also appeared in several feature films.

Quick Facts

  • Died At Age: 84
  • Family: Spouse/Ex-: Barbara Christopher (m. 1957), children: John Christopher, Ned Christopher
  • Actors
  • Comedians
  • Height: 5’9″ (175 cm), 5’9″ Males
  • Died on: December 31, 2016
  • Place of death: Pasadena, California, United States
  • Diseases & Disabilities: Lung Cancer
  • Cause of Death: Lung Cancer
  • City: Evanston, Illinois
  • U.S. State: Illinois
  • More Facts
  • Education: Wesleyan University

Childhood & Early Life

William Christopher was born on October 20, 1932 in Evanston, Illinois, US. His family was the direct descendant of the revolutionary leader, Paul Revere. He completed his formal education from New Trier High School after which he moved to Middletown Connecticut to enroll at the Wesleyan University. He graduated from the same with a BA in drama. While pursuing his acting training at the university, he found himself musically inclined and became a member of the glee club, singing and playing piano. He even enjoyed playing soccer and fencing and reading classical Greek literature in their original format. At the University, he was also a member of the Sigma Chi Fraternity.

Career

Post-college, he landed himself in his first acting job with the Barnstormers Theatre group in New Hampshire. It was New England’s oldest summer theatre. He then moved to New York City to be at the helm of entertainment affairs and provide himself complete exposure and opportunity. However, after much struggle, he found for himself several roles in only regional productions. After a string of appearances at local productions, he found himself a role in an Off-Broadway Productions at One Sheridan Square for ‘The Hostage’. Eventually, he made his Broadway debut with the theatrical, ‘Beyond the Fringe’, a British revue. Banking on the ever widening scope of entertainment, he moved base to New York and tried his luck at the small screen which promised a good future. He starred in a guest role in ‘The Andy Griffith Show’. Later on, he made guest appearances in several shows including, ‘Death Valley Days’, ‘The Patty Duke Show’, ‘The Men from Shiloh’, ‘The Love Boat’ and ‘Good Times’. He even bagged a recurring role in ‘Gomer Pyle’, ‘U.S.M.C.’ and ‘That Girl and Hogan’s Heroes’. While his television career was going great, he took up a couple of roles in feature films, starting with, ‘The Fortune Cookie’ and ‘With Six You Get Eggroll’, a Doris Day film. Other films that he worked on include, ‘The Private Navy of Sgt. O’Farrell’, ‘The Shakiest Gun in the West’ and ‘Hearts of the West’. Furthermore, he played a supporting actor in telefilms ‘The Movie Maker’, ‘The Perils of Pauline’, and ‘For the Love of It’. It was his spectacular performance in ‘Hogan’s Heroes’ and ‘That Girl’ that eventually led him to audition for a role in the television dramedy, ‘M A S H’. The series was inspired after a 1970 film of the same name and a Korean War novel by Richard Hooker. Interestingly, during the audition, instead of sticking to the script, he ad-libbed his own lines completely ignoring the monologue prepared. As such, the role of U.S. Army Chaplain Captain John Francis Patrick Mulcahy was offered to George Morgan.

M A S H and Later Career

Due to a lack of competency and spontaneity, Morgan was ousted from the show. The role was then offered to Christopher but on the condition that he adhered to the lines that were given to him. What started as a recurring role in the ‘M A S H’ series eventually grew up to become a full-fledged cast member. During the initial days, the personality of Mulcahy was not completely developed and thus he portrayed the character as a soft-spoken, naïve, and squeamish person. It was only after being a permanent member that Mulcahy’s character was developed further and he was portrayed as a confident and respected personality. The show lasted for 11 years with the final episode being aired on February 28, 1983. His favorite episodes of the ‘M A S H’ include ‘Dear Sis’ and ‘Mulcahy’s War’. Following the end of the ‘M A S H’, he reprised his role for two more seasons for the CBS short-lived spin-off series called ‘After MASH’. His role included serving as the chaplain suffering the emotional aftermath of his wartime experience. Throughout the 80s and the 90s, he appeared in a number of small screen shows, including ‘Lois & Clark: The New Adventure of Superman’, ‘Diagnosis Murder’, ‘Mad About You’ and ‘Love Boat’. While continuing his stint at the big and small screen, he did not give up on theatre completely and starred in a number of productions including ‘Run for your Wife’, ‘Move Over Mrs. Markhan’, ‘It Runs in the Family’, ‘Don’t Dress For Dinner, ‘Rumors’ and ‘Lend Me A Tenor’. Furthermore, he teamed up with Neil Simon for the show, ‘The Odd Couple’ in 1997. Two years later, he starred in a challenging role depicting Vincent van Gogh and Theo. In 2012, he starred in seven episodes of the television series, ‘Days of our Lives’ playing the character of Father Tabias.

Personal Life & Legacy

He met his to-be wife, Barbara, on a blind date. The two struck it well and eventually tied the nuptial knot. They were blessed with two sons, John and Ned. His younger son is autistic. He is a social activist and dedicates much of his time working for the National Autistic Society to bring attention to autism. He serves as honorary chairman of the National Autistic Society and a member of the board of trustees at the Devereux Foundation, which provided facilities for adults living with autism and other developmental disorders. Other than acting, he gave a shot at writing as well and came up with a book, which was co-authored by his wife, titled ‘Mixed Blessings’. The book dealt with the emotions, reactions, and actions of a family while diagnosing, treating, and understanding a complex disease.

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