William Christopher, Father Mulcahy on ‘MASH,’ dies at 84

William Christopher, shown in 2008, was on "MASH" from 1972 to 1983.
William Christopher, shown in 2008, was on “MASH” from 1972 to 1983.
(Annie Wells / Los Angeles Times)

William Christopher, the actor who played mild-mannered Father Francis Mulcahy on the hit television series “MASH”, died Saturday at age 84.

Christopher died in his Pasadena home from non-lung small cell carcinoma, his eldest son John Christopher told the Times. The actor played the role of Father Mulcahy from 1972 to 1983 and in the follow-up series “After MASH” from 1983 to 1985.

He graduated from Wesleyan University in Connecticut with a bachelor’s degree in theater arts before landing acting parts in New York, his son said.


He moved to California, where he played recurring roles on 1960s television shows, including “Gomer Pyle” and “Hogan’s Heroes”, and won small movie roles in “The Fortune Cookie” and “With Six You Get Eggroll.”

He was diagnosed with the cancer about 18 months ago and doctors had given him less than a year to live, John Christopher said.

He responded very well to several rounds of chemotherapy treatment and was able to keep the disease at bay until about three weeks ago, when he fell ill.

“He was leading a somewhat normal life until recently,” his son said.

The actor was something like the mellow chaplain he played on “MASH,” John Christopher said.

“He was a very sensitive man,” the son said. “He was a very thoughtful person.”


The actor had a great interest in astronomy and the possibility of life on other planets and moons, such as Jupiter’s icy moon Europa.

Christopher also had great affinity for ancient Greece and Greek literature. He even took on the feat of reading Homer’s “The Iliad” in the original Greek, his son said.

“He would have been known to the other MASH cast with going around with a copy of ‘The Iliad’ and working on that,” his son said.

The actor, whose son Ned has autism, was also known for his charity work on that condition.

William Christopher is survived by his wife Barbara and sons John and Ned.

City News Service contributed to this story.


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9:05 p.m.: This article was updated by staff with comments from William Christopher’s son.

This article was originally published at 7 p.m.