William Christopher, an actor best known for his role as Father Francis Mulcahy on M.A.S.H., died Saturday, December 31, according to multiple reports. He was 84.
Christopher died of lung cancer at his home in Pasadena, California, with his wife, Barbara, by his bedside, agent Robert Malcolm told The Hollywood Reporter. Christopher was diagnosed 18 months ago and was reportedly responding well to treatment until early December.
"Two weeks ago, he took a turn for the worse," Malcolm said in a statement to the site on New Year's Eve. "Hospice began this week at his home, and he went peacefully without pain this morning."
Born in Evanston, Illinois, Christopher started his career in a number of Off Broadway productions before moving to Hollywood in search of a TV gig. He made guest appearances on several beloved series including The Andy Griffith Show, The Patty Duke Show, Good Times and Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.
In 1972, Christopher landed the role of Father Mulcahy on M.A.S.H. as a replacement for predecessor George Morgan, who only appeared in the pilot episode. The comedy series, which followed a group of doctors and staff stationed in South Korea during the Korean War, aired for 11 seasons, from September 1972 to February 1983.
"Our Dear Bill and his goodness are a great argument for there being a heaven," M.A.S.H. star Loretta Swit said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter Saturday. "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."
Christopher, who also appeared on Days of Our Lives in 2012, is survived by his wife and two sons, John and Ned.
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