William Christopher, Father Mulcahy on ‘M*A*S*H,’ dies

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UNIVERSAL CITY, CA - APRIL 19: (L-R) Wayne Rogers, Mike Farrell, Alan Alda, Loretta Swit and William Christoper, Cast of MASH at the 7th Annual TV Land Awards held at Gibson Amphitheatre on April 19, 2009 in Universal City, California. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

(CNN) — William Christopher, known for his portrayal of chaplain Father Mulcahy on the beloved TV show “M*A*S*H,” has died, his agent told CNN.

Christopher passed away Saturday morning, agent Robert Malcolm said. The actor was 84.

The actor had a small carcinoma and had been diagnosed about 18 months ago, said his son, John Christopher, who added that his father was doing great until two or three weeks ago when his health started to decline.

William Christopher was at home in Pasadena, California, with his wife Barbara when he passed peacefully and without pain, Malcolm said.

Born in Evanston, Illnois, Christopher started his acting career in New York City in several off-Broadway productions that eventually led to Broadway shows, CNN affiliate KTLA said.

He won his biggest fame with “M*A*S*H,” the popular series that ran for 11 seasons from 1972 until its high-rated finale in February 1983.

The show, based on the 1970 movie, centered on Army surgeons and staffers during the Korean War. Characters such as chief surgeon Hawkeye Pierce (Alan Alda) dished out wry humor as they dealt with the stress of wartime.

The Father Mulcahy character was the spiritual leader of the medical complex in South Korea, the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital.

“His pals from #MASH miss Bill powerfully. His kind strength, his grace and gentle humor weren’t acted. They were Bill,” tweeted Alda, Christopher’s former co-star, on Sunday.

Even though he played a Catholic priest, in real life Christopher was a Methodist, according to the Internet Movie Database.

Christopher had many other parts in TV and film. He voiced Angel Smurf on “The Smurfs” TV series, appeared in “Murder, She Wrote,” was a priest in 1994’s “Heaven Sent,” and portrayed Father Tobias on the daytime soap, “Days of Our Lives,” in 2012.

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