David Ogden Stiers stood up for stutterers in the real world, too

On M*A*S*H, Winchester stopped a stuttering soldier from being bullied. As a child, Stiers started acting to overcome his own stutter.

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"I should have known better than to give any kind of responsibility to a dummy," a cruel captain tells an injured soldier who is afflicted with a stutter in the M*A*S*H episode "Run for the Money."

Charles Winchester III, often haughty about his own precise, correct pronunciation, comes to the soldier’s defense, warning the captain he’ll be reprimanded if this bullying continues.

For David Ogden Stiers, who played Winchester, this particular story hit close to home.

When he was a young kid growing up, Stiers struggled with a stutter, and it was precisely that reason that he took up acting in the first place.

"I didn’t stutter when the lines were written for me," Stiers told Disabled Dealer Magazine in 2008. "Without lines to read was another story."

As Stiers practiced his lines, his diction improved, until one day his stutter seemed to disappear, almost without him really noticing.

"One day, I noticed that I wasn’t stuttering anymore, with or without lines," Stiers said. "I overcame it by not giving up, by continuing to play roles, and by overcoming my fear of saying something wrong, or sounding stupid."

Just like on the show where Winchester becomes overprotective of the stuttering soldier, Stiers also came to the defense of people struggling with disabilities in the real world. He said this came from a place of compassion, but also of valuing others who likely outshine him in other departments.

"The task of loving people doesn’t have to do with their worst aspects," Stiers said. "It has to do with their best aspects. My feeling, we’re all the same person, but differently expressed. There’s some things I can do others can’t, vice versa. We’re all accomplished. We’re all on the earth, and the more we help each other get our tasks accomplished, the better our lives."

On M*A*S*H, where all walks of life ended up on the gurney, this ethos fit in well, but this special stuttering story featured on the show wasn’t inspired by Stiers, but a different M*A*S*H cast member.

"Run for the Money" was the final episode where B.J. Hunnicutt actor Mike Farrell served as a writer. He had writing credits on four episodes total, but the stuttering in this last story might have harkened the actor back to the very first moment he got brought on to do the show.

In his memoir Just Call Me Mike, Farrell wrote that when M*A*S*H decided to replace Trapper John, they explained how B.J. would depart from the original Hawkeye sidekick by doggedly intending to be faithful to his wife, and then they asked Farrell, "Does that sound interesting?"

"It sounded too good to be true," Farrell wrote. "I summoned all my savoir-faire and tried not to slobber while stuttering through the rest of the conversation."

Stiers encouraged looking past a stutter or any other disability, so you can see how much each person truly has to offer. For Farrell, joining M*A*S*H became a moment where he discovered he had more to offer than just acting, contributing writing and directing, despite being new to both creative tasks.

His stuttering when invited to do M*A*S*H didn’t stop him from reaching that potential any more than Stiers’ persistent stutter stopped him from achieving his ambitions as an actor.

"Ours was a safe setting for me to spread my wings," Farrell confirmed.

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Coldnorth 34 months ago
My nephew stuttered when he was young but his twin didn’t. He was about 10 when he stopped stuttering. His twin never stuttered. I always wondered why only one twin stuttered
RedSamRackham 34 months ago
* The conclusion of that episode where we learn that Major Winchester's sister Honorea is a stutterer is indeed a most heart-warming tear-jerking moment. ♥
Zip 34 months ago
"You saved me, Father. You dipped a bucket into the well of my despair and you raised me up to the light of day."

Just going from memory so that quote might be off by a couple words, but that is one of my favorite Charles quotes, from the Christmas episode where Fr. Mulcahy had written to Charles' parents and had them send him his winter stocking cap since he was feeling so down.
nightshade 34 months ago
Heres an odd fact i know all of the main cast except Alan Alda appeared on murder she wrote at least on and David did 2 or 3 times usually as a Russian ....
WordsmithWorks 34 months ago
"The task of loving people doesn’t have to do with their worst aspects. It has to do with their best aspects." How true is that?

Since people are talking about their favorite Winchester episode, I'll say that my favorite Winchester scene is between him and Hawkeye in the bowling episode. "Where I have a father, you have a dad." Good stuff.
Yes, I agree. That's one of my favorite Winchester "insights", and rare because he shares it with someone else. Also when Klinger helps him donate secretly to the orphanage at Christmas.
But probably my favorite Winchester "bit" is the episode where people are up all night because of the unrelenting heat. Winchester is sitting in the mess tent doing the family's taxes, with papers spread everywhere, when Igor comes in to start breakfast. The look of sheer horror on Stiers' face when "Igor" helpfully turns on the big fan to cool him down is an utterly priceless performance.
harlow1313 WordsmithWorks 34 months ago
"The task of loving people doesn’t have to do with their worst aspects. It has to do with their best aspects." How true is that?

Well, as a stand alone, I find it a bit simplistic. Surely a person's worst aspects must be considered. For instance, I may find it difficult to love Jeffrey Dahmer, or the Sandy Hook killer.
WordsmithWorks harlow1313 34 months ago
Still a nice sentiment.
JHP 34 months ago
you'd never know

I was amazed at him on the MTM show
frances3agape 34 months ago
Stiers always impressed me.
First recollection of seeing him was on MARY TYLER MORE (3 episodes), PHYLLIS and RHODA (2 episodes), right before MASH began.
My faves are "The Pedestrian" in RAY BRADBURY THEATER and "Fathers and Sons" in FRASIER.

Check out his bio at https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001773/bio?ref_=nm_ov_bio_sm
Woefully lacking in depth, it makes up for in interesting quotes and tidbits
GREAT info on his roles at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Ogden_Stiers -
LOTS of movie and tv shows I had no idea he was in!
I had forgotten that he had passed in 2018. RIP
The "Fathers and Sons" episode on Frasier was one of the best. I think that was pretty close to how David Ogden Stiers was in real life.
GreggFritchle 34 months ago
People forget that, just before joining the "M*A*S*H" cast, Stiers portrayed a stuttering WJM-TV station executive on one of the last episodes of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" in early 1977.
LoveMETV22 GreggFritchle 34 months ago
I didn't know that. Thank You for the share.
The Ted and Georgette Show. Season 7 Episode 16
Ted and Georgette do a show on WJM that becomes a hit, but Georgette would rather stay at home taking care of her family. Guest stars: David Ogden Stiers and Alex Henteloff.
Moverfan LoveMETV22 34 months ago
Dr. Charles Emerson Winchester, this is Arnold Ripner. He claims to be an attorney. (I am still surprised that the writers on Barney Miller had Harris deck that clown instead of Wojo--he'd have still been lying on the floor when the city sold the precinct house.)
Randall 34 months ago
My (probably) favorite Winchester story came during the final season, there was a brilliant concert pianist who lost dexterity in his fingers do to a war injury. With father Mulcahey"s (sorry about the spelling) encouragement he showed this musician that his career wasn't over to this day I can't watch that episode without crying.I wish we had shows like that nowadays!!!
Jon Randall 34 months ago
That was the subplot of "Morale Victory" from Season 8, and it's also my favorite Winchester story.
JHP Jon 34 months ago
to me - my fav Winchester ep was setting up Col Flagg at the card game

"looks like a"

"a clock"
Zip JHP 34 months ago
Charles "10... 0'clock."
Flagg "10 0'clock."
Beta6 Jon 32 months ago
And one of my favorite as well. Anything Winchester did was always a favorite with me. NO matter what it was or what show he was on.
dracos 34 months ago
I always like Winchester and David Ogden Stores. This article just proved they are likeable people
harlow1313 34 months ago
I think the episode where Charles becomes death obsessed has interesting moments. He tries to get a dying soldier to describe what is happening to him.

I have a friend who is a stutterer. She is quite intelligent and kind. She is outspoken, despite the stutter.
harlow1313 34 months ago
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harlow1313 Wilbur88 34 months ago
I think it admirable that she overcomes this small deficiency.
harlow1313 34 months ago
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LoveMETV22 harlow1313 34 months ago
You are 100% correct. It is very admirable when any individual doesn't let a disability or deficiency stop them from making their mark on the world. She is among some of the greatest: Helen Keller, Stephen Hawking and many others.
LoveMETV22 34 months ago
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LoveMETV22 34 months ago
That was a good episode, Enjoy seeing the compassionate aspect of Charles. Another good episode was "Morale Victory" where Charles helps the soldier who was a concert pianist that has an injured hand.
Michael 34 months ago
But didn't "Charles" have a mild stutter?

I've not watched the show in years but he'd be flabbergasted by something someone else said, and a sort of stutter when he responded.

I likely wouldn't think of it as stutter before this post, but there's an element there.
daDoctah Michael 34 months ago
Heck, Bob Newhart made a career out of it.
LoveMETV22 daDoctah 34 months ago
Yes how true. I'm a big Bob Newhart fan. He said in an interview a few years ago:
Bob Newhart: Well, 80 percent of what I am is what they see. I stammer — as you realize; it’s not something I affect. It’s the way I talk. It’s not a stutter, it’s a stammer, the highest form of being a stutterer. At least I think so, though there’s no medical evidence.
Jon LoveMETV22 34 months ago
That's right. As I see it, stammerers repeat syllables, while stutterers repeat letters.
Andybandit 34 months ago
Great story. I think David was a good actor. I don't think Frank would be understanding with someone stuttering. He was rude, racist, and would of walked away from the person stuttering.
MrsPhilHarris 34 months ago
That must be the same episode he listens to a tape recording of his sister Honoria’s voice revealing she is a stutterer.

LoveMETV22 MrsPhilHarris 34 months ago
Yes that is the same episode.
MrsPhilHarris 34 months ago
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MrsPhilHarris Wilbur88 34 months ago
Indeed it was. Probably my fav Winchester episode.
Peter_Falk_Fan 34 months ago
The more I read about David Ogden Stiers, the more I like him.
DITTO ! Please read my post above.
Maverick66 34 months ago
Nothing to do with stuttering, but I always thought Stiers did an excellent job of developing the Winchester character. He went from being a one-dimensional snob to having a truly vulnerable, human side as well.
JKMallaber Maverick66 34 months ago
Interesting how all of them seemed to grow and develop their characters well, with the possible exception of Radar, who like Peter Pan never seemed to change. Possibly why he left.
LoveMETV22 JKMallaber 34 months ago
Just my opinion: I'm kind of glad Radar remained true to form, he was always the one the others could rely on. It was interesting to watch how the other characters developed over the life of the series. There are several good articles on why Radar left the series.
Jon JKMallaber 34 months ago
Radar instead regressed in a way. He was a wily, somewhat worldly, company clerk at the show's beginning, but he seemed to become more naive as the series went on.
JHP Maverick66 34 months ago
you bet yer butt - like frank he was the perfect balance/equalizer to hawkeye and trapper/BJ
JHP LoveMETV22 34 months ago
its called Father Time
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