M*A*S*H Actor Comes Out

By: Carter Todd
5.5.2009

It took him awhile, but David Ogden Stiers, the 66-year-old actor best known for his role as the wonderfully aristocratic Major Charles Winchester on the iconic television series M*A*S*H, has come out of the closet. Asked by the Gossip Boy blog if he is gay, Stiers replied, "Yes, I am. Very proud to be so."

David-ogden-stiers It took him awhile, but David Ogden Stiers, the 66-year-old actor best known for his role as the wonderfully aristocratic Major Charles Winchester on the iconic television series M*A*S*H, has come out of the closet. Asked by the Gossip Boy blog if he is gay, Stiers replied, "Yes, I am. Very proud to be so."

As for why he decided to come out at this point in his life, Stiers admitted that finding a partner was a big motivator. "I could claim noble reasons as coming out in order to move gay rights forward, but I must admit it is for far more selfish reasons. Now is the time I wish to find someone," he said, "and I do not desire to force any potential partner to live a life of extreme discretion for me."

That said, Stiers, who was long rumored to be gay, has lived a life of extreme discretion up until now. One has to ask why he waited so long to divulge his sexual orientation. The answer? It boils down to career concerns says the actor who has found plentiful work in recent years voicing characters in animated Disney flicks, including Beauty and the Beast (he was Cogsworth), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Archdeacon) and Pocahontas (Stiers voiced Ratcliffe and Wiggins).

Would Disney have really cared about Stiers' sexual orientation? "…even though many have this idealistic belief that the entertainment industry and studios like Walt Disney are gay friendly—for the most part they are, but that doesn't mean for them that business does not come first. It's a matter of economics. Most of my more notable work in the last two decades has been as a voice actor. Certainly, I've done television appearances, be they recurring or guest roles, and numerous motion picture and documentary stints, but a lot of my income has been derived from voicing Disney and family programming. What the might allow in a more known actor, they prefer not having to deal with in minor players," Stiers contended.

To those of you who think that sounds like an excuse, Stiers did concede that some of his reluctance to be open about his sexuality before now may have also come from within. "I should say in regards to this that many of my fears were in modern times invented," he said. "I've been working internally on whether they were the problem, or if I just continued using them as an excuse long after the call for conservative private lives passed. In that, I mean from the late 1980s until about seven or eight years ago, you would find certain individuals coming up to you, me, and advocating the position that since we were doing family fare that it would be best were the actors to maintain a certain palatability to parents."

Anyway, Stiers is out now. Do you think his concerns about being openly gay harming his career were valid? And even if being out is harmful to one's career, do you think it is worth the personal sacrifices actors make when they hide their sexual orientation?

Here are some classic M*A*S*H clips featuring David Ogen Stiers as Major Charles Winchester:

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