Podzilla 1985

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Goodbye, Farewell and Amen, David Ogden Stiers

I was sad to learn that David Ogden Stiers passed away not long ago.  He was suffering from bladder cancer, and passed away peacefully at 75 in his home.

Like many others I remember him as Major Charles Emerson Winchester the 3rd from M*A*S*H. He was the stuck up rich boy doctor who quickly became the replacement for old ferret face Burns. I always liked him more as a balance to Hawkeye and B.J., and he became more of a team player as the series went on.

His character's love of classical music has always stuck with me. I didn't care for it much as a teen, but over the years I've grown to understand its beauty.

Funny, in some ways I use to feel the same way about M*A*S*H* in general. I wasn't a fan as a kid, and always got bored when my mom would watch it. Yet, as I got older I did get hooked on the reruns. I spent a lot of TV time in high school and college enjoying the show.

Although, that wasn't hard to do when it was being aired ten times a day via three or four different networks. I actually miss watching M*A*S*H*. I may have to break out the few seasons I have on DVD.

My real appreciation for the man though is for his voice work.

For many years he has been a staple of Disney voice acting beginning with his role as Cogsworth, the clock from "Beauty and the Beast." For the longest time I never knew that he was the voice behind the character.

It wasn't until I found a "Disney Art of Animation" book at a yard sale that it was brought to light. The last half of the book was focused on "Beauty and Beast," since it was the newest film at the time of publication.  There was a photo of Ogden Stiers with Angela Lansbury and the late Jerry Orbach. The three made up Cogsworth, Mrs. Pots and Lumiere, respectively.

Recognizing all three talents blew my mind a bit. I had known about Lansbury since I was kid, but seeing Major Winchester was news to me. He also continued to voice Cogsworth in pretty much everything Disney has put him in, from sequels to "House of Mouse" episodes.

In general I was just starting to really notice voice actors in cartoons and movies. I still get a thrill every time I recognize a voice. His role as Cogsworth made me more aware of his voice so it would bring a smile to me when I picked him out in other Disney films.

His next role was in Pocahontes as Governor Ratcliffe. I loved how he helped bring the slimy gold hungry politician to life. Even better was that he played opposite of himself, also filling the role of Ratcliffe's man in waiting, Wiggins. The two characters are so different on so many levels, that most people would never guess they were voiced by the same man.

Wiggins still kills me every time I watch the film.

How often does an actor get to play both the comedian and the straight man at the same time?

He also had small roles in "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" and "Atlantis: The Lost Empire."

 I still love hearing his parts as the Archdeacon during "The Bells of Notre Dame" on the Hunchback soundtrack. The man could sing.

Ogden Stiers also lent his voice as a narrator for most of the Winnie the Pooh stories during the 2000's.

His final major Disney role was as Dr. Jumba Jookiba, the creator of experiment 626. Yes he was a part of "Lilo and Stitch." Like with Cogsworth, he would return to voice the evil scientist for pretty much everything the character was put in, including "Kingdom Hearts." I still love Jumba, he's just so lovably evil and crazy. In the TV show of this series he also voiced several of the other experiments.

I'll even admit that I learned something new when double checking my Disney facts. He also lent his voice to the dubbed version of "Spirited Away." I have watched this film countless times and I never realized that he was Kamaji, the spider man running the heat in the bath house. I can't believe I never noticed that.

Another great actor has left this world, but thanks to film and TV he will not be forgotten.

And I really want to watch "Lilo and Stitch" now.
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