David Ogden Stiers, a star of MASH and a voice of beloved characters in animated films, has passed away at 75.
Stiers died Saturday of bladder cancer at his Newport, Ore., residence, according to a tweet from his manager, Mitchell K. Stubbs. "His talent was only surpassed by his heart," Stubbs wrote.
The actor portrayed Major Charles Emerson Winchester III on MASH, a hit series, which ran from 1972 to 1983, about doctors during the Korean War. He received two Emmy nominations for the role.
A Juilliard-trained Broadway performer, Stiers went on to become an in-demand voice actor for animated movies. He is known for many parts in Disney films, including Cogsworth in Beauty and the Beast, the Archdeacon in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Governor Ratcliffe in Pocahontas.
Stiers came out as gay at age 66 in 2009, telling gossip-boy.com, "I am [gay]. Very proud to be so." He revealed he had kept quiet about his identity for many years, because he feared he would lose roles if he came out.
"I enjoy working, and even though many have this idealistic belief that the entertainment industry and studios like Walt Disney are gay friendly," he said. "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. ... A lot of my income has been derived from voicing Disney and family programming."
"Cogsworth, the character I did on Beauty and the Beast, could be a bit flamboyant on screen, because basically he is a cartoon,” Stiers added. "But they didn’t want Cogsworth to become Disney’s gay character, because it got around a gay man was playing him."
However, it was Stiers's wish to be an out man before he died.
"I wish to spend my life's twilight being just who I am," he said. "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, and I do not desire to force any potential partner to live a life of extreme discretion with me."
After Stiers's death, many colleagues and fans took to social media to share memories and farewells.