McLean Stevenson was a well-known American actor who played Lt. Colonel Henry Blake in the hit television series ‘M*A*S*H.’ Despite having a theatre degree, Stevenson spent his early years working in a variety of occupations. He also served in the US Navy for a short time. He rose to renown, however, as an actor, a profession he chose at his cousin’s suggestion. Stevenson debuted in the 1960s after a late start. Early roles on ‘The Doris Day Show’ and other guest appearances on TV programs helped him get the position of Lt. Colonel Henry Blake in the highly acclaimed series ‘M*A*S*H.’ Stevenson’s career was on the fall after he left ‘M*A*S*H.’ Apart from M*A*S*H, he is most known for his roles in ‘The McLean Stevenson Show,’ ‘Hello Larry,’ and ‘Condo,’ all of which he appeared in later in his career. He also appeared in a number of feature films. He was a guest panelist on the popular game program ‘Match Game’ in the early 1980s. In the miniseries Tales of the City,’ he made his final appearance on television. Stevenson died not long after.
Childhood & Early Life
Edgar McLean Stevenson Jr. was born to Edgar and Lottie McLean on November 14, 1927, in Normal, Illinois. Ann Whitney, his sister, was a well-known actress.
After graduating from Lake Forest Academy, he enlisted in the US Navy. He chose to study theatre at Northwestern University after serving his country. After earning his bachelor’s degree, he pursued a career in radio.
While he had aspirations to work in Hollywood, Stevenson’s life was essentially aimless. He was able to support himself by selling medical supplies and insurance. He continued to work as a press secretary and with the radio station.
When Stevenson went to New York for a political function in 1961, his cousin recommended he to get into the show industry since he had the charisma. While studying, he stayed in New York and performed in nightclubs and comedy events.
Stevenson received a scholarship to the American Musical and Dramatic Academy, which aided him in breaking into the business. He didn’t make his big-screen debut until after he graduated from the academy.
Cause of Death
On February 15, 1996, Stevenson was recovering from bladder cancer surgery at Encino-Tarzana Regional Medical Center when he died of a heart attack.
In Los Angeles, he is buried in the Forest Lawn – Hollywood Hills Cemetery. The day after Stevenson died, Roger Bowen, who played Henry Blake in the 1970 film MASH, died of a heart attack.
Personal & Family Life
McLean Stevenson was married three times. His first marriage lasted from 1957 to 1960, and it was to Polly Ann Gordon. In May 1969, he married Louise Herbet. Their marriage, however, did not work out, and the couple divorced in 1971. Jeff MacGregor, the couple’s son, was born to them.
He married Ginny Fosdick in December 1980, and the two remained together until his death in February 1996. Lindsey Stevenson is the couple’s daughter. McLean Stevenson, who was 68 years old at the time, died on February 15, 1996, in Los Angeles, California. He was recovering from surgery at Encino-Tarzana Regional Medical Center when he went into cardiac arrest.
In 1969, McLean Stevenson made his television debut in the series ‘The Girl.’ Later that year, he was cast in a larger part in the comedic TV series ‘The Doris Day Show.’ From 1969 to 1971, he played Michael Nicholson in the show for 49 episodes over three seasons.
He acted in a number of TV movies in 1971, including ‘Mr. and Mrs. Bo Jo Jones,’ ‘My Wives Jane,’ and the feature-length picture ‘The Christian Licorice Store.’ He also appeared in the TV shows ‘The Bold Ones: The New Doctors’ and ‘Love, American Style as a guest star.
Stevenson had made his position in the industry despite his late start. In 1972, he was cast as Lt. Col. Henry Blake in the critically acclaimed comedic war series ‘M-A-S-H.’ This proved to be a watershed moment in his career.
In 1972, he also appeared in the TV movie ‘This Week in Nemtim’ and a guest appearance on the TV show ‘Insight.’ Stevenson was only seen in a few films, such as ‘Shirts/Skins (1973) and ‘Win, Place, or Steal,’ until 1975, when he entirely immersed himself in filming for ‘M-A-S-H.’ (1974).
His portrayal of Lt. Col. Henry Blake propelled him to stardom when ‘M-A-S-H‘ became a smash hit. Over the course of three seasons, he appeared in 72 episodes of the show. His performance earned him six accolades and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor in a Television Series.
Steven, in addition to appearing on ‘M-A-S-H,’ also penned an episode called ‘The Trial of Henry Blake.’ The episode garnered positive reviews from reviewers and fans alike, and it was nominated for an Emmy award in 1974.
Stevenson landed greater jobs after the popularity of ‘M-A-S-H.’ From 1976 to 1977, he played Mac Ferguson in the TV series ‘The McLean Stevenson Show,’ in which he starred in twelve episodes.
He made his television debut in 1978 as Father Daniel M. Cleary in the series ‘At the Beginning,’ in which he performed for nine episodes. He also played Link in the sci-fi comedy ‘The Cat from Outer Space.’
Stevenson made his television debut in the family drama ‘Diff’rent Strokes’ in three episodes in 1979. The show’s popularity grew as a result of his appearances on ‘Hello, Larry,’ where he played Larry Alder for two seasons and 38 episodes.