David Ogden Stiers, the actor who is best known for playing Major Charles Winchester on TV’s “M*A*S*H,” has come out.
“I am (gay),” the 66-year-old actor said in an interview with the blog Gossip-Boy.com. “Very proud to be so.”
Ogden Stiers revealed that his recent successful career as a voice actor caused him to remain closeted for so many years.
“I enjoy working and 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,” he said. “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 they might allow in a more known actor, they prefer not having to deal with in minor players.”
Ogden Stiers’ voice credits include the characters Cogsworth in “Beauty and the Beast,” both Ratcliffe and Wiggins in “Pocahontas,” and the Archdeacon in “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”
Despite the pressure he felt to remain closeted, the actor said he has no ill will toward his former employers and admits that his own fear might be to blame.
“Many of my fears were in modern times self-invented. 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,” he explained.
“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,” he continued. “These parties likely had heard rumors or harbored suspicions about me and wanted to make sure no embarrassing incidents were forthcoming. Cogsworth, the character I did on ‘Beauty and the Beast’ could be a bit flamboyant on screen, because basically he is a cartoon, but they didn’t want Cogsworth to become Disney’s gay character, because it got around a gay man was playing him. I haven’t witnessed such things occurring in a long, long time.
“I conclude that the work I do now no longer comes attached to once popular discriminations.”