M*A*S*H icon David Ogden Stiers has died of bladder cancer at age 75.
The star who played the arrogant but charming aristocrat Major Charles Emerson Winchester III on the beloved long- running Korean War sitcom, announced he was gay in 2009.
Ogden Stiers, then 66, told the Oklahoma City blog gossip-boy.com, "I am gay. Very proud to be so."
He joined the cast of "M*A*S*H" in 1977 and in addition to starring in the sitcom, the actor voiced the characters of a number of Disney movies, including Cogsworth in "Beauty and the Beast" and the Archdeacon in "The Hunchback of Notre Dame."
Ogden Stiers said he kept his homosexuality under wraps for years because he feared coming out would hurt his career.
But after coming out, he noted, "I haven't witnessed such things occurring in a long, long time. I should say in regards to this that 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."
However, his fear of facing career problems over being gay persisted, as he mused, "I enjoy working, and even though many have this idealistic belief that the entertainment industry and studios like Walt Disney are gay friendly they weren't always. 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."
Ogden Stiers also added that the flamboyant nature of some of his animated roles contributed to his decision to hide his sexuality.
"Cogsworth, the character I did on 'Beauty and the Beast,' could be a bit flamboyant onscreen, because basically, he is a cartoon," he said. "But they didn't want Cogsworth to become Disney's gay character, because it got around a gay man was playing him."
Asked to respond to Ogden Stiers' comments, a Disney Studio spokesperson told ABC News in 2009, "Casting decisions are made solely on the basis of who is the best actor or actress for any given role."
However, Odgen Stiers also came out years ago because he was hoping to settle down with a man and make their romance public!
"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," he said.
But sadly, it seems that he never found his great love in his final years.
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