Question: I was watching M*A*S*H recently and the episode was one where the man who plays Col. Sherman Potter was on it, but as a different character. Was this a fluke, or were the producers trying to screen-test him or something? Cat, Shepherdstown, West Va.
Televisionary: It wasn't intentional, Cat, but it served as a screen test just the same. Harry Morgan (Dragnet) joined the long-running series as Potter, replacement for the late Lt. Col. Henry Blake (McLean Stevenson), in 1975. But he first appeared on the show a year earlier as crazy Gen. Bartford Hamilton Steele in the episode "The General Flipped at Dawn."
Morgan impressed the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences enough to garner an Emmy nomination for the guest spot; impressed the producers enough to cast him as Potter, and impressed the Emmy voters enough to win himself a statue in 1980. (He was also nominated five other times for the Potter role.)
Morgan isn't the only star to land a major part on a series after having already appeared as another character in a guest spot, by the way. Dennis Franz, for instance, played rotten detective Sal Benedetto on Hill Street Blues before joining the cast as Lt. Norman Buntz.