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William Christopher, best known for playing Father Mulcahy on the hit sitcom M*A*S*H, died Saturday of lung cancer, his agent confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter. He was 84.
Christopher passed away at his home in Pasadena, with his wife by his bedside, at 5:10 a.m. on New Year's Eve, according to a statement from his agent. He was diagnosed a year and a half ago and had been responding well to treatment up until a month ago, when the disease reappeared.
"Two weeks ago, he took a turn for the worse," the statement reads. "Hospice began this week at his home, and he went peacefully without pain this morning."
M*A*S*H star Loretta Swit, who played Major Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan, shared in a separate statement to THR: "Our Dear Bill and his goodness are a great argument for there being a heaven. I never heard him complain or lose his temper. Everyone adored him. A great sense of humor and a great humanitarian. He became TV's quintessential padre as Father Mulcahy on M.A.S.H. It was the most perfect casting ever known. He was probably responsible for more people coming back to the church. If God is nigh, then surely he or she will welcome Bill with open arms."
The actor guest-starred on multiple TV shows such as The Patty Duke Show and Good Times before landing his recurring role as Private Lester Hummel on Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.He later landed the part of his most recognized character, Father Francis Mulcahy, in 1972 and played the role until the sitcom's end in 1983. He reprised his part in the sitcom's followup series After M*A*S*H from 1983 to 1985.
Christopher most recently appeared in several episodes of Days of Our Lives in 2012.
His death comes one year after M*A*S*H co-star Wayne Rogers died at age 82 on New Year's Eve in 2015.
The actor is survived by his wife Barbara and two sons, John and Ned.