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Creator / McLean Stevenson

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Edgar McLean Stevenson Jr. (November 14, 1927 – February 15, 1996) was an American actor from Illinois, best known for playing Lt. Col. Henry Blake in the first three seasons of M*A*S*H.

As famous as his role on the show, however, was how he was written off from it. Despite the show's success, Stevenson began to resent playing a supporting role to Alan Alda's wisecracking Hawkeye, and asked to be released from his contract during the show's third season. The show's writers reluctantly penned him an exit in the Season 3 finale "Abyssinia, Henry", in which Lt. Colonel Blake was discharged and boarded a plane home — only for it to be shot down, killing everyone on board. As a result of his infamous exit, his name became shorthand in the industry for instances of Actor Leaves, Character Dies, known as McLeaned.note  "McLeaned" was also the original name of that trope here.

Stevenson's post-M*A*S*H career suffered, with multiple attempts to star in another show turning into ratings flops. However, he did enjoy some success as a regular on such game shows as Pyramid, The Hollywood Squares, and Match Game and as a frequent guest on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.

Stevenson was married three times. He died in 1996 at the age of 68 as a result of a heart attack. (By a rather eerie coincidence, Roger Bowen — who'd played the Blake character in the film version of M*A*S*H — died the following day, and of the same cause.)

His great-grandfather William Stevenson was brother of U.S. Vice President Adlai Stevenson I, making McLean a second cousin once removed of 1952 and 1956 presidential nominee Adlai Stevenson II.

Film Roles

Television Roles