Where do you go after earning two Emmy nominations for co-starring in the most successful sitcom in television history? While that latter superlative could be argued, nobody can argue the fact that more people tuned into the M*A*S*H finale than any other program at that time. So, if you’re David Ogden Stiers, how do you follow that up? For Stiers, the future was right there in his past.
Way before he landed in Korea, David Ogden Stiers landed onscreen with a small role in Drive, He Said, making his cinematic debut in the Jack Nicholson-directed independent film. However, it was an offscreen role that same year that would inform Stiers’ later career. That same year, Stiers would appear in a movie that would end up being much more important, both personally and historically. Although he’s never seen onscreen, 1971 saw Stiers performing in George Lucas’ THX 1138. Obviously, the movie was important in the course of film history; Lucas would take what he learned and apply it to later projects like Star Wars. THX 1138 was important in a different way, though, for Stiers, as it was his first-ever voice-over role.
When M*A*S*H wrapped in 1983, David Ogden Stiers began the rest of his life by appearing in a handful of movies; some were released in theaters and others were made for TV. He spent the remainder of the decade performing in various Perry Mason television films.
A big shift came in 1991. Walt Disney Feature Animation released Beauty and the Beast to critical and commercial success, becoming one of the highest-grossing movies ever and garnering a series of Academy Award nominations. Stiers’ earlier voice-over experience paid off, as he was cast as Cogsworth in the animated blockbuster. His role won him praise and led to more voice work; the following year, Japanese animation house Studio Ghibli hired Stiers to voice a role in the English dub of their new film Porco Rosso.
His relationship with Disney built throughout the rest of his career. He briefly detoured through Australia to voice a koala in the financially disappointing Napoleon before rejoining the Mouse House for back-to-back voice roles. Stiers caught the tail-end of the Disney Renaissance, voicing Governor Ratcliffe in Pocohantas and Archdeacon in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. He would continue to voice his tightly-wound Beauty and the Beast character Cogsworth in further direct-to-video features, while also joining the cast of Disney/ABC’s Saturday morning cartoon Teacher’s Pet.
For an entire generation, though, Stiers’ most recognizable voice role came in 2002, when he gave life to the character Dr. Jumba Jookiba in Disney’s Lilo & Stitch. The film was a box office success, becoming the second highest-grossing animated movie of the year, right behind Fox’s Ice Age. In addition to the movie’s lucrative merchandising deals, the story would continue to live on through several direct-to-video features and an animated series, all of which featured Stiers.
The best part of Stiers’ second chapter? The kids who were Stich fans never asked him about M*A*S*H!