When someone is an actor, on a popular television series, one of the readjustments to fame that they’ll have to make is the sudden influx of mail they’ll receive from viewers. The quality of the letters varies, with some mail being from dedicated fans dying to tell you how much they love the character. But, you also run the risk of drawing the ire of a disgruntled viewer who can’t stand the series and simply has to let you know how they feel.
William Christopher, better known for playing the kind and gentle Father Mulcahy on M*A*S*H, was no stranger to letters from viewers. However, given the profession of his character, there was one group of people who loved sending Christopher mail much more than other M*A*S*H fans: Catholic priests.
According to an interview with The Macon News, Catholic priests frequently wrote William Christopher not with any praise or criticism, per se, but rather, with some advice. The article stated that the priests have advised him that he shouldn’t portray Father Mulcahey as “too naive.”
Whether Father Mulcahy was truly a naive character is up for debate, but it turns out that his other characteristics that fans were more appreciative of weren’t simply an act Christopher put on during his time in the series. After the actor’s death in 2017, costar Alan Alda posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, to remember his old friend and commend him. He wrote, “His kind strength, his grace and gentle humor weren’t acted. They were Bill.”
Christopher wasn’t the first actor to get mail from those in his character’s profession; actors like Barbara Hale and Gail Fisher would receive praise from secretaries for their roles in Perry Mason and Mannix, respectively.
However, Christopher had his own views on how the character should grow and develop in the series. In his opinion, Father Mulcahy needed to be seen “engaging in more priestly duties,” the article reported. Ultimately, Christopher was proud of the character he had portrayed, to the point where he was content to be known to others as Father Mulcahy. In an interview with The Pantagraph, Christopher stated, “I’m delighted that people know me and identify me as being Father Mulcahy. That’s part of being an actor — you get known for things. Why shy away from it? If it’s a liability to be well known as Father, I have to I’ve with that.”
Spoken like his character, Christopher concluded, “I tend to look on the positive side.”