Watching MAS*H, we see actors tossing footballs or driving golf balls, and it turns out that on-camera “skills” like these were part of the audition process when casting the show.
So when Harry Morgan came on as Colonel Potter, producers asked him what he liked to do in his free time, hoping to find out about a fun way they could use Morgan on camera. He surprised them by not answering golf or football like most folks. Instead, Morgan said his hobby was horses.
At home with his wife in Santa Rosa, California, Morgan owned a ranch on 15 acres, where he raised quarter horses — not to race them, but just as beloved pets.
“Been up there 20 years,” Morgan told The Wichita Eagle in 1982. “Used to raise quarter-horses. But working on MAS*H, I had little time to enjoy them.”
It must’ve helped a little, then, that MAS*H producers took Morgan’s hobby and incorporated it into Colonel Potter’s character immediately, making him a cavalryman and giving him a horse named Sophie to appear in some episodes of the show.
Attentive fans have picked up on the fact that Sophie was not just one horse “actor,” but many, as the show would work with whatever horse they could get on set for the day. But at least this means Morgan got to meet a bunch of new horses to pass the time with!
And you should know that for the final appearance of Sophie in the MAS*H finale, Morgan told The Pittsburgh Post Gazette in 2011 that producers brought in one of Morgan’s own quarter horses for the special scene where Potter says goodbye to Sophie.
Now when you see that touching scene, you’ll not only know that he’s being tender with his own pet, but also that the truth is it was no goodbye at all — Sophie went home with Harry when the credits rolled!