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Roger Bowen

Personal information
Birth dateMay 25, 1932
Place of birthAttleboro, Massachusetts
Date of deathFebruary 16, 1996(age 63)
Death placeFlorida

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Roger Bowen (May 25, 1932 February 16, 1996) was an American comedic actor and novelist, known for his portrayal of Lt. Col. Henry Blake in the 1970 film MASH. He often portrayed roles as a stuffy defender of the upper class and had regular roles on a number of television series. His successful acting career aside, Bowen always considered himself a writer who only moonlighted as an actor. He wrote eleven novels (including Just Like a Movie) as well as sketches for Broadway and television. He was also one of the co-founders of Chicago's famed comedy and acting troupe The Second City.

Bowen was born in Attleboro, Massachusetts. He said he was writing theater reviews for the University of Chicago student newspaper when he was asked to pen material for an improvisational troupe that included Alan Arkin and Mike Nichols. The troupe, Compass Players, evolved into The Second City. Bowen spent most of the 1960s playing "preppie" types on a number of TV & radio commercials. His first film role was 1968's Petulia, but his big movie break came in 1970, when he created the role of lackadaisical Blake in the 1970 Robert Altman cult film MASH.

While it was another veteran of TV commercials, McLean Stevenson, who would play Colonel Blake’s role on the long-running M*A*S*H television series, Roger Bowen already had solid exposure in the early 1970s. After MASH, Bowen gained a fan following as "Hamilton Majors Jr.", the pleasantly snooty and supportive Ivy League boss of Herschel Bernardi on the TV sitcom Arnie (1970 72).

After Arnie, Bowen joined the cast of The Brian Keith Show, then returned to commercials and movie cameo roles, showing up briefly in such films as Heaven Can Wait, The Main Event and Zapped!.

In the early 1980s, Bowen enjoyed another round of weekly TV work with recurring roles on House Calls, At Ease, and Suzanne Pleshette is Maggie Briggs. He made his final film appearance in the Bill Murray and Richard Dreyfuss film What About Bob?.

He was a tournament chess player who participated in events in the Los Angeles area in the 1970s.

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