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on The Ninth Configuration (1980)
|Born||Edward Paul Flanders
December 29, 1934
|Died||February 22, 1995
Life and career
Flanders was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the son of Bernice (née Brown) and Francis Michael Grey Flanders. Flanders began his acting career on Broadway before moving on to guest parts in television series. From 1967 through 1975, Flanders appeared in more than a dozen American TV shows, including six appearances on Hawaii Five-O (as six different characters). During this time, he was also prolific in TV movies. He also married actress Ellen Geer, with whom he had a son, Ian Flanders (born 1966) before they divorced.
In the late 1970s, Flanders moved away from small TV roles to take major credits in both TV and feature films, while continuing his stage career. In 1974, Flanders won a Tony Award for Best Supporting or Featured Actor in a Dramatic Presentation for A Moon for the Misbegotten by Eugene O'Neill on Broadway, He also won an Emmy award in 1976 for the TV movie adaptation of A Moon for the Misbegotten.
In 1982, he began his role in St. Elsewhere which was to earn him four Emmy Award nominations as Outstanding Lead Actor in a TV Series, winning the award in 1983. After a stormy departure from the series in 1987, he returned for two more episodes including the 1988 series finale. During a scene in which Westphall addressed the staff, Flanders began speaking extemporaneously about the quality of art and had to be edited for broadcast. His exit on St. Elsewhere as a regular cast member was titled Moon for the Misbegotten after the play that won him a Tony Award. The episode gained much publicity as Westphall left the hospital after "mooning" his new boss, Dr. Gideon (played by Ronny Cox). Flanders continued his working relationship with executive producer Bruce Paltrow in the short-lived 1994 CBS series, The Road Home.
In addition to his six-year role as Dr. Donald Westphall, Flanders is noted as the actor who has played President Harry Truman more times, and in more separate productions, than any other. He portrayed Truman, who was President from April 1945 until January 1953, across the end of World War II and most of the Korean War in Truman at Potsdam, Harry S Truman: Plain Speaking, and MacArthur. In the last, Flanders, once again portraying Harry Truman, had second billing to Gregory Peck's lead as General Douglas MacArthur.
In feature films, Flanders performed major roles in two dark movies based on novels by William Peter Blatty. In the first, The Ninth Configuration (1980), he plays Col. Richard Fell, a self-effacing medic at a secret U.S. army psychiatric facility who assists Marine psychiatrist Col. Vincent Kane (Stacy Keach). The film was based on Blatty's darkly satirical novel Twinkle, Twinkle, "Killer" Kane. Then in 1990, Flanders played the avuncular Father Dyer alongside star George C. Scott in Blatty's The Exorcist III based on the novel Legion.
One of Flanders' best-remembered TV guest roles was in the first season M*A*S*H episode "Yankee Doodle Doctor", playing film director Duane William Bricker. Bricker, commissioned as a Lieutenant in the Special Services, is making a documentary about M*A*S*H units and comes to the 4077th on the recommendation of General Clayton. When Hawkeye and Trapper react to Bricker's filmmaking by destroying the negatives, Bricker abandons the project and leaves. Hawkeye takes over the making of the film which, instead of a serious documentary, becomes a farce in the style of the Marx Brothers but maintaining a somber ending which Bricker applauds.
Flanders also played nationally known journalist William Allen White in the 1977 made for TV movie Mary White. This movie was based on the famous eulogy White wrote about his daughter after her death in 1922 from being hit in the head while riding her horse. He also appeared in the 1979 made-for-TV-horror-mini-series Salem's Lot as Dr. Bill Norton. He also played news anchor John Woodley in the 1983 made-for-TV suspense drama Special Bulletin, about a group of environmentalists who threaten to detonate a nuclear weapon in Charleston, South Carolina.
Later life and death
A father of four, Flanders continued working in telemovies in the early 1990s, but was suffering from depression, particularly after his 1992 divorce from his second wife, health issues with back pain from a road accident and financial problems with his ranch in northern California. He took his own life by a self-inflicted gunshot wound on February 22, 1995 in Denny, California.
- 1967 Cimarron Strip (episode: "The Roarer)" as Arliss Blynn
- 1969 Daniel Boone (episode: "The Traitor") as Lackland
- 1971 The Name of the Game (episode: "Beware of the Watchdog") as Lazlo Subich
- 1971 Travis Logan D.A. as Psychiatrist
- 1971 Bearcats! (episode: "Hostages") as Ben Tillman
- 1971 Goodbye, Raggedy Ann (TV movie) as David Bevin
- 1971 McMillan & Wife (episode: "Husbands, Wives and Killers") as Tom Benton
- 1971 Mission Impossible (episode: "Blues") as Joe Belker
- 1972 Mannix (episode: "A Walk in the Shadows") as Tom Farnom
- 1972 Nichols aka James Garner as Nichols (episode: "Fight of the Century")
- 1972 Cade's County (episode: "The Fake") as Ben Crawford
- 1972 Ironside (episode: "Five days in the Death of Sgt. Brown: Part 1") as Phil McIver
- 1972 The Bold Ones: The New Doctors aka The New Doctors (episode: "Five Days in the Death of Sgt Brown: Part II") as Phil McIver
- 1972 M*A*S*H (episode: "Yankee Doodle Doctor") as Lt Dwayne Bricker
- 1972 Banyon (episode: "Just Once") as Sergeant Randall
- 1973 Kung Fu (episode: "The Salamander") as Alonzo Davis
- 1973 Marcus Welby, M.D. aka Robert Young, Family Doctor (episode: "The Comeback") as Magruder
- 1974 Barnaby Jones (episode: "Death on Deposit") as "Doc" Fred Tucker
- 1969–1975 Hawaii Five-O (7 episodes):
- 1969 "Up Tight" as David Stone;
- 1970 "Three Dead Cows at Makapuu" (2-part episode) as Dr Alexander Kline
- 1970 "The Guarmerius Caper" as Dmitri Rostov
- 1972 "While You're at It, Bring in the Moon"
- 1974 "One Born Every Minute" as Joe Connors
- 1975 "And the Horse Jumped Over the Moon"
- 1975 The Mary Tyler Moore Show (episode: "Mary's Father") as Father Terrance Brian
- 1975 The Legend of Lizzie Borden ABC 2-part docudrama. Airdate: 2/10/57 as Hosea Knowlton
- 1975 Attack on Terror: The FBI vs. the Ku Klux Klan CBS 2-part docudrama. Airdate: 2/20/75 as Justice Department attorney Ralph Paine
- 1976 Hallmark Hall of Fame (episode: "Truman at Potsdam") as President Harry S Truman
- 1979 Backstairs at the White House (episodes 1.1, 1.2 and 1.4) as President Calvin Coolidge
- 1979 Blind Ambition (TV mini-series) as Charles Shaffer
- 1979 Salem's Lot aka Blood Thirst as Dr Bill Norton
- 1982–1988 St. Elsewhere in 120 episodes as Dr. Donald Westphall
- 1993 Jack's Place (episode: "Who Knew?") as Marcus Toback
- 1994 The Road Home (pilot episode) as William Babineaux
- 1970 The Grasshopper or Passions or The Passing of Evil as Jack Benton
- 1972 The Trial of the Catonsville Nine as Father Daniel Berrigan
- 1972 The Snoop Sisters or The Female Instinct (TV movie) as Milo Perkins
- 1973 Hunter (TV) as Dr Miles
- 1974 Indict and Covinct (TV) as Timothy Fitzgerald
- 1974 Things in Their Season (TV) as Carl Gerlach
- 1975 The Legend of Lizzie Borden (TV) as Hosea Knowlton
- 1975 Attack on Terror: The FBI vs. the Ku Klux Klan (TV) as Ralph Paine
- 1975 A Moon for the Misbegotten (TV) as Phil Hogan
- 1976 Eleanor and Franklin (TV) as Louis Howe
- 1976 The Sad and Lonely Sundays (TV) as Dr Frankman
- 1976 Harry S. Truman: Plain Speaking (TV) as President Harry S. Truman
- 1977 The Amazing Howard Hughes (TV) as Noah Dietrich
- 1977 MacArthur as President Harry S. Truman
- 1977 Mary White (TV) as William Allen White
- 1979 Salem's Lot as Dr. Bill Norton
- 1980 The Ninth Configuration or Twinkle, Twinkle, Killer Kane as Col. Richard Fell
- 1981 Inchon voice (uncredited) as President Harry S. Truman
- 1981 True Confessions as Dan T. Campion
- 1981 The Pursuit of D.B. Cooper or Pursuit as Brigadier
- 1981 Skokie or Once They Marched Through a Thousand Towns (UK title) (TV) as Mayor Albert J. Smith
- 1982 Tomorrow's Child (TV) as Anders Stenslund
- 1983 Special Bulletin (TV) as John Woodley
- 1989 The Final Days (TV) as Leonard Garment
- 1990 The Exorcist III as Father Dyer
- 1991 The Perfect Tribute (TV) as Warren
- 1992 Citizen Cohn (TV) as Joseph N. Welch
- 1993 Message from Nam as Ed Wilson
- 1995 Bye Bye Love as Walter Sims
Awards and nominations
- 1979 – Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or a Special, for: "Backstairs at the White House"
- 1985 – Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, for: "St. Elsewhere"
- 1986 – Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, for: "St. Elsewhere"
- 1987 – Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, for: "St. Elsewhere"
Emmy Awards (won)
- 1976 – Outstanding Single Performance by a Supporting Actor in Comedy or Drama Special, for: A Moon for the Misbegotten
- 1977 – Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama or Comedy Special, for: Harry S. Truman: Plain Speaking
- 1983 – Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, for: "St. Elsewhere"
- Ed Flanders at AllRovi
- Ed Flanders at the Internet Broadway Database (from where list of film and TV appearances are accessible)
- Ed Flanders at the Internet Movie Database