Edward Paul "Ed" Flanders (December 29, 1934 – February 22, 1995) was an American actor. He is best known for playing Dr. Donald Westphall in the medical drama series St. Elsewhere (1982–1988). Flanders was nominated for eight Primetime Emmys and won three times in 1976, 1977, and 1983.
Flanders in The Ninth Configuration (1980)
Edward Paul Flanders
December 29, 1934
Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.
|Died||February 22, 1995 (aged 60)|
Denny, California, U.S.
|Cause of death||Suicide|
(m. 1954; div. 1959)
(m. 1963; div. 1968)
(m. 1985; div. 1992)
|Children||3 sons and 1 daughter|
Flanders was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the son of Bernice (née Brown) and Francis Michael Grey Flanders. His mother was killed in an automobile accident when he was 14. After graduating from Patrick Henry High School (where he played hockey) in 1952, he enlisted in the United States Army, where he served as an X-ray technician.
After his service with the United States Army ended, 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 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 that earned 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 in 1988, including the 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. John 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 at the end of World War II and during the Korean War in Truman at Potsdam, Harry S Truman: Plain Speaking, and MacArthur. In the last, Flanders had second billing to Gregory Peck's lead as General Douglas MacArthur.
Along with Jason Robards, Robin Williams and Anthony Hopkins, Flanders is on a short list of actors who have portrayed two U.S. presidents having also portrayed Calvin Coolidge in the television miniseries Backstairs at the White House.
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. In 1990, Flanders played Father Dyer alongside star George C. Scott in Blatty's The Exorcist III based on the novel Legion.
One of Flanders's best-remembered TV guest roles was in the first season M*A*S*H episode "Yankee Doodle Doctor", playing film director Lt. Duane William Bricker, who is making a documentary about M*A*S*H units and visits to the 4077th. After Hawkeye and Trapper sabotage his effort, Bricker abandons the project and leaves.
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 due to a blow to the head while riding her horse. He also appeared in the 1979 made-for-TV-horror-miniseries 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 deathEdit
After three divorces, a chronic back injury from a 1989 automobile accident, and a lifelong battle with depression, Flanders died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound on February 22, 1995, in Denny, California at the age of 60. No suicide note was found, and his remains were cremated.
- 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: "The Hostage") 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 a.k.a. 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 a.k.a. 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. a.k.a. 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 (6 episodes):
- 1969 "Up Tight" as David Stone;
- 1970 "Three Dead Cows at Makapuu" (2-part episode) as Dr Alexander Kline
- 1970 "The Guarnerius Caper" as Dmitri Rostov
- 1972 "While You're at It, Bring in the Moon" as Byers
- 1974 "One Born Every Minute" as Joe Connors
- 1975 "And the Horse Jumped Over the Moon" as Bernie Ross
- 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: 2/10/1957 as Hosea Knowlton
- 1975: Attack on Terror: The FBI vs. the Ku Klux Klan CBS 2-part docudrama. Airdate: 2/20/1975 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 a.k.a. 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 Movie) as Dr Miles
- 1974: Indict and Convict (TV Movie) as Timothy Fitzgerald
- 1974: Things in Their Season (TV Movie) as Carl Gerlach
- 1975: The Legend of Lizzie Borden (TV Movie) as Hosea Knowlton
- 1975: Attack on Terror: The FBI vs. the Ku Klux Klan (TV Movie) as Ralph Paine
- 1975: A Moon for the Misbegotten (TV Movie) as Phil Hogan
- 1976: Eleanor and Franklin (TV Movie) as Louis Howe
- 1976: The Sad and Lonely Sundays (TV Movie) as Dr Frankman
- 1976: Harry S. Truman: Plain Speaking (TV Movie) as President Harry S. Truman
- 1977: The Amazing Howard Hughes (TV Movie) as Noah Dietrich
- 1977: MacArthur as President Harry S. Truman
- 1977: Mary White (TV Movie) 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 as President Harry S. Truman (voice, uncredited)
- 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 Movie) as Mayor Albert J. Smith
- 1982: Tomorrow's Child (TV Movie) as Anders Stenslund
- 1983: Special Bulletin (TV Movie) as John Woodley
- 1989: The Final Days (TV Movie) as Leonard Garment
- 1990: The Exorcist III as Father Dyer
- 1991: The Perfect Tribute (TV Movie) as Warren
- 1992: Citizen Cohn (TV Movie) as Joseph N. Welch
- 1993: Message from Nam as Ed Wilson
- 1995: Bye Bye Love as Walter Sims (final film role)
Awards and honorsEdit
- 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)Edit
- 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"
Flanders won the 1974 Tony Award for Best Supporting or Featured Actor in a Dramatic Presentation for his performance in A Moon for the Misbegotten by Eugene O'Neill, for which he also received the 1974 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Performance.
- Resting Places
- "Ed Flanders Biography (1934–1995)". Film Reference Library. Retrieved February 8, 2018.
- Brooks, Tim; Marsh, Earle (2009). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946–Present. Random House. p. 1646. ISBN 978-0307483201.
- "Ed Flanders, 60, Actor Known For His Work in 'St. Elsewhere'". The New York Times. March 2, 1995. Retrieved February 8, 2018.
- Gliatto, Tom (March 20, 1995). "From Elsewhere to Nowhere". People. Retrieved February 8, 2018.
- "Ed Flanders: Awards". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved February 8, 2018.
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