LOS ANGELES — René Auberjonois, a prolific actor best known for his roles on the television shows “Benson” and “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” and his part in the 1970 film “M.A.S.H.” playing Father Mulcahy, has died. He was 79.
The actor died Sunday at his home in Los Angeles of metastatic lung cancer, his son Rèmy-Luc Auberjonois told The Associated Press.
René Auberjonois worked constantly as a character actor in several golden ages, from the dynamic theater of the 1960s to the cinema renaissance of the 1970s to the prime period of network television in the 1980s and ‘90s — and each generation knew him for something different.
For film fans of the 1970s, he was Father John Mulcahy, the military chaplain who played straight man to the doctors’ antics in “M.A.S.H.” It was his first significant film role and the first of several for director Robert Altman.
For sitcom watchers of the 1980s, he was Clayton Runnymede Endicott III, the hopelessly highbrow chief of staff at a governor’s mansion on “Benson,” the ABC series whose title character was a butler played by Robert Guillaume.
And for sci-fi fans of the 1990s and convention-goers ever since, he was Odo, the shape-shifting Changeling and head of space-station security on “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.”
“I am all of those characters, and I love that,” Auberjonois said in a 2011 interview with the “Star Trek” website. “I also run into people, and they think I’m their cousin or their dry cleaner. I love that, too.”
Much of his later career was spent doing voices for animation, most memorably as the French chef who sings the love song to fish-killing “Les Poissons” in Disney’s 1989 “The Little Mermaid.”