Timothy Brown, who transitioned from his career as a star running back for the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1960s to both the film and TV versions of “M*A*S*H,” has died at 82 from complications with dementia, the NFL team announced earlier this week.
Brown, who began acting while he was still active on the field, was one of four people to star in both the movie and the TV versions of “M*A*S*H.” He played an enlisted soldier in the 1970 film. Two years later, he returned to the franchise as surgeon Oliver Harmon “Spearchucker” Jones, a neurosurgeon recruited by Dr. Benjamin “Hawkeye” Pierce (Alan Alda) to play on the unit’s football team.
His character shared the infamous tent known as “The Swamp” with Hawkeye and the other surgeons in Season 1. However, he was dropped from the cast after six episodes.
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Timothy Brown parlayed his NFL stardom into a role as football-playing neurosurgeon Oliver Harmon “Spearchucker” Jones in the TV adaptation of “MASH.” (Photo: CBS Photo Archive via Getty Images)
Brown’s other roles include TV’s “The Wild Wild West,” “Mission Impossible” and “Adam-12.” He acted and sang in director Robert Altman’s 1975 acclaimed film “Nashville.” He also had action roles in several 1970s “Blaxploitation” movies like “Dynamite Brothers” (1974), “Black Gunn” (1972) “and “Black Heat” (1976). According to IMDB, his last screen project was 2000’s “Frequency,” in which he shared the screen with Dennis Quaid.
He then reinvented himself yet again, this time as a parole officer in Los Angeles, working at Camp Kilpatrick, a juvenile detention center. That experience inspired the 2006 movie “Gridiron Gang,” his son Sean told the Philadelphia Eagles.
Brown knew better than most the crucial influence positive role models can have on kids. Born one of six children in Indiana, he spent time in an orphanage and in foster care before enrolling at Ball State University, where he played college football.
“He had a very tough childhood, so he made sure that I had a very happy, very good one,” Sean explained.
Brown was drafted by the Green Bay Packers. After being cut after a single game, he found a home with the Eagles in time to help beat the Packers for the 1960 NFL conference title. The team said he was the first NFL player to return two kickoffs for touchdowns in the same game, helping seal his place in the Eagles’ Hall of Fame.
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