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Farrell raises awareness instead of hackles

Maybe because he admires the Americans he met on an 8,800-mile cross-country road trip for being able to disagree respectfully.

Or that he speaks lovingly of his wife, and the word "grateful" plays and active part in his conversation. Perhaps it's that his opinions are sourced in compassion, and his tone measured.

But where others might raise hackles opining strongly on hot-button topics, Mike Farrell, 71, raises awareness.

Tall with snowy hair and best known for his role as Capt. B.J. Hunnicutt in the popular TV series M*A*S*H, the affable Mr. Farrell delivered a 15-minute talk and answered questions from a dozen of the 250 people who attended last night's Authors! Authors! program in the Stranahan Theater. The writers' series is sponsored by The Blade and the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library.

Queries were evenly divided between his work as an actor/producer and the death penalty, the issue at the top of his list.

The United States is among 30 countries that continue killing criminals, as are Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, and China. China and the United States kill the most, he said.

"It puts us in bad company." It should come as no surprise, he added, that U.S. soldiers have tortured and killed prisoners.

"I think that's a sign of the degradation of the soul of this country. And I think we deserve better," he said to applause.

Mr. Farrell, author of Just Call Me Mike: A Journey to Actor and Activist, spoke of his thrill at joining the cast of M*A*S*H in 1975. He's also made several films, each infused with a message. Memorial Day looked at a Vietnam veteran's post traumatic stress disorder. Sins of the Mind focused on a young woman who lost her ability to control impulses after suffering a brain injury. His favorite is Dominick and Eugene, about the strained relationship of twin brothers: one's a genius, the other is brain damaged. "It was a picture I adore to this day."

Next up in the Authors! Authors! series will be novelist Carl Weber on April 21 and on May 12, Lisa Scottoline, novelist and columnist. Talks are at 7 p.m. in the Stranahan Theater.

Contact Tahree Lane at:

tlane@theblade.com

or 419-724-6075.

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