The Show, Cast, And Trivia!
This series is about the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (M*A*S*H), stationed in Uijeongbu, South Korea during the Korean War. It is loosely based on the real and historic 8055th MASH unit, as well as the actual experiences told by real MASH surgeons to the production company who interviewed them.
The show’s main character is Captain Benjamin Franklin Pierce (Alan Alda). Known to almost everyone as simply “Hawkeye”. This nickname was bestowed on him by his father, from the novel “The Last of the Mohican’s”, and according to Hawkeye is the only book his father ever read. His father is Dr. Daniel Pierce and has a practice in their hometown of Crabapple Cove, Maine. Hawkeye talks frequently and at length about the place he grew up throughout the show, and always with a dreamy sort of smile to his face. It is established in the very beginning of the show that Hawkeye is Chief Surgeon.The reason for this being that he is
without a doubt the best of all the doctors there, including anyone who is ranked above him or has more experience. In his off time, drinking to excess and spending time with women are his two favorite things to do. Followed closely by pulling pranks on both the people he likes as well as the people he dislikes. Despite caring greatly about the soldiers that he is there to take care of, his disdain for the army is clear. He doesn’t like any of the things that get in the way of his doing his job, and all of the army red tape, rules and regulations are certainly included. He has no respect for the army, or Regular Army Types and generally refers to them as “Regular Army clowns”, with only a very few exceptions. The irony of feeling this way is that sometimes it becomes necessary for him to take temporary command on those rare occasions when the colonel is either away, ill or disabled. All in all he is a wonderful doctor, humanitarian and true friend.
Next, is Captain John Francis Xavier McIntyre (Wayne Rogers), fellow surgeon, and Hawkeye’s best friend. He is known to everyone by the nickname of “Trapper”, given to him because he had sex with a woman in a bathroom aboard a train. And when they were caught in the middle of the act, she said, “He trapped me”! Trapper is similar to Hawkeye in many ways. He also likes to play pranks, drink heavily and chase after women, (despite being married with two daughters). He is an excellent surgeon as well, and is the perfect match to Hawkeye’s particular brand of humor and insanity.
Captain B.J. Hunnicutt (Mike Farrell) becomes the replacement for Trapper, when Trapper is sent home at the end of season 3. (It was actually the choice of Wayne Rogers to leave the show). B.J. arrives in Korea at the beginning of season 4, fresh out of residency and waiting at the Kimpo Air Base in Seoul. After meeting Hawkeye for the first time when he and Radar (Gary Burghoff) pick him up, it isn’t long before he and Hawk are drunk as skunks. When he finally reports into the acting commander, Major Frank Burns (Larry Linville), his first words are “What say you, Ferret Face?”, and collapses. Hawkeye then starts laughing hysterically and collapses himself. All this of course leads you to believe that B.J. will be just like Trapper, and in some ways he is. He ends up drinking a lot, plays pranks with Hawkeye and is a very good surgeon, but in other ways he is the exact opposite. He is married as well, to a woman named Peg, who writes him a great many letters, but unlike Trapper, he doesn’t chase after other women and tries to have stronger moral values, both in marital vows and surgery. He does this quite well with only a few lapses. He is also more of a voice of reason when Hawkeye tends to go out on a limb, helping in a calm manner compared to the antics of Trapper who always assisted Hawkeye. Due to certain events that happen along the way, B.J. does change somewhat, and is not quite as calm or happy-go-lucky all the time, but basically is the same nice guy with a wife and baby at home that he can’t wait to get back to when the war is over.
Then there is Lieutenant Colonel Henry Braymore Blake (McLean Stevenson), a reservist who was called to active duty. Henry is from Bloomington, Illinois, where he has his own practice, a wife, Lorraine, (played by Kathleen Hughes in a home movie), a son, Andrew and two daughters, Molly and Janie. He went to the University of Illinois; this of course is very evident by the sweaters he sports as well as his coffee mug. While a good surgeon, Henry is much more laid back as a commanding officer, which most of the men and women under his charge find refreshing. There are two of course who do not, Major Frank Burns and Major Margaret Houlihan (Loretta Swit). In his off time from surgery or having to make decisions, Col. Blake can usually be found hanging out at Rosie’s Bar, (the bar run just outside of the camp), drinking with the rest of the guys, or in the arms of a woman.
Colonel Sherman Thomas Potter, (Harry Morgan), comes in at the beginning of season 4, after Henry Blake is discharged. (Once again, as with Wayner Rogers, it was McLean Stevenson’s decision to leave the show). Colonel Potter is more your typical, “Regular Army” type. At first, no one is quite sure how to take him, especially “Radar”, but in the end, everyone, with the exception of Frank Burns, comes to love and respect him. Although he can be stern and knows when to put his foot down, he also realizes the benefit of morale boosting, in whatever form it may be. He drinks with Hawkeye and B.J. and even shows them a more effective way of making their moonshine. In one of Potter’s early episodes on the show, it’s his wedding anniversary, and Burns and Houlihan try to give him the perfect present, a wooden bust of himself. But Radar tops them by giving the colonel a horse he had recently acquired. Being an old horse cavalry man, Potter is bowled over, and is almost brought to tears by the gift. This gives you a chance to see the soft side of him, and why. Although different he is the perfect replacement for Col. Blake.
Major Franklin Delano Marion Burns, (Larry Linville), is known to all as Frank, an inadequate surgeon and a miserable human being. Frank is married to a woman named Louise, but ends up having an ongoing sexual affair with Margaret Houlihan. A woman who is out of his league by most standards, with one exception, they both have a high regard for military discipline. The guys in the “swamp”, (the name given to the tent in which Hawkeye and the rest of the surgeons reside), use this as a constant source of amusement. With the exception of Margaret, no one really talks to Frank unless they have to, or are playing some sort of prank on him. He has no friends, and no respect. In some of the episodes where they talk about his life before coming to Korea, it’s mentioned that it took him twice as long to finish medical school, and that he flunked out of two before finishing. And he only did that because he bought the answers to the final exam in the first year. Later, when Margaret gets married, he has a nervous breakdown and is never seen again. (Linville, though offered an extension for two more years after his contract expired, declined). He is then replaced by Major Charles Emerson Winchester (David Ogden Stiers).
Major Margaret Houlihan (Loretta Swit) is known to everyone as “Hot Lips”. This nickname was actually due to a scene in the M*A*S*H movie, which is what the series is based on (as well as the novel). In the movie, Houlihan, (played by Sally Kellerman), is having sex with Frank and is unaware that someone has put the public address microphone underneath their cot and is broadcasting it all over the camp. So everyone in the camp hears her when she says, “Frank, kiss my hot lips”, thereby giving her a permanent nickname. Her character was based on a real-life Korean War MASH head nurse by the name of Janie Hall, who contributed many stories to the character with her actual and true accounts of the war. Margaret grew up an “army brat”, and her father, Col. Alvin ‘Howitzer’ Houlihan, (Andrew Duggan), was her role model growing up. She believes in military discipline and is a totally by-the-book head nurse. This, of course, is how she ends up having an affair with the likes of Frank Burns. Later, she starts to change and eventually becomes more relaxed. She starts to temper her authority with humanity and kindness, which also allows her to bond more closely with her nurses. And they in turn, not only appreciate the change in her, but are especially grateful when her loyalty helps in protecting them from officers, surgeons and others who feel that nurses are not to be treated equally.
After Frank Burns exits the show, he is replaced by another officer who thinks that he is also above everyone else. The difference being that in some ways he can be. Major Charles Emerson Winchester III, (David Ogden Stiers), unlike Frank Burns, is an amazing surgeon. The only thing that gets in his way at times is his lack of humility. When he first arrives at the 4077th, he is appalled to say the least at the conditions, seeing as it is a far cry from Tokyo General where he was previously stationed. Despite his disdain for the camp, he has been assured that it’s only for 48 hours, so he decides to just make the best of it. What he doesn’t realize, is that the reason that he was sent there was due to the fact that his commanding officer, Colonel Horace Baldwin (Robert Symonds), has sent him there purely out of spite. Baldwin owes Winchester $672.17 in cribbage debts, and though he is annoyed by his losses, the fact that Charles is also being incredibly snide about winning is bothering him even more so. In the end of course, he is stationed at the 4077th permanently, much to his disgust. It takes him awhile, but he does adjust to the specifics of “meatball surgery”. And he also shows that he has a human side, to his patients and also to many others along the way. He tries not to do so in front of his bunkmates, but he grows while at his time there. He even manages to have a few drinks now and then with Hawkeye and B.J. as well as participate in some of their pranks. And though they aren’t best friends, they do all have a certain amount of respect for one another. As for his family, you realize when he writes letters that he is particularly close to his sister, Honoria, who still lives with him and his parents on Beacon Hill in Boston. And his saving grace is his love for music, classical especially, which saves him on many occasions when he feels he would have lost his mind.
Corporal Walter Eugene O’Reilly (Gary Burghoff) is known to everyone as simply “Radar”. This nickname was given to him because he seems to be able to not only read people’s minds, but also the uncanny ability to anticipate future events. He also tends to appear suddenly at his commanding officer’s side before being asked, and can hear a helicopter before anyone else even knows that they are coming. The character was based on an actual company clerk who served in Korea, named Don Shaffer. Shaffer really did have the nickname of “Radar” given to him by other soldiers and actually was born in Ottumwa, Iowa, just as the character of Radar is. Burghoff is the only actor from the film who then reprises his role for the TV series. Also, since the other characters roles seemed to change somewhat in the first season from the way they had been in the film, Radar went from being sly and sophisticated at the beginning, to more of a naive farm boy. He rarely drinks, and doesn’t chase women around like his cohorts. He often talks fondly of his mother, and also his Uncle Ed and can always be counted upon to do what is necessary to get the job done, (even when it sometimes seems impossible).
1st Lieutenant Francis John Patrick Mulcahy (William Christopher), is the chaplain, and therefore is called “Father Mulcahy” by everyone in camp. Though he is a man of the cloth, he does a little boxing on the side; this due to an old mentor and priest of his in Jesuit school who said that boxing builds character. He is respected by all, even if they are not religious and is quick with a smile and of course to help out anyone in need. He also pondered often if his role as chaplain was even remotely important, when compared to the doctors’ ability to save lives. Due to these thoughts, when an opportunity arose where he felt he could be of additional assistance, he was quick to volunteer. He often speaks of his sister who is a Catholic nun with great joy, even reminiscing here and there with a story about her when they were children. And he manages to show that despite being a religious man, he can also display emotions that aren’t always what one would imagine.
Corporal Maxwell Q. Klinger (Jamie Farr), is a Lebanese-American from Toledo, Ohio (like Farr himself), and is known by the moniker of “Klinger” most often, but also as Max or Corporal on occasion. Now, even though Klinger is completely sane, he tries on a daily basis to get out of the army on a Section 8 psychiatric discharge. This is mostly done by wearing women’s clothing, but on occasion he tries some “crazy” stunts. But no matter how badly he wants out of the army, he never puts anything above his duties, no matter how mundane they may seem. He is a great supporter of his hometown’s minor league baseball team, The Toledo Mud Hens, as well as Tony Paco’s and in fact of Toledo itself. Later in the series after Radar is sent home on a hardship discharge, (Gary Burghoff was burned out and chose to leave), Klinger is given his job and begins to dress more like a company clerk. He loves his family but seems to hold his mother in especially high esteem, and always worried about how she will react to things, lies to her about being stationed in Korea. Instead tells her that he was sent to Fort Dix, New Jersey, where he actually did his training. Because of this, he was able to have a large amount of photos taken while he was there and sends her one with every letter he writes home. Later in the series he finds out that she knew all along but didn’t want to worry him.
There were quite a number of other characters that made recurring appearances throughout the shows’ 11 seasons, and became well known. Sidney Freedman (Allan Arbus), the psychiatrist, Igor (Jeff Maxwell), who usually served food, Nurse Kellye (Kellye Nakahara), Rizzo (G.W. Bailey), who worked in the motor pool, and Col. Flagg (Edward Wintaer) to name a few.
This series is fantastic. It was always enjoyable to watch, and despite losing several of the main characters during the shows’ run; it somehow managed to keep going and just got better. I give this show 10 out of 10.
Hawkeye Pierce-Alan Alda
Trapper McIntyre-Wayne Rogers
B.J. Hunnicutt-Mike Farrell
Col. Henry Blake-McLean Stevenson
Col, Sherman Potter-Harry Morgan
Frank Burns-Larry Linville
Margaret Houlihan-Loretta Swit
Charles Winchester-David Ogden Stiers
Radar O’Reilly-Gary Burghoff
Father Mulcahy-William Christopher (played by George Morgan in the pilot)
Max Klinger-Jamie Farr
Nurse Kellye-Kellye Nakahara 1973-1983Igor-Jeff Maxwell 1973-1983 (also played by Peter Riegert 1977)
Roy Goldman-Roy Goldman 1973-1983
Nurse Ginger Bayliss-Odessa Cleveland1972-1977
Zelmo Zale-Johnny Haymer 1974-1979
Corpsman-Dennis Troy 1973-1983
Lt. Janet Baker-Bobbie Mitchell 1973-1976
Nurse Baker-Patricia Stevens 1974-1978 (also played by Jan Jorden 1978-1983)
Nurse Shari-Shari Saba 1980-1983
Sgt. Rizzo-G.W. Bailey 1979-1983
Nurse JoAnn-JoAnn Thompson 1978-1983
Nurse Bigelow-Enid Kent 1976-1983
Nurse Wilson-Gwen Farrell 1973-1983
Sidney Freedman-Allan Arbus 1973-1983
Ugly John-John Orchard 1972-1979
2nd Korean Kim Luc-Richard Lee Sung 1974-1982
Corpsman-Bill Snider 1981-1983
Rosie-Eileen Saki 1976-1981 (also played by Francis Fong 1976-1977)
Nurse-Jennifer Davis Westmore 1976-1983
Leslie Scorch-Linda Meiklejohn 1972-1973
Nurse Able-Judy Farrell 1976-1983 (also played Lois Foraker 1975-1978)
Nurse Sheila-Sheila Lauritsen 1973-1974
Col. Flagg-Edward Winter 1973-1979
Ho-Jon-Patrick Adiarte 1972-1973
General Clayton-Herb Voland 1972-1973
“Whiplash” Hwang-Jerry Fujikawa 1973-1982
Korean Soldier-Byron Chung- 1972-1982
Courier-James Carroll 1976-1982
Spearchucker Jones-Timothy Brown 1972
Nurse Cutler-Marcia Strassman 1972-1973
Soon-Lee-Rosalind Cho 1983
Lt. Griffin-Lynette Mettey 1973-1976
Dr. Syn Paik-Soon-Tek Oh 1975-1982
Nurse Baker-Lynne Marie Stewart 1975-1977
Driver-Perren Page 1978-1982
Corporal Boone-Tom Dever 1973-1978
Lt. Bannerman-Bonnie Jones 1972-1975
Mother-Shizuko Hoshi 1974-1979
Kwang Duk-Clyde Kusatsu 1973-1982
Dr. Lin Tam-Mako 1974-1980
Nurse-Phyllis Katz 1976-1979
Chinese Patient-Leland Sun 1974-1982
Korean Woman-June Kyoto Lu 1976-1983
South Korean-James Saito 1977-1981
Captain Sloan-Eldon Quick 1973-1978
Corpsman-Carmine Scelza 1976-1978
Korean Translator-Johnny Yune 1976-1977
Simmons-George F. Simmons 1974-1977
Mama San-Noel Toy 1972-1977
Gen. Mitchell-Robert F. Simon 1973
Dan-Buck Young 1972-1975
Brig. Gen. Hammond-G. Wood 1972
Admiral Cox-Dick O’Neill 1977-1982
Jack Scully-Joshua Bryant 1979
Sgt. Pernelli-Val Bisoglio 1981-1982
Cpt. Spalding-Loudon Wainwright III 1974-1975
Korean Granfather-Philip Ahn 1976-1977
Cho Pak-Yuki Shimoda 1979-1981
Nurse Bryan-Lesley Evans 1973
Colonel Kim-John Fujikora 1975-1982
Delivery Man-David Dozer 1978-1981
Corpral Bryant-Sal Viscuso 1976-1978
Private Boone-Robert Gooden 1972
Cho Kim-Keye Luke 1978-1980
Kim’s Mother-Momo Yashima 1973-1979
Nurse-Laurie Bates 1978-1981
Nurse-Brigitte Chandler 1983
Korean Daughter-Virginia Ann Lee 1972-1976
Nurse Walsh-Mary Jo Catlett 1976-1978
Anesthetist-Jeanne Schulherr 1974-1975
Korean Woman-Kimiko Hiroshige 1975-1977
Nurse Connie-Connie Izay 1979-1980
Corpsman Frank-Frank Slaten 1982-1983
Soldier-Marty Thomas 1982
Charlie Lee-Jack Soo 1972-1975
Capt. Sherman-Stuart Margolin 1972-1974
General Barker-Sorrell Booke 1972
Capt. Pak-Pat Morita 1973-1974
Dr. Borelli-Robert Alda 1975-1980
Capt. Traegar-Tim O’Connor 1975-1981
The song at the beginning of the show is an instrumental of “Suicide is Painless”, which is the theme song from the movie.
As of November 2011, the MASH series finale is still is still the most watched broadcast in U.S. television history. The day that the show was aired, the New York City public works made note of the fact that the highest water usage in the city’s history was on that day. The reason for this was because in the 3 minutes after the finale ended, approximately 77% of New York City flushed their toilets.
The series lasted for eleven years, but the Korean War only lasted for three.
Judy Farrell (then Mike Farrell’s wife), played Nurse Able for 8 episodes, including the finale.
Mike Farrell was the one who asked that his character’s daughter’s name be Erin, after his own daughter.
Radar’s teddy bear, which was once housed at the Smithsonian, was sold at auction for $11,800.
Harry Morgan had one guest appearance on the show as a nutty General, before he later returned as Colonel Sherman Potter.
Alan Alda and Jamie Farr were the only cast members to actually serve in Korea. Both did their tours after the 1953 cease fire.
McLean Stevenson died of a heart attack on Feb. 15, 1996, and the next day (Feb. 16, 1996), Roger Bowen, who played Col. Blake in the movie, died of the same causes.
Gary Burghoff’s left hand is deformed and he went to great lengths to hide that during filming. Usually by holding something in his hand.
Klingers’ favorite baseball team, The Toledo Mud Hens, actually exists. It is the AAA minor league affiliate of the Detroit Tigers.
Klinger was only supposed to be in one episode, but he was so popular that they wrote him into the cast.
On Sesame Street, Big Bird’s teddy bear is named Radar. And yet, the name of his teddy bear on MASH is never known.
Alan Alda is the only actor who appeared in every episode.
The restaurant that Klinger mentions, Tony Paco’s, in his hometown of Toledo, is actually a real restaurant in Toldedo, and is still popular with many people today,
Dr. Michael DeBakey, the physician who is given credit for being the most responsible for creating MASH units for the U.S. Army, died on July 2008. In only 2 months, he would have been 100 years old.
Harry Morgan stated in an interview that he wanted to play Colonel Potter forever.
The decision to end MASH was made by a vote of the cast’s members. The ones who voted for it to stay on were featured in the spin-off show, After Mash.
Alan Alda (who was born Alphonso Joseph D’Abruzzo), was 7 years old when he contracted poliomyelitis (polio). To help battle the disease, his parents used a very painful treatment that was invented by Sister Elizabeth Kenny, and that was the application of hot woolen blankets to his arms and legs, along with the stretching of his muscles.
Harry Morgan was married to his first wife, Eileen Detchon for 45 years, and to his second wife, Barbara Bushman Quine, for 25 years and until the day he died. He died peacefully in his sleep at age 96.
During his time on M*A*S*H, whenever they showed Colonel Potter’s (Harry Morgan), desk, a photograph of his first wife, Detchon was usually on it. Also, the drawing of a horse on the wall behind Potter’s desk, was actually a picture drawn by Harry Morgan’s grandson, Jeremy.
Wayne Rogers is a 1954 Princeton University graduate, with a degree in history.
McLean Stevenson was the great-grandson of William Stevenson, who was the brother of Adlai E. Stevenson, U.S. Vice President.
Loretta Swit became neighbors with fellow cast member and close friend, Harry Morgan, after the series ended.
Mike Farrell went to West Hollywood Grammar School with actress, Natalie Wood.
David Ogden Stiers is the associate conductor for the Newport Symphony Orchestra. He’s conducted more than 70 orchestras in a myriad of places.
Larry Linville was married five times before his death in April of 2000, after complications from cancer surgery.
William Christopher who has an autistic son, Ned, devotes alot of his time to the National Autistic Society. In additon, he and his wife, Barbara, wrote a book together about the experience of raising an autistic child, the book is called, “Mixed Blessings”.
William Christopher is a descendant of the famous, Paul Revere.
Jamie Farr has been married to his wife, Joy Ann Richards, for 50 years. They also have two children, Jonas and Yvonne.
Gary Burghoff holds a patent on the “Chum Magic”, (a fishing tackle invention). He has also invented a fishing pole and a toilet seat lifting handle, as well.