Click on image to view larger image
Poster: Mr. Television
(see this users gallery)
M*A*S*H* aired from September 1972 until September 1983 on CBS.
In 1972 America was still embroiled in a lingering war in Vietnam, a war that had polarized the population. The climate created by an unpopular war was the perfect evvironment for an anti-war comedy like M*A*S*H*. The setting was different, Korea in the early 1950's but the stories and situations could just as easily have been from Vietnam in the 1970's.
M*A*S*H* premiered in a Sunday time-slot and barely escaped cancelation after its first season. In the fall of 1973 it was moved to Saturday night, where it inherited one of the best timeslots in television history, the 8:30 " hammock" between 2 established CBS sitcoms, All In The Family and The Mary Tyler Moore Show. There it zoomed to fourth in the 1973-1974 seasonal ratings and remained a top 10 show for all but one of the next nine seasons.
The cast of characters in M*A*S*H* were all members of the 4077th Army Surgical Hospital stationed behind the lines during The Korean War. Their job was to treat the wounded being sent to them from the front lines and to try and save as many lives as possible. The environment was depressing; many of the doctors ( who had all been drafted) could not really believe they were living under the conditions to which they were being subjected. There was an overwhelming sense of the futility and insanity of war that permeated their daily lives. A certain sense of humor was necessary for survival.
Most of the senior members of the M*A*S*H* unit had wives and families back home, but that never stopped them from propositioning every good looking nurse they could con into their quarters, after all , they did need something to alleviate the depression that resulted from contact with a constant stream of mained and dying young GI's. Two of the surgeons were Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce ( Alan Alda) and "Trapper" John McIntyre ( Wayne Rogers). Like virtually everyone else they were always breaking regulations. Hawkeye, despite his escapades, was probably the most intellectual of the doctors and was sometimes seen musing on the dehumanizing nature of war and questioning its moral validity.
Among others who were featured was Frank Burns ( Larry Linville) who was possibly the worst doctor in the unit, and the constant butt of practical jokes perpetrated by Hawkeye and Trapper because of his arrogance and his feigned adherence to military regulations. Margaret " Hot Lips" Houlihan ( Loretta Switt), was the head nurse who despite her admonitions to both her nurses and the doctors about fooling around, had been having an affair with the married Frank Burns for an extended period. Henry Blake ( McLlean Stevenson), the Commanding Officer, whose prime concern was the work of the doctors in the operating room, couldn't care less about what they did during their free time. Walter " Radar" O'Reilly was the extremely shy and bumbling young aid to Col. Blake and Father Francis Mulcahy ( played by George Morgan in the pilot and William Christopher in the series) was the camp chaplin. Their were also numerous nurses who came and went, with the same actress being referred to in different episodes by different names-a large number of actresses were collectively called Nurse Able and Nurse Baker.Dr. Sidney Freedman ( Alan Arbus), an army psychiatrist made sporadic visits to the 4077th M*A*S*H* to check on the mental condition of the staff.
There were changes in the cast over the years. The first significant addition was that of Sgt. Maxwell Klinger ( Jamie Farr), an aid to the doctors in the operating room. There was nothing really wrong with him; it was just that he always dressed in women's clothing in a desperate though futile attempt to get himself discharged as mentally unfit. McLean Stevenson left the series in the spring of 1975 to sign a long-term contract with NBC, and his character, Col. Blake was written out of the show in the last episode of the 1974-1975 season ( he was discharged and on his way home, only to have the plane in which he was flying go down in the sea of Japan). He was replaced by Col. Sherman Potter (played by Harry Morgan who had previously guest starred on M*A*S*H* as a demented General), who was somewhat more sardonic and definately less silly than his predecessor. In the summer of 1975 Wayne Rogers also left the series in a contract dispute; his character, Trapper John got a discharge and returned home at the beginning of the 1975-1976 season( The character would appear again in modern times on another series, this one a medical drama, called Trapper John M.D. which starred Pernell Roberts and which ran on CBS from 1979-1986).B.J. Hunnicut (Mike Farrell)replaced Trapper as Hawkeye's tentmate and co-conspirator.
At the beginning of the 1977-1978 season Larry Linville left, and so Major Burns was written out of the series. Having seen his love affair with Hot Lips end when she married Lt. Col. Donald Penobscott( played by Beeson Carroll), Frank abruptly went AWOL and was permanently transferred. Replacing him was an aristocraticic Bostonian, Maj. Charles Emerson Winchester ( David Ogden Stiers). Hot Lips' marriage to Col. Penobscott, who was not stationed with the 4077th and who was virtually never seen with his wife after the honeymoon ended in divorce during the 1978-1979 season. Gary Burghoff, the only member of the cast who had played the same role in the movie version of M*A*S*H* departed in the fall of 1979. His character, clairvoyant company clerk Radar O'Reilly, recieved his discharge and returned to the states. Cpl. Klinger ( who by this time had resigned himself to staying in the army; he no longer wore dresses in an effort to have himself classified as psychologically unfit), after a rocky start settled in as the new company clerk.
M*A*S*H* had a low-keyed laugh track that was so toned down , it's said viewers were almost completely unaware of it. (In Great Britain the laugh track was eliminated).
During its 11 seasons , M*A*S*H* was able to experiment in some of its episodes. Among the most memorable of these were a documentary, filmed in black and white in which an American television reporter ( Clete Roberts) interviewed the crew; a first person story in which the camera was a wounded soldier; a real time episode in which all the action took place in just 30 minutes and in one unusual episode Hawkeye , injured in a jeep accident and suffering from a concussion , babbles ( in a twenty-minute monologue) to a non_English speaking Korean family to keep himself awake.These distinctive moves kept this classic show fresh and set it apart from anything else on the air at that time. Alan Alda also became increasingly involved with the series, writing and directing a number of episodes( he is the only person to have won emmys for acting, writing, and directing). He took over as the principal creative force after the departure of Gene Reynolds and Larry Gelbert who had produced the show during its first few seasons; Burt Metcalf produced the show during the later seasons.
Among the guest stars turning up on the show were Timothy Brown and G Wood both of whom were in the M*A*S*H* film; Ed Flanders; Leslie Nielsen; Joan Van Ark; Teri Garr; John Ritter; Ronny Howard; Pat Morita; Ned Beatty; Philip Ahn; Keye Luke; Susan St. James; Patrick Swayze; Blythe Danner; Edward Herrmann; Shelley Long; Gwen Verdon; Judy Farrell ( then Mike's wife , who also wrote a couple episodes); and Robert Alda and Anthony Alda, Alan's dad and younger brother, respectively.
Wisely the people behind M*A*S*H* decided to end the series while it was still popular.On February 28, 1983, the last original episode of M*A*S*H* aired as a two and a half hour special. Highly publicized in both print and broadcast media, with tv tributes airing at the local and network level for several days before, this special M*A*S*H* was a national event, and was seen by the largest audience ever to watch a single television program. The finale brought a dramatic ending to the series regarded by many as one of the finest in television history. In it, the war finally ended, but not before the long years of pressure pushed Hawkeye over the edge and into a chillingly portrayed nervous breakdown. He recovered but Maj. Winchester never would recover from his experience with a group of POW musicians who had brought a bit of cherished civility to the front-before they were suddenly and sensilessly killed. Klinger on the eve of his long-anticipated departure for home, met and married a beautiful Korean woman named Soon-Lee ( Rosalind Chao). As the program came to a close , the men and women of the 4077th departed one by one, for civilain life. Some of them-Col. Potter, Klinger, Father Mulcahy would meet again in a sequel the following fall called AfterMASH. In its eleven seasons and 256 episodes, M*A*S*H* succeeded in depicting the horror and futility of war.
M*A*S*H* was based on the Robert Altman hit motion picture of the same name, which in turn was taken from the novel. The novel was written by a doctor who had actually served in one of the Korean War M*A*S*H* units, but who used a pseudonym -Richard Hooker-in writing so as not to compromise his medical standing by his revelations.
A Short Article from Time Magazine before M*A*S*H became a hit: Published on October 16, 1972.
M*A*S*H. CBS. Sunday, 8-8:30 p.m. E.D.T.
This show, which began as one of the most promising series of the new season, is now one of its biggest disappointments. Based on the 1970 movie of the same name, which followed the misadventures of an Army medical unit during the Korean War, M*A*S*H started out as television's first black comedy. It is now as bleached out as Hogan's Heroes.
The creeping blandness was probably foreordained. Commercial television is simply not prepared to accept the savage satire of the movie original. Beyond that, no series could hope to recreate the film's peculiar tension be tween comedy and horror. The writers seem to have given up their initial efforts and now stand on their cliches.
"Just a minute, isn't that Frank's bag?" a nurse asks a doctor. Reply: "I thought you were Frank's bag."
An Article from Time Magazine
A M*A*S*H Note for Docs
Monday, May. 28, 1979
The man who may be everybody's favorite doctor never dissected a frog in med school, never made rounds as an intern, never even earned an M.D. degree. No matter. When Actor Alan Alda, 43, known to millions of televiewers as Army Captain Hawkeye Pierce of the Korean War-era 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (M*A*S*H), spoke at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons commencement last week, he was absolutely right in telling the class, "In some ways you and I are alike. We both study the human being. We both try to reduce suffering. We've both dedicated ourselves to years of hard work. And we both charge a lot. "Alda, named an honorary member of P and S's 210th graduating class, also offered some heartfelt advice to the new doctors as they prepared to pick their way through "the minefield of existence."
Be skilled, be learned, be aware of the dignity of your calling. But please don't ever lose sight of your own simple humanity.
Unfortunately, that may not be so easy. You're entering a special place in our society. People will be awed by your expertise. You'll be placed in a position of privilege. You'll live well, people will defer to you, call you by your title, and it may be hard to remember that the word doctor is not actually your first name.
I ask of you, possess your skills, but don't be possessed by them. You are entering a very select group. You have a monopoly on medical care. Please be careful not to abuse this power that you have over the rest of us.
Put people first. And I include in that not just people, but that which exists between people. Let me challenge you. With all your study, you can read my X rays like a telegram. But can you read my involuntary muscles? Can you see the fear and uncertainty in my face? Will you tell me when you don't know what to do? Can you face your own fear, your own uncertainty? When in doubt, can you call in help?
Will you be the kind of doctor who cares more about the case than the person? ("Nurse, call the gastric ulcer and have him come in at three.") You'll know you're in trouble if you find yourself wishing they would mail in their liver in a plain brown envelope.
Where does money come on your list? Will it be the sole standard against which you reckon your success? Where will your family come on your list? How many days and nights, weeks and months, will you separate yourself from them, buried in your work, before you realize that you've removed yourself from an important part of your life? And if you're a male doctor, how will you relate to women? Women as patients, as nurses, as fellow doctors and later as students?
Thank you for taking on the enormous responsibility that you have and for having the strength to have made it to this day. I don't know how you've managed to learn it all. But there is one more thing you can learn about the body that only a non-doctor would tell you and I hope you'll always remember this: the head bone is connected to the heart bone. Don't let them come apart.
An Article From Time Magazine
M*A*S*H, You Were a Smash
Monday, Feb. 28, 1983 By RICHARD CORLISS Article
After eleven years of daring good humor, TV's finest half-hour signs off
Letter sent from the 4077 Mobile Army Surgical Hospital based in Ouijongbu, Korea:
Well here I am in Korea. It's a long way from Ottumwa, Iowa, but then I guess it's a long way from everybody else's home town of the guys around here too. The only thing we're not far from is the front. Three miles down the road, the war is going full blast. It's our job to patch up the wounded and, the way they say it around here is, send them back to get wounded again. Actually, I don't do the patching. I'm kind of like what you might sort of call the company clerk, which is still a pretty good thing for an 18-year-old farm boy to be if he's gotta be here. They call me Radar on account of because I can sometimes figure out what somebody's gonna say before they say it but you knew that already. Just about all the guys here are great, my boss Colonel Blake and the surgeons and even the nurses, they're great guys too. But I miss you, Mom. Enclosed I've put some of my pay, so you can keep up your electrolysis. Love to Uncle Ed and all the animals and especially to you.
Your son, Walter
P.S. They say this war won't last long, Mom. I sure hope they're right.
Stage 9 of the 20th Century-Fox studios in Los Angeles is dark. The backdrop of khaki-drab Korean hills and everything that might serve as inventory, booty or memento have disappeared. Gone are the tables, tubing, clamps and surgical gowns from O.R.; neither the blandly frazzled Lieut. Colonel Henry Blake (McLean Stevenson) nor the avuncular Colonel Sherman Potter (Harry Morgan) will preside any more over that surgeons' battlefield. In the mess hall, the serving trays and cigarette packs are missing; Corporal Klinger (Jamie Farr), the drag queen of 4077, will never again ask Father Mulcahy (William Christopher) to give absolution to the food. The officers' club has been stripped of its jukebox and banners; only the lingering perfume of Major Margaret ("Hot Lips") Houlihan (Loretta Swit) will drive the ghost of Major Frank Burns (Larry Linville) into rages of ecstasy. And in the most famous barracks since Stalag 17 Hawkeye Pierce's Swamp the cots, footlockers, stove, framed pictures and even the distillery are gone. The giggles and groans of Trapper John (Wayne Rogers) and B.J. Hunnicut (Mike Farrell) and Charles Emerson Winchester III (David Ogden Stiers) are now distant, poignant echoes.
The wish that Corporal Radar O'Reilly (Gary Burghoff) made has come true. In real time, the Korean conflict was over in three years; in CBS's prime time, it lasted eleven increasingly popular years; in syndicated reruns, it has proved so successful that it could outlast the Hundred Years' War. By next Monday, when its 2 -hour send-off episode is aired (8:30 p.m. E.S.T.), M*A*S*H will have earned its stars as one of the funniest, most humane and formally adventurous shows ever to leave its mark on TV.
Some of its achievements can be measured in numbers. Since its debut Sept. 17, 1972, M*A*S*H has won 14 Emmys and 99 nominations. Its annual rating has climbed from 46th place to third this year (after 60 Minutes and Dallas). In the same time, the show increased the going rate for a 30-second commercial from $30,000 to about $200,000 for a regular episode and, for the feature-length finale, $450,000, topping the rate of last month's Super Bowl by $50,000, to become the most expensive half-minute in TV history. In syndication, M*A*S*H's earnings already exceed $200 million, and keep on growing. There is a price for success, and Fox should be happy to pay it: a reported $5 million or so a year to Alan Alda, who anchored the show as Captain Hawkeye Pierce and wrote and directed many of the most memorable episodes in a series whose writing was often of the highest, hippest quality.
No work of popular art can tap the money machine so deftly without touching a national pulse or nerve. M*A*S*H, a Viet Nam parable that hit the airwaves three months before the Christmas bombing of Hanoi, surely did so. Like the surgeons whose no-sweat heroism it celebrated, the series began by operating on the wounded American body politic with skill and daring good humor. For half an hour each week, hawk and dove could sit together in front of the TV set and agree: war is an existential hell to which some pretty fine people had been unfairly assigned; now they were doing their best to do good and get out. As the Viet Nam War staggered to a close and M*A*S*H generated the momentum any TV series needs to sustain its quality after the first few seasons, the show revealed itself as a gritty romance about the finest American instincts. Here were gruff pragmatism, technical ingenuity, grace under pressure, the saving perspective of wit. The men and women of 4077 MASH could be seen as us at our worst hour, finding the best part of ourselves.
A month after shooting their last scene, these men and women the M*A*S*H actors, writers and producers are emerging from an experience that for some of them amounted to an eleven-year blend of encounter therapy and bootcamp. "I'm totally exhausted and depressed," sighs Farr. Says Swit: "I feel as if I've never not done M*A*S*H." Ask them what the show was, what made it unique, and you get a jumble of answers and impressions. From Alda: "The audience made a pact with us. We could be as imaginative and exploratory as we wanted black-and-white newsreel style for 'The Interview,' surrealist in 'Dreams,' shooting in actual time or covering a whole year in one episode because they knew we would never be wanton with them." From Morgan, a veteran of eight TV series: "M*A*S*H was about helping people." From Stiers: "There was always laughter on the set. Maybe that reflected our sense of freedom and accomplishment." From Christopher, whose Father Mulcahy was the perpetual supporting player: "What was M*A*S*H about? It was about a chaplain in Korea."
Well, no. M*A*S*H was about doctors in Korea, and it drew from real life and death as faithfully as many documentaries. Larry Gelbart and Gene Reynolds, who developed the show for TV, talked with dozens of surgeons and nurses who had served in Korea; they even visited a Korean MASH base for more memories. Later, Burt Metcalfe, who took over as producer after Gelbart and Reynolds left, continued the tradition. "We've spoken to almost every doctor who was in Korea," Metcalfe claims. "At least 60% of the plots dealing with medical or military incidents were taken from real life." Says Reynolds: "These guys gave us details we never would have thought of. They kept us honest." Gelbart recalls one doctor's remark: "He said, 'In the winter it is so cold in the O.R. that when the surgeon cuts into a patient, steam rises from the body, and the surgeon will warm his hands over the open wound.' In the last show I wrote and directed, 'The Interview,' I had Father Mulcahy use those exact words when he was asked if the war had changed him."
A year in Korea and no end in sight. Last week we suffered a visitation by some brigadier general who tried to boost morale by telling us that we are bringing democracy to this green and peasant land. That was the most ridiculous thing I ever heard. I felt like telling His Belligerence that what this country needs is a good five-cent czar. My tentmate, Major Frank Burns, is even more amusing, if you get your laughs from psychotic paranoia complicated by a spine-wide streak of yellow. He thinks we're here to save Korea from the Koreans, and that when the war is over Seoul will be colonized by the Fort Wayne Kiwanis Club. I couldn't help breaking into a chorus of the Ethel Merman song: "There's no vinism like chauvinism like no vinism I know."
I guess Frank is just the carrier. The disease, the bubonic plague, is knowing that our O.R. is just a three-day pass that wounded kids are given before being shipped back to the front. We knit and purl and offer kind words and jokes so bad even Milton Berle wouldn't steal them. For me, joking is therapeutic. It's the only way I have of opening my mouth without screaming.
Here I am babbling, Dad, and I know you brook no babble. But what can you expect of a barefoot surgeon from Crabapple Cove, Me. ? I can't wait to come home, hug you and then log six or seven months' sleep.
Before it became a television series, M*A*S*H had been a mildly successful novel (1968) by Richard Hooker and a surprise hit movie (1970) directed by Robert Altman and written by Ring Lardner Jr. Most of the TV show's major characters were sketched in by the movie, but the tone was '50s frat house, and the emphasis was on the safety-valve sexual high jinks that the heroes perpetrated on some of their uptight colleagues. These droll humiliations would have been too raunchy for TV and too alienating for audiences in search of a weekly identification figure. Enter Alan Alda, who was starring in films and TV movies without having hit it big and who was now ready for the right series. "In talking with Larry Gelbart and Gene Reynolds," Alda recalls, "I wanted to be sure that we weren't making an Abbott & Costello Go to Korea, using the war just as a straight line for the jokes. The war had to be a springboard for our best efforts, exploring the horror, not ignoring it." Everyone agreed that this would be, in Reynolds' words, "a different Hawkeye, more sensitive, compassionate and serious than in the film but, through Alan's lovely comic touch, an engaging man withal."
He proved to be something more than that. Like the hero of Fenimore Cooper's Leatherstocking Tales, this Hawkeye is an exemplar of the American democrat, the self-reliant nobleman of nature who trailblazes into a wilderness of the spirit and emerges stronger and wiser. Alda's modern pathfinder is also very much a man of the mid-20th century: liberally educated and not reluctant to parade it, perversely triumphant in a milieu he blithely declares himself unfit to inhabit, japing and shambling after women, with a quip and an invisible cigar, like a Wasp Groucho. In later episodes, Hawkeye occasionally looked as if he were campaigning for canonization. But he could still bend, and come near breaking, whether in realizing he had a serious drinking problem or in surrendering to the inexplicable but powerful erotic appeal of his long time nemesis, Hot Lips Houlihan.
Every sitcom must have its bad guys, even as every war finds its black-market profiteers, body-count fanatics and suspicious spooks. M*A*S*H had its fair and flaky share, led by Frank Burns, the camp martinet. As Linville notes, Burns had "a mind that's obviously stripped its gears, and yet here he is standing over other human beings with a knife in his hand." At first, locked in a dead end affair with Frank, Hot Lips was simply a stock shrew, an excellent nurse but a failure as a woman. She was also attracted despite herself to the antic Hawkeye and Trapper John, and Swit and the writers saw possibilities in that. "First she be came unhappy with Frank," Swit recalls. "She realized there had to be something more in life for her. Then she started to talk about how lonely her position of authority made her feel. She was married and divorced, and she softened and hardened and grew from that experience. In the episode 'Comrades in Arms,' where she and Hawkeye are stranded and make love, both characters changed: they could never be true archrivals again."
In a superior TV comedy series, familiarity breeds regeneration. The actors become wedded to their characters and, like fond spouses, exchange idiosyncrasies. The writers learn more about the actors and incorporate the nuances into the story lines. M*A*S*H had another advantage, although at the time it must have seemed a daunting challenge. Four of the first season's eight regular cast members eventually left the show, and with each replacement the circle of community became tighter. In his rubber-limbed way, Stevenson's Colonel Blake had been as much a MASH misfit as Frank Burns: a suburban doctor reluctant to command, with a fisherman's wily patience and a heart of puppy chow. When Stevenson departed after the third season (his character was reported killed in an airplane crash in the Sea of Japan), Harry Morgan as Colonel Sherman Potter took over. A cavalryman in the first World War who turned medic and was Regular Army to his jodhpurs, Potter became the stern but sentimental father figure every MASHman needed 7,000 miles from home. Similarly, B.J. Hunnicut was an idealistic Marin County version of Trapper John, and Winchester, however smug he might appear to be about his old-money Bostonian lineage, was a Persian pussycat compared with Frank Burns. Each of these characters and actors fed the M*A*S*H organism without disrupting it. Each helped keep the show alive and healthy without breaking the circle.
After 256 episodes, 104 hours of enriching entertainment, M*A*S*H is preparing to complete the circle in a blaze of hype and hush-hush. In this week's episode (the last to be filmed), the 4077 troop buries a time capsule in anticipation of the war's end. For next week's 2 -hour finale, the company is maintaining a who-shot-J.R.-style secrecy in hope of snagging the highest single-show rating ever. "It's a very simple story," says Alda, who directed and helped write the final show. "The war comes to an end, and the stories of the lives of these people in this place are resolved." There are hints that Klinger will get married and Hawkeye will come close to a nervous breakdown. Beyond that, speculation turns to fancy. Will Radar or Frank or Trapper or even a resurrected Henry Blake return, in person or in flashback? Will everyone survive the armistice? Or will, as one waggish M*A*S*H watcher suggests, the 4077 be told that they have been literally in Korea for these eleven years, that it is now 1963 and time to re-up for Viet Nam?
Two things are certain. The first is that Potter, Klinger and Father Mulcahy will be reunited next season on CBS in After MASH, a series set in a Veterans hospital in the U.S., to be written by Gelbart and produced by Metcalfe. The second is that in the post-op of reruns, the members of the 4077 will continue indefinitely to act bonkers, save lives and refresh viewers' spirits. Radar will lose and find his Teddy bear and, maybe, lose his virginity. Klinger will show up in that cunning little chiffon number he bought in Seoul. Frank will fritter and whine and cluck like a chicken. B.J. will keep trying to prove he is not the most decent soul south of the 38th parallel. Winchester will open another picnic basket from Mater and savor caviar on a tongue depressor. Father Mulcahy will smile and sigh. Trapper will somehow keep his balance on that second-banana peel. Hot Lips will practice her yoga and do her nails. Henry will accidentally impale himself on a hypodermic needle. Hawkeye will wonder at the insanity of it all, and wonder too whether he is part of the problem or the solution. And Sherman Potter, who has seen it all before in other wars, will grimace like the Sphinx and let the vinegar flow all the way home.
Dear Mildred, I'm sure you've heard, my dear. The war is over. Horse hockey-pucks! it took longer than I'd've thought. I sometimes wonder whether we're getting better at this sort of thing. The men of the 4077 would surely say we ought to get worse and then give it up. One of them called me sit down and listen to this "a tough, bandy-legged little mustang. " Donkey doughnuts! That Winchester can get under my old hide. I guess all of them have, and I guess they'll stay there. When I came to this MASH they looked like a strange new breed of soldier.
Of course, they're really civilian doctors, and damn good ones too. I'm gonna miss them. Hey, Mother, what say we bring the whole lot of them over to the home for one last schnapps? It'd sure beat watching that thing you've been spending all your time with what's it, television?
Love forever, Sherman By Richard Corliss. Reported by Denise Worrell/Los Angeles
With reporting by Denise Worrell/Los Angeles
'MASH' star McLean Stevenson dies
February 16, 1996
LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- McLean Stevenson, best remembered for his role as a womanizing, clumsy commanding officer in the hit television series "MASH," died of a heart attack Friday, his agent said. He was 66.
Stevenson's agent Robert Malcolm declined to confirm reports that the actor had had a heart attack while undergoing bladder surgery.
Stevenson starred as Lt. Col. Henry Blake of the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital in the first three seasons of the CBS series from 1972 to 1975. The role won him a 1973 Golden Globe award and a 1974 Emmy nomination.
He left "MASH" -- based on the 1970 Robert Altman movie of the same name about an Army field hospital -- for his own short-lived situation comedy.
In the series, Stevenson's character dies when his plane is shot down while returning home to the United States.
The son of a cardiologist, Stevenson held varied jobs before he broke into acting at age 31, only to spend over three decades in television's tinsel town. Besides MASH, he appeared in several others shows, including "The Tim Conway Hour," "The Doris Day Show," and "Diff'rent Strokes."
He also worked on the unsuccessful presidential campaign of his cousin and Democratic presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson in 1952 and 1956.
Stevenson is survived by his wife, Ginny; daughter Lindsey; son Jeffrey MacGregor; and sister, Ann Whitney.
Funeral arrangements were pending, Malcolm said.
'M*A*S*H' actor Linville dead at 60
Linville played high-strung Major Frank Burns on "M*A*S*H" for five seasons
April 11, 2000
From staff and wire reports
NEW YORK -- Hollywood is mourning the death of Larry Linville, best known for his role as Maj. Frank Burns on the CBS television show "M*A*S*H." Linville died Monday of pneumonia at Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. He was 60.
"He was a wonderful man, a wonderful father, and certainly well prepared for the acting craft," recalled Jamie Farr, who co-starred with Linville in the long-running show.
Linville had been fighting a battle with cancer for years and had been in and out of Sloan-Kettering, the actor's manager said. He had been admitted when a tumor was found on a vocal nodule and in 1998 had a lung removed.
The Ojai, California, native was born September 29, 1939. An actor who'd trained at the Royal Academy in London, Linville had been living in New York.
Along with Farr, Linville co-starred with Alan Alda, Wayne Rogers and Loretta Switt in the show. It premiered in 1972, just after the hit movie of the same name.
Farr remembers Linville as a dedicated father
Using a blend of comedy, sardonic wit and stark political commentary, M*A*S*H* depicted the lives of the military staff at the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital, where Linville played a whiny military stickler smitten with the head nurse (Switt).
The TV show that defined Linville's career continued until 1983, but he left after its fifth season. He went on to guest roles on numerous television series, and had roles in the shows "Grandpa Goes to Washington," "Checking In" and "Paper Dolls."
Linville is survived by his wife, Deborah, and daughter Kelly. A memorial service in New York is pending. Linville's remains will be cremated and taken to Sacramento, California.
Harry Morgan, Colonel Potter on M*A*S*H, Dies at 96
By MICHAEL POLLAK
Published: December 7, 2011
Harry Morgan, the prolific character actor best known for playing the acerbic but kindly Colonel Potter in the long-running television series M*A*S*H, died on Wednesday morning at his home in Los Angeles. He was 96.
His son Charles confirmed his death, saying Mr. Morgan had been treated for pneumonia recently.
In more than 100 movies, Mr. Morgan played Western bad guys, characters with names like Rocky and Shorty, loyal sidekicks, judges, sheriffs, soldiers, thugs and police chiefs.
On television, he played Officer Bill Gannon with a phlegmatic but light touch to Jack Webb's always-by-the-book Sgt. Joe Friday in the updated Dragnet, from 1967 to 1970. He starred as Pete Porter, a harried husband, in the situation comedy Pete and Gladys (1960-62), reprising a role he had played on December Bride (1954-59). He was also a regular on the Richard Boone Show (1963-64), Kentucky Jones (1964-65), The D.A. (1971-72), Hec Ramsey (1972-74), You Can't Take It With You (1987) and Blacke's Magic (1986).
But to many fans he was first and foremost Col. Sherman T. Potter, commander of the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital unit in Korea. With a wry smile, flat voice and sharp humor, Mr. Morgan played Colonel Potter from 1975 to 1983, when M*A*S*H went off the air. He replaced McLean Stevenson , who had quit the series, moving into the role on the strength of his performance as a crazed major general in an early episode.
In an interview for the Archive of American Television, Mr. Morgan said of his M*A*S*H character: He was firm. He was a good officer and he had a good sense of humor. I think it's the best part I ever had.
Colonel Potter's office had several personal touches. The picture on his desk was of Mr. Morgan's wife, Eileen Detchon. To relax, the colonel liked to paint and look after his horse, Sophie a sort of inside joke, since the real Harry Morgan raised quarter horses on a ranch in Santa Rosa. Sophie, to whom Colonel Potter says goodbye in the final episode, was Mr. Morgan's own horse.
In 1980 his Colonel Potter earned him an Emmy Award as best supporting actor in a comedy series. During the shooting of the final episode, he was asked about his feelings. Sadness and an aching heart, he replied.
Harry Morgan was born Harry Bratsburg on April 10, 1915, in Detroit. His parents were Norwegian immigrants. After graduating from Muskegon High School, where he played varsity football and was senior class president, he intended to become a lawyer, but debating classes in his pre-law major at the University of Chicago stimulated his interest in the theater.
He made his professional acting debut in a summer stock production of At Mrs. Beam's in Mount Kisco, N.Y., and his Broadway debut in 1937 in the original production of Golden Boy, starring Luther Adler, in a cast that also included Karl Malden.
After moving to California in 1942, he was spotted by a talent scout in a Santa Barbara stock company's production of William Saroyan's one-act play Hello Out There. Signing a contract with 20th Century Fox, he originally used the screen name Henry Morgan, but changed Henry to Harry in the 1950s to avoid confusion with the radio and television humorist Henry Morgan.
Mr. Morgan attracted attention almost immediately. In The Ox-Bow Incident (1943), which starred Henry Fonda, he was praised for his portrayal of a drifter caught up in a lynching in a Western town. Reviewing A Bell for Adano (1945), based on John Hersey's novel about the Army in a liberated Italian town, Bosley Crowther wrote in The New York Times that Mr. Morgan was crude and amusing as the captain of M.P.'s.
He went on to appear in All My Sons (1948), based on the Arthur Miller play, with Edward G. Robinson and Burt Lancaster; The Big Clock (1948), in which he played a silent, menacing bodyguard to Charles Laughton; Yellow Sky (1949), with Gregory Peck and Anne Baxter; and the critically praised western High Noon (1952), with Gary Cooper. Among his other notable films were The Teahouse of the August Moon (1956), with Marlon Brando and Glenn Ford, and Inherit the Wind (1960), with Spencer Tracy and Fredric March, in which he played a small-town Tennessee judge hearing arguments about evolution in the fictionalized version of the Scopes monkey trial. In How the West Was Won (1962) he played Gen. Ulysses S. Grant.
After a personable performance as Glenn Miller's pianist, Chummy MacGregor, in The Glenn Miller Story (1954), starring James Stewart, he often played softer characters as well as his trademark hard-bitten tough guys. There were eventually a number of comedies on his resume, among them John Goldfarb, Please Come Home (1965), with Shirley MacLaine and Peter Ustinov; The Flim-Flam Man (1967), with George C. Scott; Support Your Local Sheriff! (1969), with James Garner and Walter Brennan; and The Apple Dumpling Gang (1975), a Disney movie with Tim Conway and Don Knotts.
He returned as Bill Gannon, by now promoted to captain, in the 1987 movie Dragnet, a comedy remake of the series starring Dan Aykroyd and Tom Hanks.
Mr. Morgan's television credits were prodigious. He once estimated that in one show or another, he was seen in prime time for 35 straight years. Regarded as one of the busiest actors in the medium, he had continuing roles in at least 10 series, which, combined with his guest appearances, amounted to hundreds of episodes. He reprised the role of Sherman Potter in AfterMASH (1983-85), a short-lived spinoff.
Among the later shows on which he appeared as a guest star were The Love Boat, 3rd Rock From the Sun, urder, She Wrote and The Jeff Foxworthy Show.
Mr. Morgan's first wife, Eileen Detchon, died in 1985 after 45 years of marriage. He is survived by his wife, Barbara Bushman, whom he married in 1986; three sons from his first marriage, Christopher, Charles and Paul; and eight grandchildren. A fourth son, Daniel, died in 1989. Mr. Morgan lived in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles.
His son Charles, a lawyer in Los Angeles, said in a telephone interview that he would marvel at his father's photographic memory. My dad would read a script the way somebody else would read Time magazine and put it down and be on the set the next day, he said.
But Harry Morgan never sat as a guest on a talk show, Charles Morgan said; it did not seem appropriate or necessary. Appearing on a talk show to focus on himself because he was Harry Morgan, he said, was not nearly as natural as appearing in a role as Pete Porter or Bill Gannon or Colonel Potter, or as the cowboy drifter who wandered into town with Henry Fonda and got wrapped up in a vigilante brigade in Ox-Bow Incident.
Wayne Rogers, Trapper John on TV's 'M*A*S*H,' Dies at 82 (Hollywood Reporter)
6:28 PM PST 12/31/2015 by Duane Byrge
After he left the series in a contract dispute, he played another doctor on 'House Calls.'
Wayne Rogers, who starred as the irreverently cantankerous Trapper John on TV's M*A*S*H, died Thursday of complications from pneumonia, his former publicist confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter. He was 82.
The actor later played a wisecracking doctor on another CBS series, House Calls.
In 1975, Rogers left M*A*S*H after three years in a contract dispute and because he felt the writers were slighting Trapper John’s character development. Essentially, his character had become the straight man to Alan Alda’s endearingly wry Hawkeye character.
Alda shared his sorrow over Rogers passing on social media.
He was smart, funny, curious and dedicated. We made a pact to give MASH all we had and it bonded us. I loved Wayne. I'll miss him very much.
On the series, his absence was woven into the plot as Trapper John was “discharged” from the service.
Rogers turned down the Trapper John role in the series Trapper John, M.D. (Pernell Roberts played the part) because he didn't want to be typecast as a physician.
Subsequently, he starred in TV movies that dashed that image. He starred in The Lady From Yesterday, where he played a Houston businessman whose life is turned upside down when his former Vietnamese lover shows up and introduces him to the son he never knew he had.
Rogers further played against his usual nice-guy Trapper image in One Terrific Guy, playing a high school coach who induces female students to participate in bogus sex research.
His movie credits include Cool Hand Luke, Chamber of Horrors, Pocket Money, WUSA and Ghosts of Mississippi.
For Broadway, he co-produced Neil Simon’s Brighton Beach Memoirs, Biloxi Blues, Broadway Bound and a revival of The Odd Couple.
Wayne Rogers was born April 7, 1933, in Birmingham. Ala., the son of an attorney and Rhodes Scholar. Rebellious, he was sent to a school for youthful incorrigibles in Bellbuckle, Tenn.
He turned things around and graduated from Princeton in 1954 with a degree in history. While at the school, he performed in The Triangle Show, a troupe of farceurs that toured throughout the East. Following the service, Rogers enlisted in the Navy and while on leave in New York became interested in acting.
After being discharged from the Navy as a lieutenant, Rogers worked on Wall Street and then studied at Sanford Meisner's Neighborhood Playhouse. He also studied dance with Martha Graham.
In his spare time, Rogers shot pool and met fellow actor Peter Falk at an Eighth Avenue pool hall. The two struggling actors shared an apartment.
Rogers landed parts in the road companies of No Time for Sergeants and Teahouse of the August Moon and performed on stage in Bus Stop, Under the Yum Yum Tree, Misalliance and The Days and Nights of Beebee Fenstermaker.
In 1959, he moved to Los Angeles and made his motion picture debut in Odds Against Tomorrow, which starred Harry Belafonte. The same year, he had guest-starring turns on Law of the Plainsman, Zane Grey Theater and Gunsmoke.
Off-camera, Rogers was a business manager and financial counselor for fellow actors. He was part owner of a bank in San Jose, Calif., and another in North Carolina. Rogers was active in backing legislation that would allow banks to engage in such activities as underwriting corporate securities through separate subsidiaries.
He appeared often on the Fox News Channel stock investment program Cashin' In.
William Christopher, Father Mulcahy on M*A*S*H, Dies at 84
By LIAM STACK JAN. 1, 2017 (NYT)
William Christopher, the actor best known for his role as Father Francis Mulcahy on the hit 1970s-1980s sitcom M*A*S*H, died on Saturday at his home in Pasadena, Calif. He was 84.
The cause was cancer, his agent, Robert Malcolm, said. He added that Mr. Christopher had received the diagnosis a year and a half ago and had responded well to treatment until recently.
Mr. Christopher began his acting career in Broadway and Off Broadway productions in New York before pursuing television work in Los Angeles. He appeared on a number of popular shows, including The Andy Griffith Show, The Patty Duke Show, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., Hogan's Heroes and The Love Boat.
Mr. Christopher's character on M*A*S*H, Father Mulcahy was a soft-spoken Roman Catholic chaplain assigned to a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital during the Korean War. The series ran from 1972 to 1983 on CBS.
He reprised the role of Father Mulcahy in After M*A*S*H, a spinoff that aired from 1983 to 1985 and followed some of the show's main characters as they resumed civilian life after the war's end.
He became TV's quintessential padre, Loretta Swit who co-starred on M*A*S*H as the nurse Margaret Houlihan, better known as Hot Lips said in a statement. It was the most perfect casting ever known. He was probably responsible for more people coming back to the church.
Alan Alda, who portrayed Capt. Benjamin Pierce, called Hawkeye, on the show, said on Twitter that Mr. Christopher's kind strength, his grace and gentle humor weren't acted. He added, They were Bill.
In the 1990s, Mr. Christopher appeared in a touring production of The Odd Couple with another M*A*S*H cast member, Jamie Farr.
Mr. Christopher devoted much of his life offscreen to caring for his autistic son, Ned, and to championing for the developmentally disabled and their families. In 1985 he and his wife, Barbara, wrote a book, Mixed Blessings, about the challenges they faced as the parents of an autistic child.
There is no magic cure for autism, the couple told People magazine in 1989. Parents should know that it's a lifelong fight to get what your child needs. They should make sure to save time for themselves, and they should allow themselves to cry.
William Christopher was born Oct. 20, 1932, in Evanston, Ill., and grew up in the city's northern suburbs, according to The Chicago Sun-Times.
He graduated from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn., with a bachelor's degree in drama.
Survivors include his wife and two sons, John and Ned, Mr. Malcolm said.
David Ogden Stiers, ‘M.A.S.H.’ actor who became voice of Disney movies, dies at 75
by Harrison Smith March 4, 2018 (WP)
David Ogden Stiers, who played the snobbish but sympathetic surgeon Winchester on television’s “M.A.S.H.” and later delighted a generation of children with voice roles in Disney movies, including as the clock Cogsworth in “Beauty and the Beast,” died March 3 at his home in Newport, Ore. He was 75.
He had bladder cancer, agent Mitchell Stubbs wrote in a tweet announcing the death.
Mr. Stiers, who once declared that “villains are a slice of heaven,” lent his large stature and booming voice to King Lear, scheming scientists and occasionally sympathetic physicians in more than 150 plays, movies and television programs, including the Stephen King series “The Dead Zone” and eight Perry Mason courtroom dramas.
He performed as the alcoholic magician Feldman the Magnificent in the 1974 Broadway musical “The Magic Show,” appeared in five Woody Allen films (beginning with the 1988 thriller “Another Woman”) and eventually established a second career in music, working as a guest conductor for orchestras and helping found a symphony in Newport, his home for more than two decades.
But he was best known for his work on “M.A.S.H.,” which premiered on CBS in 1972. The series offered comedic and caustic commentary on the Vietnam War, which was then in its closing stages, through its depiction of Army surgeons in Korea 20 years earlier.
Mr. Stiers had initially believed his TV destiny was to play a truculent character on the “Mary Tyler Moore Show,” where he appeared in three episodes as a station manager who berates the program’s title character. “I hoped to be the man who fired Mary at the end of the series,” he once joked to Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper. “I’d have been the most hated man in America.”
Instead he was recruited to “M.A.S.H.,” where beginning in 1977 he replaced the arrogant and AWOL Frank Burns (Larry Linville) as second-in-command of the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital.
As the tall and balding Maj. Charles Emerson Winchester III, he was frequently at the receiving end of pranks by surgeons Hawkeye Pierce (Alan Alda) and B.J. Hunnicutt (Mike Farrell), though his medical expertise, dry humor and flashes of generosity and kindness made him a more three-dimensional comic foil than his predecessor at the hospital.
Mr. Stiers, a Juilliard-trained Midwesterner, deployed a Boston Brahmin accent that he developed without the help of a voice coach, and supplied Winchester with a love of Wagner and Mussorgsky that mirrored his own affection for classical music.
In one 1980 episode, Winchester devoted himself to a patient’s leg wound before realizing that the soldier was a concert pianist, with a hand injury that had largely been left untreated. Setting aside his usual pomposity, Mr. Stiers’s character helped the soldier return to the piano by giving him the sheet music of Ravel’s “Piano Concerto for the Left Hand.” “Each of must dance to his own tune,” he declared at the end of the episode.
Mr. Stiers was nominated for two straight Emmy Awards for outstanding supporting actor in a comedy, and received a third nomination for his supporting role in the 1984 miniseries “The First Olympics: Athens 1896,” in which he played U.S. Olympic Committee founder William Milligan Sloane.
For years after “M.A.S.H.” ended in 1983, however, Mr. Stiers lamented that he was known for Winchester rather than for any of his subsequent work. He referred to the television program as “the four-letter word” or “the green show,” and seemed to prefer being identified by younger fans who recognized his voice from Disney movies.
In addition to his 1991 roles as the narrator and fussy timepiece in “Beauty and the Beast,” Mr. Stiers played Governor Ratcliffe and the clueless manservant Wiggins in “Pocahontas” (1995), the friendly archdeacon in “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (1996), a skeptical Smithsonian Institution board member in “Atlantis: The Lost Empire” (2001) and Jumba Jookiba, the self-described “evil genius” of “Lilo & Stitch” (2002).
“The joy is to see that mouth drop open as they try to put the voice of that tiny clock [in ‘Beauty and the Beast’] with this tub of lard — me,” Mr. Stiers told the Orlando Sentinel in 2002, describing a typical encounter with his young fans. “It isn’t adoration; it’s a moment of learning. And that, to me, is a little slice of heaven.”
He was born in Peoria, Ill., on Oct. 31, 1942. His father was an accountant for the manufacturer Georgia-Pacific.
Mr. Stiers graduated from high school in Eugene, Ore., before beginning his acting career at the California Shakespeare Festival in Santa Clara. He studied acting and voice at the Juilliard School in Manhattan and made his Broadway debut in December 1973, performing with actor and producer John Houseman’s group the Acting Company in revivals of four plays. Months later, he appeared alongside Zero Mostel in “Ulysses in Nighttown,” a play adapted from James Joyce’s novel “Ulysses.”
Mr. Stiers made his final Broadway appearance in a 2009 revival of “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas” — he played Gen. Henry Waverly, whose grandfatherly nature made him a far cry from Winchester — and in recent years contributed his voice to animated movies such as the English-language version of Hayao Miyazaki’s “Spirited Away” (2001).
In 2009 he announced that he was gay, telling the blog gossip-boy.com that he had kept his sexuality secret in part to continue receiving work from studios such as Disney. He had never married, and said he wished “to spend my life’s twilight being just who I am.”
He had no immediate survivors, said Stubbs.
Mr. Stiers maintained a prolific output after the end of “M.A.S.H.,” appearing in films such as the Oscar-nominated 1988 drama “The Accidental Tourist” and the comedies “Better Off Dead” (1985) and “Doc Hollywood” (1991). But he also became increasingly focused on music, a childhood interest that he pursued in earnest after remarking at a news conference that if he wasn’t acting he’d like to be conducting.
“The thing I love about the arts — music, theater, museums, galleries — is that everybody wins,” he told Canada’s National Post newspaper in 2002. “You are touched and hopefully moved, and it is unique to each person. Even though you may have listened to the same performance, what you heard could be vastly different from what anyone else heard.”
If someone unfamiliar with music was coming to the symphony only to see a former “M.A.S.H.” star conduct, he added, that was all right, too.
“If it’s a father who brings his children to see that three-named actor from that show, I’m fine with that.”
To read some articles about MASH go to http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=0mBVAAAAIBAJ&sjid=oj4NAAAAIBAJ&dq=mash%20tv%20show&pg=4223%2C5881004 and http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=eHkcAAAAIBAJ&sjid=AVIEAAAAIBAJ&dq=mash%20tv%20show&pg=4375%2C4619985 and http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=lG1kAAAAIBAJ&sjid=Ln0NAAAAIBAJ&dq=mash%20tv%20show&pg=2934%2C2706260 and http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=dPErAAAAIBAJ&sjid=FAYGAAAAIBAJ&dq=mash%20tv%20show&pg=3986%2C352428 and http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=wc4PAAAAIBAJ&sjid=7owDAAAAIBAJ&dq=mash%20mclean%20stevenson&pg=6759%2C5176107 and http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=wIVKAAAAIBAJ&sjid=ISMNAAAAIBAJ&dq=mash%20tv%20show&pg=3852%2C3917936 and http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=otwwAAAAIBAJ&sjid=89wFAAAAIBAJ&dq=mash%20alan%20alda&pg=3739%2C4104425 and http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=G5obAAAAIBAJ&sjid=-1IEAAAAIBAJ&dq=mash%20alan%20alda&pg=2027%2C5089452 and http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=jDdOAAAAIBAJ&sjid=YBMEAAAAIBAJ&dq=mash%20alan%20alda&pg=4736%2C3312641 and http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=OA5lAAAAIBAJ&sjid=rX4NAAAAIBAJ&dq=mash%20alan%20alda&pg=5285%2C714525 and http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=3pZVAAAAIBAJ&sjid=D0ANAAAAIBAJ&dq=mash%20alan%20alda&pg=5139%2C137125
For an episode guide go to http://ctva.biz/US/Comedy/MASH.htm
For Tim's TV Showcase go to https://web.archive.org/web/20130406183810/http://www.timstvshowcase.com/mash.html
For more on The Korean War go to http://www.history.com/topics/korean-war
For an article on the real Hawkeye Pierce go to https://www.history.com/news/why-the-real-life-hawkeye-pierce-hated-mash
For some MASH-related interview videos at the Archive of American Television go to https://interviews.televisionacademy.com/shows/mash
For 2 more great reviews of M*A*S*H* go to http://www.museum.tv/eotv/mash.htm and http://www.televisionheaven.co.uk/shows_man_to_mc.htm#mash
To watch the MASH song "I Don't Wan't No More of Army Life" go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GpzQVACuJII
� Date: Tue March 14, 2017 � Filesize: 63.8kb, 327.3kb � Dimensions: 1500 x 1200 �
Keywords: The Cast of MASH (Links Updated 7/10/18)