20 M*A*S*H Secrets Revealed
20. Based on a Book
Many people may not know this, but the show was based on a novel published in 1968 by Richard Hooker about his time during the Korean War. It would be only four years later that M.A.S.H would debut and last over 11 seasons.
19. Cast Switcheroo
According to the casting director, Mclean Stevenson wanted the role of Hawkeye; however, he took the role of Henry Blake when the show creator felt he would suit the role better. Personally, we can’t imagine anyone else playing the part.
18. Actual Soldiers
Actors Jamie Farr and Alan Alda both served in the United States Army. Farr served in Japan, while Alda went to Korea as part of the Army Reserve; however, Alda only spent a total of six months in the country.
17. Original Trapper John
Standup comedian Robert Klein was actually offered the role of Trapper John, however, he turned it down due to a commitment to his stand-up comedy routine. He would eventually make his television debut on “Comedy Tonight.”
16. Wayne Rogers’ Exit
Actor Wayne Rogers played the role of Trapper John for the first four seasons of M.A.S.H; however, disputes with the direction of the character led Rogers to quit after the series’ fourth season. Why was Rogers able to walk away so easily? Unlike the rest of the cast, Rogers actually didn’t have a contract. This would never fly in Hollywood today.
15. Gay Klinger
The original idea for the role of Klinger was that he was to appear in one episode, as a gay character; however, the role was rewritten for Jamie Farr as a straight man who cross-dressed to get out of the Korean War. Obviously, it didn’t work since Farr remained on the show for all eleven seasons.
14. Diminishing Laughter
Originally, the executive producers of the show didn’t want a laugh track used for the show, but CBS overruled. The compromise was that the laugh track would be omitted from the operating room scenes. Eventually, as the seasons progressed, the laugh track was used less and less.
13. Pilot Swiftness
The original pilot for the show was written by Larry Gelbart in three days. He only received $25,000 for the episode; that’s it. We bet he’s wishing he had negotiated a royalty deal after that botched contract negotiation.
12. Henry Blake Death
According to show insiders, only one person knew that Henry Blake would be meeting his maker and that was Alan Alda. The rest of the cast was caught off guard when it was revealed he would be leaving the series at the end of the third season.
11. Guest Stars Galore
One thing M.A.S.H was known for was its star power, in terms of guest appearances. Over the course of its run, Ron Howard appeared as an underage Marine, Patrick Swayze played a soldier with leukemia, and Leslie Nielson appeared as a colonel.
10. Multitasking Alda
Alan Alda, who starred as Hawkeye Pierce, would go on to direct 31 episodes of the show during its eleven-year run. On top of that, he would write 13 episodes. How’s that for commitment?
9. The Disappearing Bear
The infamous bear that the character Radar, played by Gary Burghoff, carried around ended up disappearing for over 30 years. However, in 2005 it reappeared at an auction, where Burghoff was able to purchase it back.
8. Time Capsule
The last season of the show found the main cast burying a time capsule underneath Fox Ranch. A few months after the show’s conclusion, the capsule was actually found by a construction worker. We have to wonder what was found inside.
7. Failed Spin-Off #1
When M.A.S.H. ended, the producers wanted to ride on the waves of success and launched the show After M.A.S.H starring Harry Morgan, Jamie Farr, and William Christopher. Unfortunately, it was an ultimate ratings failure and only lasted two seasons. We have a feeling that the lack of Alan Alda had something to do with it.
6. Failed Spin-Off #2
Another spin-off of the show was crafted titled W.A.L.T.E.R and was to focus on the character of Radar. However, the pilot only aired once and the series idea abandoned. We think this was for the best.
5. Alda’s Emmy
Alan Alda experienced fame like no other when it came to the show and would end up being the first person to ever win Emmys for directing, writing, and acting on the same show. We have to say, he deserved every single one.
4. Diversity at its Finest
It seems, back in the 70s, diversity wasn’t a problem in Hollywood. M.A.S.H featured Chinese-American actors and actresses, as well as Japanese actors who played parts as Korean soldiers and officers. Looking back, the show embraced diversity as part of its platform and was all the better for it.
3. Cast Complaints
According to the head writer, Ken Levine, the cast of the show complained about the scripts a lot in the beginning. Therefore, the writers of the show forced the cast to act out long scenes in heavy winter-coats during winter scenes. After this, the complaints ceased. We have a feeling the point was made.
2. Real Life Daughter
Mike Farrell’s daughter on the show was originally going to be named Melissa; however, he requested the character be renamed Erin because of his real-life daughter. The producers complied, which is a nice tribute to his family, we have to say.
1. The Final Episode
According to those working on the show, the final episode “Goodbye, Farewell and Amen” was not the last to be shot. In fact, the previous episode, “As time Goes By,” was the last episode to be filmed; it involved the cast creating the infamous time capsule that would be buried underneath the Fox Studios lot.