Expanding on that, both Farr and Alan Alda served in the U.S. Army in Korea, albeit after the shooting war had ended.note Alda did a six-month tour as a gunnery officer in the Reserves; Farr was stationed in Tokyo and later accompanied Red Skelton on a Korean USO tour. Farr actually wore his own dogtags while playing Klinger.
"Abyssinia" wasn't really Henry's magic word for goodbye, in fact, he only said it once throughout his entire stay on the show. More often than not, whenever he bode someone farewell, he would say, "Goom-bye!"
Creator Backlash: Dr. Richard Hooker, the author of the original novel, despised this series so much, that when he was asked about the series' end in 1983, he said the only thing he would miss were the royalty checks.
Somewhat with producer/director Gene Reynolds. Although he left from producing, directing, and running the show after Season Five, Alan Alda continued to consult with him on the show's production on a weekly basis. There were a few changes that Reynolds was not entirely pleased with, such as Frank Burns's departure, the writers originally trying to find ways to hook Margaret up with Charles, and Margaret's eventual divorce.
Interestingly, her name in the show varies. She has been Nurse Kealani Kellye, Nurse Kellye Yamato, Nurse Abel, Nurse Charlie, and Nurse Baker. And a few times, characters have (apparently mistakenly) referred to her as Nurse Nakahara or Lieutenant Nakahara.
The character is supposed to be part Chinese and part Hawaiian Native. Kealani was the name Nakahara and Alan Alda came up with.
Also, Corpsman Roy Goldman, played by actor Roy Goldman.
Another instance, Frank asks Igor, played by Jeff Maxwell, his name, to which he responds "Maxwell". It appears to have been a mistake by actor Jeff Maxwell; Larry Linville didn't miss a beat.
Likewise nurses Gwen Farrell and Jennifer Davis, played by Gwen Farrell (no relation to Mike) and Jennifer Davis.
Dawson Casting: Gary Burghoff played 18-year-old farmboy Radar well into his thirties.
By the end of the series, most of the actors were visibly greying and showing other signs of age. This would have been less problematic if the Korean War—and therefore the timespan of the show—hadn't only consisted of three years.
Directed by Cast Member: Alan Alda (32 episodes), Harry Morgan (8 episodes), Mike Farrell (5 episodes), David Ogden Stiers (2 episodes), Jamie Farr (1 episode).
The show's runtime was 26 minutes in it's original broadcast run, so you figure that's roughly five to six minute's worth of show that's cut out for today's commercialism. In fact, entire scenes will get axed, thus giving the story plot holes (wonder why Henry has a piece of surgical tape on his ear in, "The Ringbanger"? In a cut scene, Frank startles him while he's trimming his hair in his tent, and ends up slicing his ear with the scissors).
Another example of how this show has suffered in syndication is many episodes from the first five seasons have their entire tag cut, resulting in cliffhanger endings. The episodes that suffer this are as follows:
"Pilot Episode" (S1) - PA announcer gives out an oral cast roll call in a similar fashion as The Movie
"To Market, To Market" (S1) - Charlie Lee delivers the hydrocortisone to Hawkeye and Trapper while Henry tries to come up with an explanation of his desk disappearing to his insurance company
"Chief Surgeon, Who?" (S1) - Frank seems to finally accept Hawkeye being appointed Chief Surgeon during another O.R. stint
"Sometimes You Hear the Bullet" (S1) - Hawkeye and Trapper swipe Frank's Purple Heart and present it to Wendell/Walter so he can still return home a decorated hero without endangering himself any further
"Showtime" (S1) - As the U.S.O. show winds down, the cast is show in the audience as their actors' names appear on screen.
"Divided We Stand" (S2) - PA announcer invites viewers to continue watching the antics of the main cast, who are once again presented in an oral roll call
"5 O'Clock Charlie" (S2) - Hawkeye and Trapper contemplate missing Charlie, while buttering up Frank into joining them for dinner in the Mess Tent
"Dr. Pierce and Mr. Hyde" (S2) - Hawkeye is finally asleep in the Swamp, while Trapper and Henry discuss his sleep-deprivation-induced antics
"Officers Only" (S2) - Hawkeye and Trapper spike Frank's drink, while he fumes over General Mitchell continuously dancing with Margaret
"Operation: Noselift" (S2) - Hawkeye and Trapper see Dr. Stanley Robbins off, then start chasing nurses
"A Smattering of Intelligence" (S2) - Flagg does his own oral roll call (sensing a pattern here?) of the cast, as he deduces the personnel of the 4077th may need more observation
"The General Flipped at Dawn" (S3) - Hawkeye, Trapper, and Henry do a reprise of "Mississippi Mud" in the Swamp
"Springtime" (S3) During a midnight rainstorm, Radar asks to borrow any poetry books from Hawkeye and Trapper, who comment on his clearing skin and deepening voice
"Life With Father" (S3) - While the camp celebrates the circumcision of the Jewish Korean-American baby, Hawkeye and Trapper ride off into the sunset on a white horse
"A Full Rich Day" (S3) - Hawkeye finishes off his audio tape to his father by letting Trapper, Henry, and Frank say a few final words
"Private Charles Lamb" (S3) - The morning after the Greek Easter celebration in the Mess Tent; half the personnel are passed out drunk, while the other half carry on a listless celebration in a drunken stupor: including Henry passing out face-first into the Spam Lamb
"The Consultant" (S3) - The surgical staff bid Dr. Borelli a farewell on the chopper pad, including Hawkeye
"Love and Marriage" (S3) - The Korean corpsman names his baby after Radar, Hawkeye, Trapper, and Henry
"White Gold" (S3) - Hawkeye and Trapper gloat over Flagg recovering in Post-Op from his (unnecessary) appendectomy
"The Bus" (S4) - Frank still fiddles with the walky-talky, while Hawkeye and B.J. find the other one in the back of the bus, and have their North Korean prisoner speak into it as a joke on Frank, letting him believe he's intercepted the enemy and is listening in on their secrets
"Quo Vadis, Captain Chandler?" (S4) - Hawkeye and B.J. play a game with a road atlas, while Klinger masquerades as Moses
"Dear Peggy" (S4) - B.J. finishes his letter to Peggy while playing chess with Hawkeye, and Klinger is arrested going AWOL while camouflaged as a bush
"Soldier of the Month" (S4) - Radar is arrested and brought back to camp after getting drunk and disorderly while on R&R (and even he can't believe his charges)
"The Gun" (S4) - Frank limps from the graze on his foot, which he claims is a football injury, though Hawkeye and B.J. know better
"The Price of Tomato Juice" (S4) - Potter thanks Radar for going through so much trouble to get tomato juice for him, while Klinger returns from having a fun time in Tokyo with General Barker
"Dear Sigmund" (S5) - A brief voice-over from Sidney during another long O.R. session, "They look everyday into the face of death. On the surface, they may seem like other doctors and nurses, but underneath... ah, Sigmund... underneath..."
"Mulcahy's War" (S5) - Hawkeye and Radar bid farewell to Corporal Cupcake, while Radar remarks how strange it'll feel to be outranked by a dog when Cupcake receives his promotion
"The Korean Surgeon" (S5) - Frank tries to play up going along with the North Korean guerillas by saying he gave them medical supplies since they're human too, when prompts Potter to put him in charge of tending to wounded P.O.W.s brought into camp
"Hawkeye Get Your Gun" (S5) Potter prepares for bed, while Frank and Klinger (as Zolton) check in on him before lights out
"Exorcism" (S5) - Hawkeye and B.J. play a prank on Frank, leading him to believe his radio needed to be exorcised of spirits, when B.J. was actually just plugging and unplugging it out of sight of Frank
"Hawk's Nightmare" (S5) - Hawkeye apparently is sleeping well again, while Klinger assumes his nightmare and sleepwalking episodes were a crazy act, and he considers giving it a try himself
"38 Across" (S5) - Frank finally finishes his B.B. game, and Hawkeye purposely knocks them loose
"End Run" (S5) - Frank, who has his ears bandaged from Klinger and Zale's illegal boxing match, intends to court martial them, but Klinger and Zale threaten to call him out on breaking regulations as well, so Frank drops all charges
"Hanky Panky" (S5) - Margaret finally gets through to Donald and learns he had a double hernia [[note:Early in the episode, another scene where Margaret attempts to reach him the night before is also cut]]
"Hepatitis" (S5) - B.J. is hungover, while Hawkeye attempts a handstand, throwing his back out again, and falling over on B.J.
"The General's Practitioner" (S5) - Frank asks Potter to recommend him for General Korshak's personal physician, but Potter, Hawkeye, and B.J. add all of Frank's surgical gaffes and slipups to his application
"Movie Tonight" (S5) - Everyone sings along to, "My Darling Clemetine," in O.R.
"Souvenirs" (S5) - Margaret discovers Frank had the ring she gave him inscribed to his wife, and demands he pay her to have it removed
"Margaret's Marriage" (S5) - Hawkeye, B.J., and Potter sit up with Frank, as they imagine what Margaret and Penobscott are probably doing as they speak, prompting them to head for a cold shower
Enforced Method Acting: Used (though not to the extreme that is sometimes claimed) for the final scene in "Abyssinia, Henry". The cast were not given the script for the scene until just before they went to film it, the better to capture their shocked reactions. Unfortunately, a technical glitch forced the scene to be shot a second time. The second take featured another mishap, but it was one that actually improved the scene; somebody accidentally dropped an instrument on the floor, which further enhanced the emotion of the scene.
One of the few moments we see Frank Burns actually does have some normal human feeling in him. As the camera passes by him, he has tears in his eyes.
Executive Meddling: Especially prevalent in the first couple of seasons. A lot of it was mostly restrictions on language, sexual situations, excessive blood shown on screen in the O.R., among other things. CBS practically forced them to make the episode "Major Fred C. Dobbs" (which the entire cast and crew hated) simply because one of the executives read that Korea was the fifth-largest gold producer in the world, and decided M*A*S*H needed to have a "gold rush" episode.
Executive Veto: One early season episode would have dealt with Hawkeye getting two different nurses pregnant simultaneously, and not wanting to marry either. After the script had been finished, CBS rejected it, feeling it would be a Moral Event Horizon for Hawkeye.
Fake Nationality: Due to a dearth of Korean actors in Hollywood at the time, most of the featured native Korean speaking parts were played by Asians of different ethnicities. Klinger's girlfriend/wife Soon-Li was played by actress Rosalind Chao (second-generation Chinese-American); Japanese-born actor Mako Iwamatsu played a Chinese Army surgeon, a South Korean Army officer, a North Korean soldier, and a North Korean surgeon; and Japanese-American actor Noriyuki "Pat" Morita played South Korean Army Captain Sam Pak.
I Am Not Spock: Almost all of the cast fall into this trope, but some more specific examples include:
Both Loretta Swit and David Ogden Stiers, in particular, become very agitated when they are asked about the show, or their characters, as they feel that M*A*S*H, and their roles of Margaret and Charles shouldn't be the only thing that defined their careers.
Gary Burghoff has said that he loved Radar, and enjoyed playing the part, up till about Season Three or so, then admits that he was growing tired of Radar turning into his identity outside of the show.
The Other Darrin: Father Mulcahy was played by George Morgan in the pilot episode before William Christopher took over the role.
Likewise, in the pilot episode, a minor, recurring character from earlier Season One episodes, Boone, was played by Bruno Kirby, before Bob Gooden played the character in other appearances.
Another Season One-only character, Kaplan the camp dentist, was played by Jack Riley in his debut episode, and was afterwards played by Harvey J. Goldenberg for the remainder of the season.
Margaret Houlihan's fiancÚ, Lt. Donald Penobscot, was played by a different actor in each of his two appearances on the show.
Three different actresses played Rosie, the proprietress of Rosie's Bar, during the course of the show.
There were also several different actresses playing "Nurse Able" or "Nurse Baker" in various episodes. And two different guys voiced the camp P.A. announcer.
The nurses may be an example of not caring, and were simply placeholder names used instead of creating names for unimportant background characters, much as the location of the battle the casualties are coming from is very often given as just "hill 403' (although the stagnation of the front on the later part of the war might be the cause of that).
"Able" and "Baker" are used in at least some 1950s radio alphabets. So "Nurse Able" and "Nurse Baker" are literally "Nurse A" and "Nurse B".
A vehicle example: in the finale, a tank is driven into the compound by a wounded tanker. After it starts drawing enemy mortar fire, Hawkeye drives it out of the camp. The tank driven into the camp is an M24 Chaffee light tank◊; the tank Hawkeye drives out is an M4 Sherman medium tank◊. The two look nothing alike.
Real-Life Relative: Robert Alda (Alan's dad) appeared in two episodes as visiting surgeon Anthony Borelli. The second of these also featured Antony Alda (Robert's other son and Alan's half-brother) as a medic.
Mike Farrell's then-wife Judy occasionally played Nurse Able Seasons 5-11.
Likewise, producer/director Burt Metcalfe's wife Jan Jorden played Nurse Baker, also Seasons 5-11.
William Christopher's wife Barbara appeared as a nurse in the "Dear Mildred" episode. (The two of them even got to sing a duet together!)
The picture of Mildred on Potter's desk was actually a photo of Harry Morgan's real-life wife, Eileen Detchon.
Larry Gelbart's wife played a nurse in a poker game in an early episode.
Bonnie Jones, who played nurse Barbara Bannerman throughout the first season, was married to producer, Gene Reynolds, at the time.
Reality Subtext: Sure, Klinger stopped running around in dresses because he was being promoted to company clerk, and therefore, pretty much had to forget about trying to buck for Section 8 (that and the show wasn't funny anymore, and therfore, Klinger running around in dresses would have been just plain odd during Cerebus Syndrome)... but also because Jamie Farr's kids were being bullied by their peers for their dad "being a transvestite".
Recycled Script: In season one, Hawkeye and Trapper Gaslighting a gung-ho colonel (Leslie Nielsen) - with twice the casualty rate but half the ground - into thinking he has battle fatigue and needs time to cool off. "White Gold", the second last episode of season three, ends with Hawkeye and Trapper removing Colonel Flagg's appendix to send him stateside for severel weeks. Season seven's "Preventative Medicine" has Hawkeye perform an unnecessary appendecemy on a colonel to stop him from provoking the enemy to attack him so he could take a hill he was ordered to avoid.
Ken Levine, writer of that episode, said it was unintentional, and when they discovered it they were so embarrassed they deliberately had it scheduled opposite that year's Academy Awards so fewer people would see it.
Throw It In: When a wildfire destroyed most of the show's outdoor set in Malibu during shooting for the final episode, a storyline involving a fire was added to the script.
During the second and final take of the scene where Henry's death is announced in "Abyssinia, Henry", somebody accidentally (and noisily) dropped a prop surgical tool during the long, shocked silence. Director Larry Gelbart decided to use it anyway, and later wrote that it worked so perfectly for the scene he wished he'd written it that way.
Much of the dialogue in "The Interview" is ad-libbed, with the cast improvising in-character responses to Clete Roberts's questions.
William Christopher was absent for much of Season Five, due to hepatitis. Once he returned, they did an episode in which Father Mulcahy comes down with hepatitis, and has to be quarantined.
Much of the interaction between Hawkeye and BJ in "Preventive Medicine" was based on the actual feelings of the actors towards the topic of the episode. Originally, BJ was supposed to be a willing participant in Hawkeye's quest, but Mike Farrell objected.
The "Radar's Report" episode has a scene where Hawkeye and a nurse are making out on a cot in the Post-Op ward. Suddenly we see the lights dim and go out, and the P.A. announcer comes on to say the generator's gone out. This was an actual power outage on the set while they were doing the scene; Alda and the nurse actress played through it, and the P.A. announcement was dubbed in during post-production.
What Could Have Been: A some what sad example, considering the series suffered in the ratings during its inaugural season, that an alternate version of the episode "Ceasefire" was written, in which the war actually did end; this was done in case the series wasn't renewed for a second season.
Wayne Rogers has gone on record saying that had he known the series was going to last eleven season, he would not have walked away after the third season.
When the producers learned that Gary Burghoff was not going to renew his contract at the end of Season Seven, G.W. Bailey was originally being brought in as a character replacement for Radar, however, the producers realized Radar was too beloved and irreplacable that Klinger was instead promoted to company clerk, and G.W. Bailey as Rizzo ended up replacing Johnny Haymer as Zale instead.
Write Who You Know: Pretty much done throughout the entire series, as a number of the stories came from the personal experiences of actual doctors, nurses, soldiers, corpsman, etc., who actually served tours of duty during the Korean War. Episode-specific examples include...
"In Love and War" was written by Alan Alda after he heard the story of an Asian aristocrat, who pretty much lost almost every thing she had in the world because of the war, and yet, continued to look after others who were even less fortunate, such as the elderly, and orphaned children.
Towards the end of the show's run, the potential storylines started to dry up. At that point, Korean War veterans offering stories were often told that they'd already done an episode with that premise several seasons ago.
Written By Cast Member: Alan Alda wrote 19 episodes in all, including the Emmy-winning "Inga" from season 7. McLean Stevenson has story credit on "The Army-Navy Game" and receives sole credit for "The Trial of Henry Blake," while Mike Farrell wrote "The Yalu Brick Road" and "War Co-Respondent", co-wrote "Death Takes a Holiday", and shares story credit on "Run for the Money".
Klinger was, according to Larry Gelbart, based on stories that Lenny Bruce would dress in a WAVES uniform in an attempt to get out of the Navy (the stories are actually false, based on a comedy bit he did). However in the original script, Klinger was Gay and wanted to stay in the Army, it was his commanding officers who wanted him discharged, but it was felt that a straight man wearing women's clothes for a discharge was funnier and more interesting.
McLean Stevenson (Col. Blake in the TV series) died February 15, 1996. Roger Bowen (Col. Blake in the movie) died the next day.
What's more, both men died of the same cause (heart attack). The eeriness of the coincidence, and a desire to avoid confusion, led to some media outlets "stalling" news of Bowen's death until the following week.
According to legend, during the first commercial break of the series finale the city of New York lost all water pressure because of so many people going to the bathroom.
A letter printed in TV Guide in the late '70s from a doctor who had really worked in a MASH in Korea said that the craziest antics on the show, including practical jokes and dressing up, were real. They were not far-fetched or unrealistic, just coping mechanisms for the horrific situation these people lived in. Much of what you saw either really happened, or could really happen. Other MASH veterans have pointed out that some of it would not, especially Klinger; he wouldn't have been allowed to go on crossdressing as long as he did.