M*A*S*H: Season 9, Episode 5

Death Takes a Holiday (15 Dec. 1980)

TV Episode  |  TV-PG  |   |  Comedy, Drama, War
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While local orphans attend a Christmas party in the mess tent, Hawkeye, B.J., and Margaret try to save the life of a critically injured solider so that his family won't think of Christmas as the day that their father died.



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Episode cast overview:
Choi Sung Ho
Jeff Maxwell ...
Sally Imamura ...
Yoshi Hoover ...
Korean Boy (as Yoshiki Hoover)
Perren Page ...
Jeep Driver / Staff Sargent


It's Christmas time again. The surgeons and staff are throwing a Christmas party in the mess tent, and the children from the local orphanage are coming to join in the fun. B.J. donates a box of fudge from Peg and Charles donates some smoked oysters. Everybody in camp thinks Charles is a Scrooge, but, under the cover of darkness that night, Charles generously and anonymously donates packages of chocolate bars from home to the orphanage. The Christmas party takes off without a hitch. Colonel Potter dresses as Santa Claus and the children are having fun, but Hawkeye, B.J., and Margaret miss out on the festivities when a mortally wounded man lands in pre-op. When learning the man is a husband and loving father, B.J. tries with all his might and skill to delay the man's death so his family won't remember this Christmas as they day their daddy died. Will they succeed? Or will they somehow be able to move the hands of time so the man makes it until after Christmas? Written by <Explorerds6789>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

christmas | directed by star | See All (2) »


Comedy | Drama | War






Release Date:

15 December 1980 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Photophone Sound Recording)


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The title is from the movie Death Takes a Holiday (1934). See more »


Trees with green summer leaves are visible in the outdoor scene where the truck from the orphanage arrives. See more »


Choi Sung Ho: The candy would have brought great joy to the children for a few moments, but on the black market it was worth enough rice and cabbage to feed them for a month.
Major Charles Winchester: It is sadly inappropriate to give dessert to a child who's had no meal.
See more »


References Wing and a Prayer (1944) See more »


Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town
Written by J. Fred Coots and Haven Gillespie
Performed by Alan Alda with alternate lyrics ("Santa Gauze Is Coming to Town")
See more »

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User Reviews

This One Makes Me Cry
23 April 2015 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

It is Christmas and the supply truck containing dinner has been hit by the enemy. So everyone ponies up with their treats from home to help the orphans celebrate. All except Charles, who gives up a can of smoked oysters. This seems chintzy, but it turns out he follows a tradition. He has large packages of candy that he delivers to the poor on Christmas every year. This is no exception. He drives to the place the kids live to carry this on. Of course, everyone calls him Charles Ebeneezer Winchester because they don't understand what he is doing (anonymously). The other plot is an attempt to keep a sniper victim alive long enough so he doesn't die on Christmas Day. An incredibly touching episode.

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