M*A*S*H (1972–1983)
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The Billfold Syndrome 

Major Winchester decides to quit talking to everyone at the camp, which Hawkeye and B.J. take as a challenge. Meanwhile, a medic gets amnesia.




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Episode cast overview:
Kevin Geer ...
Sergeant Jerry Nielson


Sgt. Jerry Neilson, Army Medic, with the 5th Regimental Combat Team, is a very frequent visitor to 4077: Jerry is currently bringing a bus load of casualties from Hill 403. Jerry asks to watch a session of OR; the Boston bugle is pouting about Mass. General Hospital. He throws down the gauntlet before his bunk mates: he goes on a "speaking strike." They almost get a rise out of him when Hawkeye accuses his parents of voting for FDR. Another bus full of wounded GIs arrives later in the day and Jerry is on board; unfortunately, Sgt. Neilson is looking at his dog tags while asking Hawkeye and BJ who he is. Col. Potter suggests calling in Major Sidney Freedman (Allan Arbus) to talk with Jerry. Sidney describes Jerry's amnesia as The Billfold Syndrome: one looks at his wallet and ID but cannot place himself. Sidney gently questions the beleaguered medic, Margaret hovers maternally; Sidney wants to place Jerry under hypnosis and have BJ and Hawkeye provide sound effects to help Jerry relive... Written by LA-Lawyer

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

directed by star | See All (1) »


Comedy | Drama | War





Release Date:

16 October 1978 (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?


Charles ties a rope from a jeep to the center tent pole and uses the jeep to pull the pole down, causing the roof of the tent to fall. As Charles drives away, you can see the other end of the rope is not tied to anything. See more »


Maj. Charles Emerson Winchester III: [Drunk out of his mind and listening to Hawkeye and BJ make fun of him losing his position at Massachusetts General] Is that what you think... Beej? Is that what all you cretins think?
Capt. Benjamin Franklin 'Hawkeye' Pierce: Did you hear something that sounded like Charles?
Capt. B.J. Hunnicutt: The mummy speaks!
Maj. Charles Emerson Winchester III: Indeed, and I'm going to rise from this hideous tomb and leave all you relics behind.
Capt. Benjamin Franklin 'Hawkeye' Pierce: Going somewhere Charles?
Maj. Charles Emerson Winchester III: You bet your beer soaked brain I am.
[Holds up piece of paper]
Maj. Charles Emerson Winchester III: Read this and weep. This is from the Massachusetts General Hospital, see
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References It Happened One Night (1934) See more »


The Old Gray Mare
Played on the piano by William Christopher
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User Reviews

Brilliant Program!!
22 October 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Entertainer Alan Alda did a brilliant job in directing "The Billfold Syndrome" in the 1978-1979 Television Season. The opening clip of the episode had Corporal Kilnger picking up trash near the confines of the 4077th. Major Winchester -- in a big disgust -- ripped up a letter he received in the mail. Corporal Klinger picked up the letter knowing about Major Winchester's rejection to become head thoracic surgeon at Boston General Hospital. He acted in anger and tore the letter into ten pieces. All of the sudden, the incoming wounded soldiers arrived at the 4077th; Sergeant Nielsen arrived with the wounded soldiers to see the whole camp observe surgery.

Major Winchester -- in his haste -- developed a case of the crankiness in surgery. For one thing, he resented the fact that Sergeant Nielsen was in surgery to observe the wounded patients recover well. For a second thing, he was passed up to become chief thoracic surgeon as Boston General Hospital because of his assignment to the 4077th during the war; moreover, he would declare war on everyone in camp by not speaking to anybody at all. Little did he knew that Captains Pierce and Hunnicutt would make him talk in this episode.

Before the start of Act Two, Sergeant Nielsen started to develop a sudden memory loss. This occurred after the doctors found out the haphazard bandaging and dressing of the wounded soldiers on the bus. Colonel Potter would notify Major Freedman about the situation where he would recognize this blank. Meanwhile, Captains Pierce and Hunnicutt sent a phony telegraph to Major Winchester about his "plans" to become chief thoracic surgeon at Boston General Hospital. This was the only way they could get him to talk within the camp; the act turned out to be a despicable act on their behalf. Major Freedman would eventually have Captains Pierce and Hunnicutt play the roles of corpsmen to find his brother. They would gradually realize that Sergeant Nielsen's brother could not be found in the battle field. In reality, his hometown was Hartford, Connecticut in this episode; and more specifically, they would discuss this traumatic ordeal in greater depth. A Sensational 14!!

4 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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