Gary Burghoff's (Radar's) left hand is slightly deformed, and he took great pains to hide or de-emphasize it during filming. He did this by always holding something (like a clipboard), or keeping that hand in his pocket.
Gary Burghoff was the first actor cast. He was one of only two actors to reprise a role from the movie, MASH (1970), on which this series was based. G. Wood played General Hammond in both, but only appeared a few times.
Throughout the run of the series, any "generic" nurses (nurse characters who had a line or two, but were minor supporting characters otherwise) were generally given the names "Nurse Able", "Nurse Baker", or "Nurse Charlie". These names stem from the phonetic alphabet used by the military and HAM operators at the time. During the time period of the Korean War, the letters A, B, and C in the phonetic alphabet were Able, Baker, and Charlie (since then, the standard has been updated, and A and B are now Alpha and Bravo). In later seasons, it became more common for a real character name to be created, especially as several of the nurse actresses became semi-regulars. For example, Kellye Nakahara played "Able" and "Charlie" characters in season three, before becoming the semi-regular "Nurse Kellye"; on the other hand, Judy Farrell played Nurse Able in eight episodes, including the series finale.
Jamie Farr and Alan Alda were the only two main cast members to have actually served in the U.S. Army in South Korea. Both of them did their tours of duty after the 1953 cease fire. Farr was drafted, serving in Japan at Camp Drake before eventually touring and performing throughout South Korea with friend Red Skelton. Alda voluntarily joined the Army Reserve after graduating from Fordham, and completed the minimum six-month tour of duty as a gunnery officer.
Radar's teddy bear, once housed at the Smithsonian, was sold at auction July 29, 2005, for eleven thousand eight hundred dollars. (It was originally found on the Fox Ranch, where the series was filmed, and became part of the show.)
It was Mike Farrell who asked to have his character's daughter's name be Erin, after his real-life daughter (the character's name was originally going to be Melissa). When B.J. spoke on the telephone on-camera, Erin, or his wife Judy were on the other end.
Four characters (but only two actors) appeared in both the pilot and the finale: Hawkeye, Margaret Houlihan, Radar, and Father Mulcahy. Mulcahy was played by George Morgan in the pilot, and by William Christopher for the rest of the series, while Radar was only portrayed by Gary Burghoff, who was no longer on the show after season eight. The back of his head was still visible in the opening credits.
The hat that Alan Alda wore in the opening credits is the same as the one Donald Sutherland wore in the movie, but rarely appeared anywhere else in the series. One exception was at the end of "The Consultant". Hawkeye tipped the hat in respect as Borelli took off in the helicopter.
In his blog, M*A*S*H (1972) writer Ken Levine revealed that on one occasion when the cast offered too many nit-picky "notes" on a script, he and his writing partner changed the script to a "cold show", one set during the frigid Korean winter. The cast then had to stand around barrel fires in parkas at the Malibu ranch when the temperatures neared one hundred degrees Fahrenheit (thirty-eight degrees Celsius). Levine says, "This happened maybe twice, and we never got a ticky tack note again."
The cast did not usually wear Army boots on-set. They proved to be too noisy for a soundstage, and uncomfortable to wear during filming. The actors and actresses were usually shot from the waist up as it was, so boots were only worn when necessary for a scene. Most of the cast actually wore sneakers.
Jamie Farr chose to gradually phase out Klinger's recurring joke of wearing women's clothes because he didn't want his children, who were young at the time, teased about it while growing up. After Klinger took on the role of company clerk from Radar (Gary Burghoff), Farr practically stopped the gag altogether.
In direct contrast to the detestable and adversarial nature of Frank Burns, Larry Linville was generally well-liked and regarded by the show's other cast members. By contrast, Gary Burghoff, who played the lovable, timid, overly-polite Radar O'Reilly, was reportedly difficult, rude, and had a terrible working relationship with many of the other stars.
When the series was shown in the UK, it didn't have a laugh track. Once, the BBC left it switched on by mistake and received numerous complaints that the intrusive canned laughter spoiled the show's atmosphere.
Alan Alda was the only cast member that appeared in every episode. Loretta Swit was contracted to the show for all eleven seasons, but did not appear in season four, episode nineteen, "Hawkeye", and several episodes before and after.
Klinger often mentioned a restaurant in his hometown of Toledo, Ohio called Tony Packo's. This is a real restaurant on Toledo's east side that is still popular with many who live in Toledo and the surrounding area.
Gary Burghoff was the only regular actor to leave the series without being replaced, as Klinger took over Radar's duties as Company Clerk. Producers intended to move up recurring character Sidney Freedman to regular status to replace Radar, but Allan Arbus turned it down, not wishing to commit to a full time role on the series. Producers also considered G.W. Bailey 's character Luther Rizzo to take over Radar's job as company clerk, but Alan Alda convinced them to let Klinger's character have the job instead.
Colonel Potter fought in World War I, World War II, and the Korean War. At age fifteen he joined the cavalry, lying about his age to enlist. When World War II started, he was married, his mother-in-law moved in with them, and the war started the next day.
When originally developing the character of Maxwell Q. Klinger, it was established that he was more "swishy" and played up the wardrobe. This worked, but not well. It was Jamie Farr's idea that the character would work better if Klinger acted naturally, as if wearing dresses were completely normal. This approach worked, and Klinger found his niche in the show.
Frank Burns' (Larry Linville's) nickname "Ferret Face" came from his brother. He mentioned it to Hawkeye (Alan Alda) and Trapper (Wayne Rogers) once, during a rare drinking binge, and they never forgot it. (Even B.J.'s (Mike Farrell's) first words to Burns when they met were "What say, Ferret Face?")
When Colonel Potter took command of the 4077th at the beginning of the fourth season, the stated date was September 19, 1952. This means the first three seasons and seventy-two episodes covered the first fifteen months of the war, and that the following eight seasons and one hundred seventy-nine episodes covered just the remaining ten months. Although in season nine, episode six, "A War for All Seasons", the unit is showed celebrating New Year's Eve 1950. The show covers the entire year of 1951, and the closing scene is ringing in 1952.
As the series went on, the producers began interviewing actual M*A*S*H veterans for their stories and impressions. Many of their recollections went into storylines. The gradual thinning of fresh ideas prompted work on the series conclusion.
Klinger's wedding dress was worn on three different occasions and by three different people. By Klinger when he married Laverne Esposito, by Margret Houlihan, when she married Lieutenant Colonel Donald Penobscott, and by Soon Lee, when she married Klinger.
Lieutenant Colonel Henry Blake's (McLean Stevenson's) alma mater was the University of Illinois. When word of this reached the university, a U of I sweater (of appropriate vintage) was donated to the show, and Blake can be seen wearing the blue sweater with a large orange "I" in several episodes. An orange mug with a blue "I" also appeared on his office desk.
During the filming of the series finale, "Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen", a fire ravaged the area, burning away the set. (The fire damage shown was real, not created by the crew) and as a result, they decided not to rebuild the sets, so the only episode left (episode fifteen, "As Time Goes By") was filmed on the indoor sets, which explains why most of it was set at night, and took place inside buildings.
B.J.'s real name was never given. In one episode, Hawkeye goes to extreme lengths to learn what "B.J." stands for, but all official paperwork concerning his friend claims that B.J. really is his first name. Toward the end of the episode, B.J. explains that his parents' names are Bea and Jay, and claims that this is the reason for his odd name, but whether this was actually true was never made clear.
When Larry Linville announced that he was leaving at the end of the fifth season, the storyline of Margaret's impending marriage to Lieutenant Colonel Donald Penobscot was used as a way to write Burns out of the show.
The ubiquitous helicopters were military versions of the Bell 47. In the Korean War, the OH-13s evacuated eighty percent of American casualties. (Roads in South Korea were primitive, and often treacherous, so helicopters were favored over ambulances.) The OH-13 was responsible for saving over eighteen thousand lives during the Korean War, a historical fact still taught today at the air assault school at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, home of the 101st Airborne Division.
Gary Burghoff created his own wardrobe for Radar, emphasizing that his clothes would be a size too big. It was also his idea for Radar to have glasses, feeling that it would accent his E.S.P., whereas his lack of sight would heighten his hearing.
The dog tags worn by Jamie Farr on the show were his own personal dog tags from when he served in the military prior to becoming an actor. In one of the archival interviews found on on the extras DVDs in the Medicine and Martinis box set of the show, Jamie Farr stated that they are his own tags with his actual personal military information, including name, serial number, and religion.
William Christopher contracted an almost fatal case of Hepatitis at the start of the fifth season, resulting in his having to miss several episodes. As a result, producers were planning to write Father Mulcahy out of the show. However, Alan Alda pushed to keep him on the series, knowing how dependent Christopher was on needing steady work to help raise his autistic son. Alda went as far as writing an episode to incorporate Christopher's real-life illness into Mulcahy, helping to convince producers to keep him on the show.
The 4077th actually consisted of two separate sets. An outdoor set, located in the mountains near Malibu, California, was used for all exterior and tent scenes for the first few seasons. The indoor set, located on a soundstage at 20th Century Fox studios, was used for the indoor scenes for the run of the series. Later, after the indoor set was renovated to permit many of the "outdoor" scenes to be filmed there, both sets were used for exterior shooting as script requirements dictated (for example, night scenes were far easier to film on the soundstage, but scenes at the chopper pad required using the ranch).
The game Trivial Pursuit claims Hawkeye only ever saluted once during the entire run of the series. This is false. He saluted Radar twice, once when awarding him a purple heart, and once when he went home. He saluted Frank without thinking about it early in the series, and he did it again in season one, episode twenty-four, "Showtime", while Frank is on the toilet when Hawkeye pays him back for the practical jokes. Again when Hawkeye and B.J. saluted Colonel Potter in the series finale. Hawkeye, along with Trapper, also saluted Nurse Cutler in season one, episode three, "Requiem for a Lightweight", when she loses her towel after she bumps into them while running from the shower. Also, in the season four opener, "Welcome to Korea", when picking B.J. Hunnicutt up from Kimpo Airport, Radar is temporarily promoted to "Corporal-Captain" to gain access to the Officer's Club, Hawkeye salutes Radar right before they enter. In season one, episode fifteen, "Tuttle", Hawkeye saluted the recently deceased (and fictional) Jonathan S. Tuttle when giving a brief eulogy, and the list goes on. In season eight, episode thirteen, "Captains Outrageous", Hawkeye promotes Father Mulcahy to Captain when they are all in Rosie's Bar, and the whole gang salute Mulcahy at that time.
By the time the series ended, three of the regulars were promoted: Klinger (Jamie Farr) from Corporal to Sergeant, and Father Mulcahy (William Christopher) from Lieutenant to Captain. Frank Burns (Larry Linville) was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel when he was shipped back to the U.S. following Margaret's marriage. (Farr and Christopher also saw their names move from the closing credits of the show, to the opening credits.) Radar O'Reilly was temporarily promoted to Second Lieutenant, but disliked officer's duties, and asked Hawkeye and B.J. to "bust" him back to Corporal. Samuel Flagg (Edward Winter), the paranoid intelligence officer, was a Lieutenant Colonel for the first three seasons of the series, but had been promoted to full Colonel by the fourth season.
When the series was first going into production, the network wanted a laugh track (a sitcom staple), while the show's producers didn't. They compromised with a "chuckle track", played only occasionally. (DVD releases of the series mostly allow viewers a no-laugh-track option.) However, even the "chuckle track", it was agreed upon by all involved in the discussion, would never be used during the scenes in the surgical tent. Syndication prints eliminate the "chuckle track" (with the exception of season ten, episode one, "That's Show Biz", where it was retained.)
There was one nude scene throughout the entire series. It occurred during season two, episode ten, "The Sniper". When Radar was running outside wearing only a towel and the sniper is firing at him, he runs back into the showers at which point, the towel he was wearing was rigged to fall of. This was Director Jackie Cooper's idea, and only one frame was left in for the effect.
The creators and writers had often stated that the show was not anti-Army, it was anti-bureaucracy and anti-incompetency, and thus would appeal to any viewer who ran or dealt with large institutions of any kind.
In the final scene of season three, episode twenty-four, "Abyssinia Henry", the producers did not give the cast the last page of the script, until the very last moment before shooting, revealing that Radar comes into the operating room to announce that Henry had died in a plane crash while going home. This was to ensure their reactions were as spontaneous as possible, which included one of the cast members dropping a metal bowl on the floor, which can be heard amongst the shocked silence.
The filming location for the exteriors of the 4077th M*A*S*H camp is today known as Malibu Creek State Park in Malibu, California. Formerly called the Fox Ranch, and owned by 20th Century Fox Studios until the 1980s, the site today (early 2018) is overgrown with foliage, and marked by a rusted Jeep and an ambulance used in the show, as well as a small sign. The state park is open to the public. It was also the location where How Green Was My Valley (1941) and Planet of the Apes (1974) were filmed.
Of all the main cast who "go stateside", only Trapper John's return is not the result of a specific event. Lieutenant Colonel Henry Blake was going home, but his plane was shot down, killing all on-board. Major Frank Burns gets transferred home after having a nervous breakdown. Corporal Radar O' Reilly goes home, but only because a beloved uncle has died, and Radar gets a hardship discharge to return home and tend to his family's farm.
Recurring character Luther Rizzo was initially to have been from Brooklyn. G.W. Bailey wasn't able to believably mimic a Brooklyn accent, so Rizzo's background was changed to a southern one to match that of Bailey and his natural accent.
When Wayne Rogers first signed to do the series, it was intended by producers for the part of Trapper to be a co-starring role, and equal to that of Hawkeye. However, Alan Alda's performance on the show, as well as his creative input, quickly lead to Hawkeye being the more prominent character. This caused consternation for Rogers, and was the primary reason for his quitting the show. Despite any professional animosities, Rogers remained good friends with Alda after leaving the series.
Wayne Rogers was to initially screentest for the role of Hawkeye. However, shortly before his audition, Rogers came to determine that Hawkeye was too cynical for his liking, and finding Trapper's more positive and outgoing traits a better fit for him, decided to read for that part instead.
Although Gary Burghoff left the show after episode five in season eight, he continued to receive billing in the opening credits for the next six episodes, his name finally being removed on the opening credits for episode twelve. Mike Farrell tried to talk Burghoff out of leaving the show, citing the limited post-M*A*S*H careers of McLean Stevenson and Larry Linville.
The death of Lieutenant Colonel Blake was largely controversial and polarizing amongst television viewers and critics. While it was known that McLean Stevenson was permanently leaving the series, no one expected to see him killed off in such manner, and such a move was largely unprecedented for a primetime television series at the time. Writers and producers defended the move, which was largely viewed as a statement on the horrors of war.
A few days after the infamous season three, episode twenty-four, "Abyssinia Henry", aired, which inspired angry calls from viewers across the country, MacLean Stevenson appeared in a skit on Cher (1975) as Henry Blake in a life boat shouting, "guys! I'm OK! I'm OK!"
Major Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan's parents must have had quite a bridal night as they exchanged at least three gifts. In season three, episode two, "Rainbow Bridge", Margaret gave Major Frank Burns the small silver gun her father gave to her mother, engraved: "To my little shot from her big shot. Your loving husband, Lt. Col. Alvin F. Houlahan, Regular Army"; in season two, episode seventeen, "For Want of a Boot", Margaret gave Frank, for his birthday, the calvary riding crop her mother gave to her father; in season three, episode nine, "Alcoholics Unanimous", Margaret showed Frank the silver flask her father gave to her mother, engraved: "To my Buttercup, from Alvin. The best things are worth waiting for. Bottoms up!"
Alan Alda was living in New Jersey when cast for the series, but didn't want to move to California full time, so as not to displace his wife and young daughters. Throughout the making of the series, Alda flew home to New Jersey and back every weekend, and on other breaks to be with his family.
Hawkeye hated guns, and never carried a sidearm when he was Officer of the Day, despite Army regulations. Colonel Potter insisted Hawkeye carry (then later fire) a pistol when they visited an aid station. Hawkeye reluctantly complied, shouting warnings and firing into the air.
Robert Alda, Alan Alda's father, had guest appearances in two episodes, season three, episode seventeen, "The Consultant" and season eight, episode twenty, "Lend a Hand." The latter also featured a guest appearance by Antony Alda, Alan Alda's brother. According to Alan Alda, "Lend a Hand" was his way of reconciling with his dad. He was always giving suggestions to Robert for their vaudeville act, and in "Lend a Hand", Robert's character was always giving Hawkeye suggestions. It was Robert's idea for the doctors to cooperate as "Dr. Right" and "Dr. Left" at the end of that episode, signifying both a reconciliation of their characters, and in real-life as well.
Early in production planning it was decided to show how brutal the climate could be in South Korea by having the show take place during a frigid cold snap occasionally. Since much of the filming was done in the summer, the actors and actresses had to wear coats and act cold, even when the temperature was over one hundred degrees Fahrenheit (thirty-eight degrees Celsius).
Robert Altman's son, Mike, wrote the lyrics for the MASH (1970) theme song "Suicide is Painless". He was only fifteen when he wrote the lyrics, and while his father only made seventy thousand dollars dollars for directing the movie, Mike made a million dollars from the royalties for this show, for co-writing the song. The lyrics were dropped from the television version, however, because they were deemed too controversial for television at the time.
The only time Trapper wore a red bath robe like Hawkeye's was in season one, episode one, "Pilot". After that, he only wore a yellow robe. Hawkeye wore a red robe, and B.J. wore blue, but more than one as they were different shades of blue. (Light and dark) Although his robe appeared red, as Hawkeye is making out his will, he bequeathed to Charles his bathrobe because, "Purple is the color of royalty".
In an interview in 2005, writer Larry Gelbart humorously admitted that they often forgot the names they had given to the wives of characters. This caused goofs such as calling someone's wife Laverne in one episode, and calling her Mildred in another.
Trapper John, M.D. (1979) was a successful spin-off of this show, which aired on CBS from 1979 to 1986. It was the only majorly successful spin-off, as After MASH (1983) was a minor success (airing two seasons), and W*A*L*T*E*R (1984) was an infamous disaster. 20th Century Fox and the producers of this show sued the producers of Trapper John, M.D. (1979) for royalties, since they claimed Trapper John, M.D. (1979) was a spin-off of their show. But the courts ruled that this show and Trapper John, M.D. (1979) were actually spin-offs of the novel, and therefore no royalties were due to 20th Century Fox.
William Christopher auditioned for the role of Father Mulcahy when 20th Century Fox was filming season one, episode one, "Pilot". He decided to improvize his dialogue, which turned the producers off, and he didn't get the role, the producers went with George Morgan. However the producers were not happy with Morgan's performance in "Pilot", so when the Father Mulcahy character re-emerged in season one, episode three, "Requiem for a Lightweight", they decided to give Christopher another try.
Klinger married his first wife, his childhood sweetheart Laverne Esposito, while he was serving in South Korea. The ceremony was performed over the shortwave radio and officiated by Father Mulcahy, who also performed Klinger's marriage ceremony to his South Korean war bride Soon Lee.
From the beginning, McLean Stevenson had several disputes with the producers over the conditions, in which the actors and actresses had to work. When the offer for a contract was made, McLean left the show, and his character of Lieutenant Colonel Henry Blake was killed off.
The baseball cap worn by Corporal Maxwell Q. Klinger (and on occasion, Colonel Sherman T. Potter), starting in the eighth season was supposed to be a Toledo Mud Hens cap, but it was actually a Texas Rangers cap, that the Rangers wore in the 1970s and early 1980s. The Texas Rangers became a team in 1972, after the Washington Senators moved to Dallas.
Soon-Tek Oh appeared five times on the show in different roles. In season four, episode seven, "The Bus", he played a North Korean soldier who gave himself up to Hawkeye and B.J. In season eight, episode ten, "The Yalu Brick Road", he again played a North Korean soldier who gave himself up to Hawkeye and B.J.
Stuart Margolin appeared as two different characters during the first and second seasons, both of whom try to get fresh with a resisting Major Houlihan. Oliver Clark and Tim O'Connor also played two different characters on the show, and even John Orchard ("Ugly John" from the first season) returned for a guest spot later, in another role.
The Government of South Korea would not give permission to the Armed Forces Korea Network to air this show on the television network broadcast by, and for, U.S. forces stationed there, because it took a lighthearted view of the war, and at times, accused their military of being incompetent.
Though many of the nurses' names were used interchangeably amongst several actresses, Father Mulcahy was the only regular character that was played by two different actors. George Morgan played the character in season one, episode one, "Pilot", but was replaced by William Christopher. There was a short-lived attempt to carry over the character's nickname (Dago Red) from the film. Hawkeye compliments Father Mulcahy's Christmas tree in season one, episode twelve, "Dear Dad", by commenting "it's looking good, Red" but the nickname was dropped thereafter.
In season one, episode one, "Pilot", after reading Ho John's acceptance letter, Hawkeye said he can "stay with my folks". In season two, episode twenty-three, "Mail Call", Hawkeye showed Trapper the sweater that his sister knitted for him, and in season one, episode eighteen, "Dear Dad...Again", he asked his father in a letter to "kiss mom and sis" for him. However, in season ten, episode twenty, "Sons and Bowlers", he told Charles how his mother died when he was a boy, and in season four, episode nineteen, "Hawkeye", he mentioned that he had no siblings.
Loudon Wainwright III appeared in three episodes in the third season (1974 to 1975), playing the character "Captain Calvin Spaulding". The name is taken from "Captain Jeffery T. Spaulding", a character played by Groucho Marx in Animal Crackers (1930).
Hawkeye's hometown was Crabapple Cove, Maine (the only hometown of the characters that was fictitious.) However, in season one, episode twelve, "Dear Dad", Hawkeye mentioned the family home in Vermont; in season four, episode five, "The Late Captain Pierce", Hawkeye told Klinger that Crabapple Cove is where his family summered; in season seven, episode twenty-six, "The Party", he said that his father hadn't left Crabapple Cove in years; in season five, episode fourteen, "Hawk's Nightmare", he said that his father was born in Crabapple Cove, and had never left.
"Rosie's Bar" was inspired by a real bar in Seoul, South Korea called "Rose's Bar". Located just outside Camp Mosier in Seoul, Rose's bar was located in an area which had a thriving night life catering primarily to U.S. military personnel. After the war, this section of Seoul turned into a residential area, but Rose's Bar continued to exist until 1971 when it was brought down to build small apartments. (Source: Armed Forces History Museum)
Radar was the only character we see leave the M*A*S*H 4077th and wander around in other locations, after they have been discharged. Everyone else, Frank, Trapper, and Henry got discharged and then vanished forever from the series once they left the camp.
This show became a huge hit in India after it was broadcast there in the 1990s, when cable television was introduced in India. It continued to be broadcast on weekday evenings at 6 p.m., for all of its seasons.
Although portrayed as being older, David Ogden Stiers (Major Charles Emerson Winchester III) was younger than Alan Alda (Captain Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce) and Mike Farrell (Captain B.J. Hunnicutt). Stiers was born in 1942, Alda in 1936, and Farrell in 1939.
Maxwell Q. Klinger frequently referred to a baseball team named the Toledo Mud Hens. This team exists in reality. Founded in 1896, it is the AAA minor league affiliate of the Detroit Tigers, and is part of the West Division of the International Baseball League.
Much has been written about the similarities between this show and Hogan's Heroes (1965). Both shows shared much of the same cast and crew, including Executive Producer Gene Reynolds and actor William Christopher.
One of Colonel Potter's guilty pleasures was watching Doris Day perform, on-stage or on-screen. He admits it's because he actually fell in love with her, though they've never met. He says he's seen all of her movies, but he would never take his wife, Mildred, to see one, because he didn't want her to know about his feelings for another woman. So he always goes to see them alone.
Major Winchester was stationed in Tokyo, Japan before he was transferred to the 4077th. His commanding officer, Colonel Baldwin, sent him for a forty-eight-hour stay (annoyed because he owed Winchester $672.17 for losses in cribbage), but Potter asked for Winchester to be permanently reassigned. When Baldwin visited the 4077th later, Winchester let Baldwin win his money back, hoping to go back with him to Tokyo.
After MASH (1983), the spin-off series to this show, lasted for two seasons. It did very well in the ratings the first season, ranking at number fifteen, and then it sunk to number ninety during the second season and CBS cancelled it. The critics hated it, and is now widely considered to be one of the worst television shows ever.
M*A*S*H 4077th was set in a location three miles from "Uijeongbu". Today, Uijeongbu is a bustling satellite town of Seoul, with a 2nd Infantry Division of the United States Army. It also has several restaurants catering to U.S. defense personnel. They serve a peculiar stew made originally for U.S. Army personnel from SPAM and hot dogs called, "Uijeongbu budae jjigae".
Hawkeye explains on multiple occasions how he got his nickname from his father's favorite book, "The Last of the Mohicans". Trapper John's nickname is never explained in the series. However, in MASH (1970), it's explained that he was caught with a woman in the ladies' room in a Boston Maine railway car. According to Hawkeye (Donald Sutherland), "the conductor opened the door, the girl looked out and yelled 'oh, he trapped me! Oh my god, he trapped me!'"
Gary Burghoff didn't appear in the majority of season six. There are several possible theories for why Radar became scarce, one of them being burnout, which is the reason Burghoff claimed when he eventually left the show. It has also been suggested that, despite Radar being innocent, shy, and overly polite to everyone, a fan favorite, Burghoff was demanding, rude, and generally had a terrible work relationship with most of the other cast members, leading to the producers giving him an extended vacation from the show in an attempt to either help him reset his relationship with the cast, or test the waters for writing him out of the show. He was back for most of season seven, and then filmed a two-part "goodbye" episode for the start of season eight. It was moved to mid-season, and so there are several episodes in season eight, filmed after his exit, but airing before, with Burghoff's name in the opening credits.
H.R. Hornberger, author (under the pseudonym Richard Hooker) of "M*A*S*H: A Novel About Three Army Doctors", so resented the portrayal of Hawkeye in the series, that in the 1977 sequel "M*A*S*H Mania", he wrote Hawkeye as liking to "go down to the state university and kick the shit out of a few liberals, just to keep his hand in."
Like several of the recurring characters, Major Sidney Freedman was originally introduced under a different name. In his first appearance, the character was named Milton Freedman. It is probable that the change was motivated by the rising public profile of economist Milton Friedman, who wrote the bestseller "Free to Choose", and won the Nobel Prize for economics in 1976.
John Fujioka, who played the Japanese Golf Pro in the movie, appeared three times in the series: season four, episode seventeen, "Dear Ma"; season ten, episode fifteen, "The Tooth Shall Set You Free"; and season ten, episode twenty-one, "Picture This".
Lieutenant Colonel Blake's daughter's names were Molly and Jane, and his son's name was Andrew. Molly was seen in a home movie, and Jane and Andrew spoke with Blake by telephone, in different episodes. Blake had a son who was born while he was in South Korea, but Blake was killed before ever getting to meet him. It's unclear if this son was Andrew, or a second boy, although is likely it was the latter, as the child wouldn't have been old enough to talk with him on the phone so quickly.
The M*A*S*H theme song came from a scene in MASH (1970), when Captain "Painless" Waldowski (John Schuck) contemplates suicide because he cannot perform sexually, and is convinced he is gay. The other doctors in the camp pretend to help him with this. They go through a big fake ritual in the swamp as one of the men plays "Suicide is Painless" on guitar. The scene is considered somewhat homophobic by post-1970 standards. The "Suicide is Painless" song proved to be so popular, Robert Altman used it as the theme song, and had his son, Mike, write the lyrics. The lyrics, however, were not used in the TV show.
Three actors were in both this show and MASH (1970). Gary Burghoff and G. Wood reprised their roles as Radar O'Reilly and General Hammond, respectively, and Timothy Brown, who played Private Judson in the film, took on the role of Captain Oliver Harmon "Spearchucker" Jones.
Contrary to popular thought, Jamie Farr (Klinger) did not serve in the Korean War, nor in South Korea. However, he did visit South Korea. In a 2013 interview with ABC News, he revealed that he had served in Japan after being drafted in 1957. He was part of the Armed forces radio. He subsequently went to South Korea to entertain troops right up to the Demilitarized Zone. William Christopher (Father Mulcahy) did serve in the U.S. Army in South Korea, after the war was over in 1953, but before the armistice treaty was signed.
Illinois-born David Ogden Stiers affected an upper-class Bostonian accent to play the stodgy Major Charles Emerson Winchester III. He's the only member of the main cast to use a fake accent or character voice for the duration of the series.
There was a cartoon parody of this show called "M*U*S*H", which aired on Saturday mornings on ABC during the 1975 to 1976 television season. It featured an all dog cast modelled off this show's heroes with names like Bullseye (Hawkeye), Cold Lips (Hot Lips) and Colonel Flake (Colonel Blake). M*U*S*H stood for Mangy Unwanted Shabby Heroes. Incidentally, the Mad Magazine parody of this show was also called "M*U*S*H".
The third doctor in "MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors" after Hawkeye and Trapper was Duke. Duke was prominently featured in MASH (1970), portrayed by Tom Skerritt, but the character never appeared on the series.
Of the main cast, in the opening credits, only two actors actually come from the same hometown as their character. Jamie Farr (Max Klinger), from Toledo, Ohio, and McLean Stevenson (Henry Blake), from Bloomington-Normal, Illinois.
Starting with season five, episode four, "Out of Sight, Out of Mind", Judy Farrell, Mike Farrell's (B.J. Hunnicutt's) then-wife appeared as Nurse Able (indeed, one of many nurses thusly credited) in eight episodes throughout the rest of the series. Her final appearance was in the series finale. The couple's daughter Erin Farrell was the inspiration for the name of B.J.'s infant daughter back home, making Farrell's family fully represented, one way or another, on the show.
Corporal Maxwell Q. Klinger was originally supposed to be gay; according to recent interviews and articles about the program. In his first appearance on the show; the character was implied to be a homosexual. Show producers changed this to a crazy-guy-pulling-a-stunt-to-get-discharged situation to avoid controversy over the character's sexuality.
McLean Stevenson, who played Lt. Colonel Henry Blake on the series, died of a heart attack on February 15, 1996. Roger Bowen, who played Blake in MASH (1970), died of a heart attack on February 16, 1996. Because of this coincidence, Bowen's family did not make the news of his death public until a week afterward so that his obituary would not be mistaken for a garbled version of Stevenson's.
The "My Blue Heaven" version that often plays in the loudspeakers at M*A*S*H 4077 is not in Korean, but rather the Japanese version of "My Blue Heaven" (the version by The Original Yellow Jackets). The Japanese version was arranged by George Whiting and Walter Donaldson.
M*A*S*H began as a book, "M*A*S*H: A Novel About Three Army Doctors", by Richard Hooker. There were then several sequel novels that were published with titles like, "M*A*S*H Goes to Maine" and "M*A*S*H Goes to London". 20th Century Fox purchased the rights to some of these sequels after MASH (1970) became a box-office hit, and attempted to put together a film sequel based on the books, but neither the film's cast members, nor Director Robert Altman wanted to have anything to do with this project. This eventually led to 20th Century Fox creating this show.
Gregory Harrison starred as Dr. Gonzo Gates on this show's spin-off Trapper John, M.D. (1979). Gates' maverick ladies' man character was clearly inspired by Hawkeye on this show. Harrison also appeared on an episode of this show as well.
Major Charles Emerson Winchester III, who addresses almost every other main character by their last names regardless of familiarity (i.e. Pierce, Hunnicut, O'Reilly, Colonel Potter, etc.) repeatedly addresses Cpl. Klinger, who everyone else usually calls by his last name only, as Max. (Recurring character Sgt. Zale gets this treatment as well at least once, being addressed by his first name, Zelmo, while tending bar at the Officers' Club - one of very few times his name is ever uttered). This use of given names by Winchester has more to do with a patronizing lack of respect for one's "inferiors" than with familiarity or benevolence (as Charles is likely the kind of man who would regard enlisted men as lower-class, like a housekeeper or doorman: beneath his elite level of breeding and not worthy of his respect). He also routinely calls Maj. Houlihan by her first name, Margaret, which likely is more about familiarity with a member of the opposite sex, as he shows an early respectful attraction to her - though in surgery he regularly alludes to his belief that he is superior to her as well, since he's a surgeon and she is "merely" a nurse.
Despite being a drafted enlisted man, and frequent references to being a young man (claims that he's a virgin, getting married via radio to his childhood sweetheart, etc), Jamie Farr (Klinger) is older than most of the other actors in the show; most of whom play doctors and nurses who imply that they're much older and more experienced in life than a "kid" like Klinger. Indeed, in the Season 6 episode "What's Up, Doc?" (1978), Col. Potter implies that Klinger is around 30, but Jamie Farr was actually close to 44 when the episode was filmed.