Daily Archives: September 17, 2012

Things I Think I Know About M*A*S*H

I saw on ABC News {Click for the story} that today is the 40th anniversary of the premiere of the television program M*A*S*H – one of the most popular shows of all time. Given all the hate and discontent in the world today (or at least according to the media) I figure something light hearted might be in order.

Keystone/Getty Images

The television show was based on the movie, which in turn was based on the book and that was based on the author’s experience in Korea. Here are some tidbits I’ve picked up over the years that I believe to be true but cannot authenticate. Well, maybe I could, but – you know.

The movie, which was release during the height of the anti-Viet Nam movement (1970) was very anti-war. The television show was a “kinder, gentler” version.

Gary Burghoff as Walter “Radar” O’Reilly played the part in both the move and the television program.

It took Richard Hornberger (who wrote under the pseudonym of “Richard Hooker”) 11 years to write the novel.

While trying to sell the book, Hornberger was told it needed a female character. He based the character of Margaret “Hot Lips” Hoolihan on a comment from a tent mate during the war. After returning from R & R, the other soldier mentioned that he had dated a woman with “Hot Lips” – and the entire character evolved from that comment.

Harry Morgan played two separate characters, first as a general (who was a few cards short of a full deck) and later as Colonel Potter. Apparently his first appearance went very well.

Hornberger wrote three M*A*S*H novels; the second ( M*A*S*H Goes to Maine) based on Hawkeye’s return to the civilian world and his successful attempt to reunite the Swampmen. M*A*S*H Mania portrayed them as establishment types dealing with a new set of young Turks. There were a number of other M*A*S*H goes to {Fill In The Blank} books, but they were ghostwritten.

Two of the television actors actually served in Korea, although it was after the war (even though it was never technically a war because it wasn’t declared; and even though it never technically ended – we’re still just under a cease fire.) Alan Alda (Hawkeye) and Jamie Farr (Corporal Klinger) served; the dog tags “Klinger” wore were Farr’s actual tags from his service.

Jamie Farr referred to his role as quite a “field promotion.” He was scheduled to play the part of Klinger for only a few episodes but became a regular.

Jamie Farr was from Toledo and played Klinger as also being from Toledo.  In one episode they focused on Ton Packo’s Hot Dogs, a Toledo landmark.  Packo’s shipped all the fixin’s to the studio and they had a Packo’s party.  For years the pictures of the cast eating at the party were prominently displayed at Packo’s (which is also known for its extensive collection of autographed hot dog buns.)

Now you’ve just wasted a few minutes on totally unimportant information but in the process been distracted from terrorism, murder, mayhem and politics.

I think Radar O’Reilly would have approved.