Show Type: Comedy/Drama
First Telecast: September 17, 1972
Last Telecast: September 19, 1983
Theme Song: "Suicide Is Painless" by Johnny Mandel
Captain Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce ..... Alan Alda
Captain John "Trapper John" McIntyre (1972-1975)..... Wayne Rogers
Major Margaret "Hot Lips"Houlihan..... Loretta Swit
Major Frank Burns (1972-1977)..... Larry Linville
Corporal Walter "Radar" O'Reilly (1972-1979)..... Gary Burghoff
Lieutenant Colonel Henry Blake (1972-1975)..... McLean Stevenson
Father John Mulcahy (Pilot Episode Only)..... George Morgan
Father Francis Mulcahy..... William Christopher
Corporal Maxwell Klinger (1973-1983)..... Jamie Farr
Colonel Sherman Potter (1975-1983)..... Harry Morgan
Captain B.J. Hunnicut (1975-1983)..... Mike Farrell
Major Charles Emerson Winchester (1977-1983)..... David Ogden Stiers
Dr. Sidney Freedman..... Alan Arbus
Lieutenant Maggie Dish (1972)..... Karen Philipp
Spearchucker Jones (1972)..... Timothy Brown
Ho-John (1972)..... Patrick Adiarte
Ugly John (1972-1973)..... John Orchard
Lieutenant Leslie Scorch (1972-1973)..... Linda Meiklejohn
General Brandon Clayton (1972-1973)..... Herb Voland
Lieutenant Ginger Ballis (1972-1974)..... Odessa Cleveland
Nurse Margie Cutler (1972-1973)..... Marcia Strassman
Nurse Louise Anderson (1973)..... Kelly Jean Peters
Lieutenant Nancy Griffin (1973)..... Lynette Mettey
Actress Played Multiple Nurses Over The Years (1973-1977)..... Bobbie Mitchell
General Mitchell (1973-1974)..... Robert F. Simon
Nurse Kellye (1974-1983)..... Kellye Nakahara
Actress Played Multiple Nurses Over The Years (1974-1978)..... Patricia Stevens
Actress Played Multiple Nurses Over The Years (1976-1983)..... Judy Farrell
Igor (1976-1983)..... Jeff Maxwell
Nurse Bigelow (1977-1979)..... Enid Kent
Sergeant Zale (1977-1979)..... Johnny Haymer
Actress Played Multiple Nurses Over The Years (1978-1983)..... Jan Jordan
Actress Played Multiple Nurses Over The Years (1979-1983)..... Gwen Farrell
Actress Played Multiple Nurses Over The Years (1979-1981)..... Connie Izay
Actress Played Multiple Nurses Over The Years (1979-1980)..... Jennifer Davis
Actress Played Multiple Nurses Over The Years (1980-1983)..... Shari Saba
Sergeant Luther Rizzo (1981-1983)..... G.W. Bailey
Roy (1981-1983)..... Roy Goldman
Soon-Lee (1983)..... Rosalind Chao
Actress Played Multiple Nurses Over The Years (1981-1983)..... Joann Thompson
Actress Played Multiple Nurses Over The Years (1982-1983)..... Deborah Harmon
In 1972, America was still involved in a was in Vietnam - a war that had captivated the country. The climate created by an unpopular war was the perfect setting for an anti-war comedy/drama like M*A*S*H. The setting was a little different than Vietnam - Korea in early 1950's, but the stories and situations could have easily been from Vietnam in the 70's.
M*A*S*H was based on the hit motion picture, which was in turn taken from the novel. The novel was written by a doctor who had actually been in one of the Korean Wars' M*A*S*H units, but who used a pseudonym - Richard Hooker - in writing so as not to compromise his medical standing by his war-time revelations.
The characters of M*A*S*H were all members of the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital stationed behind enemy lines during the Korean War. Their job was to treat the wounded being sent to them from the front lines and, of course, to save as many lives as possible. The environment was depressing and there was an overwhelming sense of futility and insanity of war that permeated their daily lives. Many of the doctors (who had been drafted) found it hard to believe they were living under the conditions to which they were being subjected.
Although most of the members of M*A*S*H had wives and families back home, that never stopped them from propositioning every good-looking nurse they could find. Two of the surgeons were Hawkeye Pierce and Trapper John McIntyre. Like everyone else, they were constantly breaking the rules and regulations. Hawkeye was probably the most intellectual of the doctors and was sometimes seen musing on the dehumanizing nature of war and questioning its moral validity.
Other cast members who were featured included: Frank Burns, who was perhaps the worst doctor in the unit and the constant butt of practical jokes laid on him by Hawkeye and Trapper John because of his arrogance; Hot Lips Houlihan, the head nurse who, despite her admonitions to her nurses about fooling around with doctors, had been having an affair with Frank Burns for an long period of time; Henry Blake, the commanding officer whose prime concern was the work of the doctors in the operating room and who couldn't care less about what they did on their free time and, Radar O'Reilly, who was the extremely shy and bumbling young aide to Colonel Blake. There were also numerous nurses who came and went, with the same actress being referred to in defferent episodes by different names. Dr. Sidney Freedman, an army psychiatrist, made several sporadic trips to the 4077th to check on the mental condition of the staff.
There were several cast changes over the years. The first major addition was that of Corporal Maxwell Klinger, an aide to the doctors. There was nothing wrong with him - it was just that he always dressed in women's clothing in a desperate, but futile, attempt to get himself discharged as mentally unfit. McLean Stevenson left the show in the spring of 1975 to sign a long-term contract with NBC. His character, Colonel Blake, was written out of the show in the last episode of the 1974-1975 season with the viewing audience being told that he was discharged and on his way home, only to have the plane in which he was flying go down in the Sea of Japan. He was replaced by Colonel Potter, who was somewhat more stern. In the summer of 1975, Wayne Rogers also left the show in a contract dispute. His character, Trapper John, was discharged and returned home at the beginning of the 1975-1976 season. B.J. Hunnicut replaced him as Hawkeye's tentmate and co-conspirator.
In 1977, Larry Linville left and so Major Burns was written out of the series. His character had seen his love affair with Hot Lips Houlihan come to an abrupt end when she married Lieutenant Colonel Donald Penobscott, who was not stationed with the 4077th and was hardly ever seen with his wife after the honeymoon. He immediately went AWOL and was permanently transferred. Replacing him was an aristocratic Bostonian, Major Charles Winchester. Hot Lips's marriage to L.C. Penobscott, ended with divorce during the 1978-1979 season. Gary Burghoff, the only memeber of the cast who had played the same role in the movie version of M*A*S*H, left in the fall of 1979. His character, clairvoyant company clerk, Radar, received his discharge and returned to the United States. Corporal Klinger took over as the new company clerk.
On February 28, 1983, the last episode of M*A*S*H aired as a 2 1/2 hour national event and was seen by the largest audience ever to watch a single television show. The finale brought a dramatic ending to the series regarded by many as one of the best in television history: The war finally ended, but not before the long years of pressure pushed Hawkeye over the edge and into a chillingly portrayed nervous breakdown. He recovered, but Major Winchester never would recover from his experience with a group of P.O.W. muscians who had brought a bit of cherished civility to the front - before they were suddenly and senselesssly killed. Klinger, on the eve of his long awaited departure from Korea, met and married a beautiful Korean woman named Soon-Lee. As the show neared its close, the men and women of the 4077th departed, one-by-one, for civillian life. Some of them - Colonel Potter, Klinger and Father Mulcahy - would meet again in a sequel the following year called Aftermash.
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