List of M*A*S*H characters
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This is a list of characters from the M*A*S*H franchise, covering the various fictional characters appearing in the novel MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors and its sequels, the 1970 film adaptation of the novel, and the television series M*A*S*H, AfterMASH, W*A*L*T*E*R, and Trapper John, M.D..
- 1 Overview
- 2 Main characters
- 3 Recurring characters
- 4 See also
- 5 References
|First appearance||MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors|
|Last appearance||"Goodbye, Farewell and Amen"|
|Portrayed by||Film: Donald Sutherland
Television: Alan Alda
|Hometown||Crabapple Cove, Maine (fictional)|
Captain Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce was played by Donald Sutherland in the film and by Alan Alda on television, where he was the only character to appear in all 251 episodes. Between long, intense sessions of treating critically wounded patients, he makes the best of his life in an isolated Army camp by making wisecracks, drinking heavily, carousing, womanizing, and pulling pranks on the people around him, especially the unpleasantly stiff and callous Frank Burns and "Hot Lips" Houlihan. Although initially just one of an ensemble of characters in author Richard Hooker's MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors, in the television series Hawkeye quickly became the center of the M*A*S*H unit's medical activity as well as the dramatic center of the series itself. In the series he is Chief Surgeon of the unit.
Pierce was born and raised in New England, most often mentioning Crabapple Cove, Maine, with a few references to Vermont. The character refers to having a sister but at other times identifies himself as an only child. His mother is deceased, and he is close to his father (in the novels lobsterman/fisherman "Big Benjy" Pierce, in the TV series Dr. Daniel Pierce). In the film Hawkeye is married with children, but in the TV series he is a bachelor and something of a ladies' man. He was given the nickname "Hawkeye" by his father, from the character in the novel The Last of the Mohicans, "the only book my old man ever read." His birth name is taken from a member of Hooker's own family named Franklin Pierce.
He attended Androscoggin College. In the book and the film, Hawkeye had played football in college; in the series, he is non-athletic. After completing his medical residency, he was drafted into the U.S. Army Medical Corps and sent to serve at the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) during the Korean War, an assignment he openly resents. Alda said of Pierce, "Some people think he was very liberal. But he was also a traditional conservative. I mean, he wanted nothing more than to have people leave him alone so he could enjoy his martini, you know? Government should get out of his liquor cabinet".
Pierce has little tolerance for military red tape and customs, feeling they get in the way of his doing his job, and has little respect for most Regular Army personnel. He never wears rank insignia on his fatigues, never polishes his combat boots, and on the rare occasions he wears his Class A uniform, does not wear any of the decorations to which he is entitled (which include the National Defense Service Medal, the Korean War Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal, a couple of Army commendation medals, and the Army Distinguished Unit Citation, four Purple Hearts, and the Combat Medical Badge). On occasions, he assumes temporary command of the 4077th due to the absence or disability of Colonel Blake or Colonel Potter. Although he acquits himself well, it is plain he is not comfortable with the responsibility that goes with being the commanding officer.
As a surgeon, he does not like the use of firearms. He refuses to carry a sidearm as required by regulations when serving as Officer of the Day. When ordered by Col. Potter to carry his issue pistol on a trip to an aid station, and they are ambushed on the road, he fires it into the air rather than at their attackers.
In the series finale, "Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen", Hawkeye experiences a mental breakdown when a Korean woman responds to his frantic demand that she quiet her infant child lest enemy soldiers hear it and discover them, by suffocating it. When the Korean Armistice is announced, he states his intention to return to Crabapple Cove, to be a local doctor who has the time to get to know his patients, instead of contending with the endless flow of casualties he faced during his time in Korea. In Hooker's two sequels, M*A*S*H Goes to Maine and M*A*S*H Mania, Hawkeye returns to live in Crabapple Cove.
Trapper John McIntyre
|First appearance||MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors|
|Last appearance||"Abyssinia, Henry" (M*A*S*H) "Elusive Butterfly" (Trapper John, M.D.)|
|Portrayed by||Film: Elliott Gould
Television: Wayne Rogers (for M*A*S*H)
Pernell Roberts (for Trapper John, M.D.)
Captain John Francis Xavier McIntyre appears in the novels, the film (played by Elliott Gould), the M*A*S*H TV series (Wayne Rogers), and the Trapper John, M.D. series (Pernell Roberts). He is one of the main characters in the M*A*S*H TV series during the first three seasons, and the central character of the latter series. His nickname comes from an incident in which he was caught having sex with a woman in the lavatory aboard a Boston & Maine Railway train; who claimed in her defense that "he trapped me!"
In the book and the film, Trapper John is a graduate of Dartmouth College (having played quarterback on the school's football team) and serves as thoracic surgeon of the 4077th. In the film, he has a dry, sardonic deadpan sense of humor, while in the M*A*S*H TV series he is more of a class clown. Trapper spends much of his time on the series engaging in mischief with Hawkeye Pierce, with the two playing practical jokes on majors Frank Burns and "Hot Lips" Houlihan, drinking, and trying to seduce women. While Trapper expresses great love for his wife and daughters, he also fraternizes with the nurses a great deal, with no pretense of fidelity.
In the film, Hawkeye and Trapper are given roughly equal focus, but in the TV series the character became more of a sidekick to the character of Hawkeye. This frustrated Rogers, and in combination with a dispute over the terms of the contract for the fourth season, he quit the show; the character of Trapper was abruptly transferred back to the U.S. between seasons. The character of B.J. Hunnicutt was created to replace him.
The character of Trapper John returned to television in 1979 in the medical drama series Trapper John, M.D. Now played by Pernell Roberts, the character is depicted in the then-present day as Chief of Surgery at a San Francisco hospital. This version of the character is in continuity with the film rather than the TV series, but no other characters from either production appear in this series, making Trapper John the only M*A*S*H character to be depicted on-screen in (what was then) the present day. Trapper John, along with The Mary Tyler Moore Show's Lou Grant, thus became one of a handful of 1970s television characters to be successfully adapted from situation comedy to drama.
|B. J. Hunnicutt|
|First appearance||"Welcome to Korea"|
|Last appearance||"Goodbye, Farewell and Amen"|
|Portrayed by||Television: Mike Farrell|
|Hometown||Mill Valley, California|
Captain B.J. Hunnicutt is played by Mike Farrell in the TV show. He replaces the departing character of Trapper John, both in his position within the unit and his role on the show as an ally of Hawkeye Pierce and a foil of Frank Burns, appearing in all but one episode of the rest of the series. Although he glibly answers that the initials "B.J." stand for "anything you want", he tells Hawkeye that the initials are derived from the names of his parents, Bea and Jay. However, we are left to wonder if he is being serious or just kidding in good nature.
Hunnicutt resided in Mill Valley, California before he was drafted. He was educated at Stanford University and was a member of the Tau Phi Epsilon fraternity. He is a third-generation doctor in his family. He went through his military training at Fort Sam Houston.
He is devoted to his wife Peg (née Hayden) who writes many letters to him while he is in Korea. The couple has a daughter Erin, who was born shortly before B.J. left for Korea. His status as faithful family man contrasts him with the philandering Trapper John, and he is also more reserved than his predecessor, often serving as the voice of reason when Hawkeye goes out on a limb. Nonetheless, he also participates in and initiates practical jokes, such as secretly switching Major Winchester's clothing for that of other soldiers to make him think he is growing or gaining/losing weight. On other occasions, B.J. encourages members of the 4077th to play jokes on each other, starting escalating joke wars for his own amusement, with neither side knowing that he was the instigator. Unfortunately, this has often backfired on him when both parties he was pranking would find out and retaliate.
While he assumed the same general disregard for military discipline exhibited by both Hawkeye and Trapper, B.J. professes stronger moral values. For example, in the episode "Preventative Medicine" he refuses to participate in a scheme to relieve an overzealous officer of command by performing an unnecessary appendectomy on him. He is a skilled surgeon willing to take extraordinary measures to save a patient, such as in "Heroes," where he undertakes an experimental procedure he had read about in a medical journal, using a primitive open-chest defibrillator and open-chest heart massage.
He actively avoids the finality of farewells, but when the 4077th is disbanded in the series finale, he is last seen riding his Indian motorcycle away from camp, while Hawkeye sees from a helicopter that B.J. has arranged painted white stones into the word "GOODBYE".
|First appearance||MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors|
|Last appearance||"Abyssinia, Henry"
|Portrayed by||Film: Roger Bowen
Television: McLean Stevenson
Lieutenant Colonel Henry Braymore Blake is introduced in the 1968 novel M*A*S*H and is also a character in the film (played by Roger Bowen) and television series (played by McLean Stevenson). He is a surgeon and the original commanding officer of the 4077th M*A*S*H unit. He is beloved for his down-to-earth, laid-back manner by many under his command, especially Hawkeye and Trapper John (with whom he drinks, flouts regulations, and chases women), and scorned for it by those who prefer strict military discipline, such as Frank Burns and Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan.
In the film, he is a career Army physician, having been commissioned prior to World War II. In the television series, he is a reservist called up to active duty and taken from his private practice in Bloomington, Illinois. Henry attended University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he was the football team athletic trainer. He tells Hawkeye he has "a great practice back home", but a "routine" one, and that by serving in Korea, he is doing more doctoring than he would otherwise do in a lifetime. While Henry was in command of the 4077th, his wife - called Mildred in earlier episodes, Lorraine in later ones (the reason is never explained) - had a son back in Bloomington. Henry would never meet his son.
Henry is a good man and a capable surgeon, but not a forceful commanding officer. Company clerk Radar can usually anticipate his wishes and turn them into efficient military orders, but Henry often gets flustered when an important decision needs to be made. In the "Rainbow Bridge" episode, he has to decide whether to send his doctors into enemy territory for an exchange of wounded prisoners, but hems and haws then tells his doctors, "Whatever you guys decide is fine with me." His strength as a commander is an ability to maintain the morale of his unit, which he does through heartfelt talk, and indulgence of the lunacy that is a hallmark of the 4077th. This success is demonstrated by the unit's 97% casualty survival rate.
When McLean Stevenson decided to leave the show at the end of the third season, his character was scripted to be discharged and sent home, as a bittersweet way to write him out of the series. However, the producers added a final scene to his last episode, in which it is reported that Blake's plane has been shot down, with no survivors. This scene was kept secret from most of the cast until just before filming so that they would respond more authentically to the tragic news.
Sherman T. Potter
|Sherman T. Potter|
|First appearance||"Welcome to Korea: Part 2"|
|Last appearance||"Saturday's Heroes" (AfterMASH)|
|Portrayed by||Harry Morgan|
Colonel Sherman Tecumseh Potter appears in the M*A*S*H and AfterMASH television series. He was portrayed by Harry Morgan, and replaced the departing character of Henry Blake as commander of the 4077th M*A*S*H. The character appeared in every subsequent episode with only three exceptions.
Potter is from Hannibal, Missouri, one-quarter Cherokee and possesses a passion and fondness for horses. He lied about his age to enlist at 15, joining the US Army horse cavalry as a private during World War I and subsequently rose to the rank of sergeant. During combat in World War I, in the Argonne Forest, he was "lost for three days, taken prisoner, head shaved and beaten to a pulp". At the Battle of Château-Thierry, he was mustard gassed, leaving him blind for a month in a French hospital. Another time, several of his teeth were then knocked out by his German captors, for which he was later awarded a Purple Heart. After the war, he went to medical school, and began his service as an Army doctor in 1932, serving in World War II. One of his most cherished possessions is his Good Conduct Medal, an award "only given to enlisted men", Potter explains to Radar whilst unpacking. It is framed and hangs behind his desk during his tenure at the 4077th.
Potter was created as a different type of commanding officer than his predecessor: a "Regular Army" commander who had made a career out of the service, and was close to retirement. But despite his stern military bearing, Potter is a relatively relaxed and laid-back commander, not above involving himself in camp hijinks and understanding the need for fun and games to boost morale during wartime. He also has his eccentricities, including a love of horses from his cavalry days and an ability to use his Regular Army connections to the unit's advantage. Unlike Blake, he is not afraid to put his foot down when the camp's antics get out of hand. In addition, Potter, who had been handling administrative work prior to his assignment to the 4077th, possesses formidable skills as a surgeon.
Potter is well-liked by his subordinates, especially Radar, who comes to see Potter as a mentor and father figure after Blake's transfer stateside and subsequent death. Potter receives more respect than Blake did from Major Houlihan, but Major Burns harbors a grudge against him after being passed over for command. In turn, Potter holds Burns' feigned military bearing and subpar medical skills in contempt. Potter takes pride in the competency of the rest of the medical staff despite their antics. Burns' replacement Major Winchester has a grudging respect for Potter, even though their respective personalities are often at odds with one another. Potter initially takes a hard line against Klinger's attempts to get discharged, but is convinced to let him continue cross-dressing, and eventually assigns him to be his new company clerk. As an indication of their respect for him, in the final episode Hawkeye and B.J. formally salute Potter as he leaves the camp, one of the few times either is shown doing so.
The character also appeared as a central character in AfterMASH, a spin-off starring the three cast members who had voted (unsuccessfully) to continue the first series. Potter became chief of staff and chief of surgery of the fictional General Pershing VA Hospital in River Bend, Missouri, where he is joined by Klinger and his wife Soon-Lee, and Father Mulcahy. Among the resident in-patients is one of Potter's subordinates from WWI, who addresses him as "Sarge" as opposed to his retired rank of colonel.
|Franklin Delano Marion Burns|
|First appearance||MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors|
|Last appearance||"Margaret's Marriage"|
|Portrayed by||Film: Robert Duvall
Television: Larry Linville
|Title||Captain in Hooker's novel
Major in TV series; w/ a departing promotion to Lieutenant Colonel
|Hometown||Fort Wayne, Indiana|
Major Franklin Delano Marion "Frank" Burns is the main antagonist in the film (played by Robert Duvall) and the first five seasons of the television series (Larry Linville). Burns first appeared in the original novel, where he had the rank of captain. (He is also known as "Ferret Face," a nickname first pinned on him by his brother.)
In the novel, Burns is a well-off doctor who attended medical school but whose training as a surgeon was limited to an apprenticeship with his father in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Nonetheless, he maintains a dismissive attitude toward his better-trained colleagues, blaming others for his own failures. He unjustly accuses a rookie orderly of killing one of his patients, and nearly kills another patient, earning him retaliatory assaults from Duke and Trapper John. His medical incompetence causes Col. Blake to instead assign Trapper John as Chief Surgeon. After the "Swampmen" learn that Burns is having an affair with Major Margaret Houlihan, Hawkeye taunts him about it, baiting him to attack just as Col. Blake enters the tent. The next day, Burns is permanently sent away for psychiatric evaluation in a straitjacket, shot full of tranquilizers.
In the film and in the subsequent TV series, Frank Burns' rank is that of Major. The film version includes elements of the novel's Major Jonathan Hobson, a very religious man who prays for all souls to be saved. In the TV series, he is very high-strung, with a penchant for uttering what are often bizarre or redundant cliches and malapropisms; one example was from "The Interview" (season 4, episode 24), in which Burns described marriage as "the headstone of American society".
In the TV series, Burns is a firm believer in military discipline and continues to fancy himself a superior surgeon, but his actions invariably reveal his incompetence and require one of the other surgeons to prevent him from making fatal mistakes. Though by military rank Burns is second-in-command of the unit, he is outranked in medical matters by Hawkeye, who reluctantly accepts appointment by Col. Blake as Chief Surgeon. Burns longs for command of the 4077th himself, and resorts to underhanded means to achieve this end, such as filing misleading complaints about Col. Blake and unsuccessfully preventing Hawkeye and Trapper from testifying in his defense. When Burns is left in command of the unit (per military regulations) he generally micromanages camp operations, just for the sake of being in command, but demonstrates a profound lack of military competence as well. In The Novocaine Mutiny Burns is left in temporary command when MASH 4077 is hit with a deluge of casualties. Burns and Hawkeye separately recount opposing versions of the events. Burns claims that he was performing superior work even going so far as to donate blood to a critically wounded soldier in between treating patients, and performing the Last Rites benediction in Latin for the deceased after Father Mulcahy passed out from exhaustion. Burns further asserts that the other surgeons couldn't keep up with him and complained that he was pushing them too hard. In Hawkeye's presumably far more accurate account, Burns is borderline hysterical, and performs his duties with signature incompetence which results in the near-death of multiple casualties. After being confronted by Hawkeye, Burns is knocked unconscious by the operating room door. In any early episode, however, before his character becomes more of a buffoon, he demonstrates himself to be an efficient though, again, micromanaging commander. In another episode, A Smattering of Intelligence, Burns is gullible enough to believe that the US Army Corps of Engineers is going to make MASH hospitals amphibious.
In addition to his gullibility, Burns has been shown to be incredibly greedy, selfish and occasionally childish; he is involved in a prescription kickback racket, falsifies his income taxes, and dabbles in the stock market. He is also overly suspicious of Koreans, going as far as to claim that South Koreans are communist infiltrators and hustlers, and is openly racist against Native Americans (although Colonel Potter, being part Cherokee, sternly puts a stop to that early on). He also is unwilling to divorce his wife because all his money, stocks and his house are in her name. In one episode, his greed was such that he once turned down a transfer to another unit because he thought he could find gold in the hills near the camp. He has also twice applied for a Purple Heart for being "wounded" in combat; first for slipping in the shower, second for getting an eggshell fragment in his eye. Both medals were given to people who earned them by Hawkeye, who stole them from Frank; one an underage Marine (played by Ron Howard) and the other a Korean mother and her infant son who had been shot just before she gave birth. An example of his childishness was when Burns was passed over for command of the 4077 and Colonel Potter chosen instead; Frank had a temper tantrum and ran away until he got cold, tired and hungry.
Burns' only friend in the unit is head nurse Major Houlihan, with whom he has an ongoing sexual affair that they believe is discreet, but which is common knowledge in the camp. They share a disdain for the "un-military" doctors, whom they conspire against ineffectively. His wife eventually hears of the affair and threatens him with divorce; he denies it, describing Houlihan as an "old war horse" and an "army mule with bosoms", beginning a rift that leads to her engagement to Donald Penobscott, a handsome lieutenant colonel stationed in Tokyo. Burns goes borderline crazy trying to get Houlihan back — he drinks up all of Hawkeye's booze; he cleans out Hawkeye and BJ's poker winnings of $200.00; he confesses that he wants to have affairs with two other nurses besides Houlihan: Nurse Kelly and a "Little red haired Nurse"; he nearly blows himself up with a grenade; he "captures" a Korean family with an ox and almost shoots his carbine off in Potter's office at the suggestion that he is heading for a Section Eight discharge. Following Houlihan's marriage, Burns suffers a mental breakdown and accosts a female WAC; a female Red Cross worker, and an army general and his wife in Seoul, mistaking them for the Penobscotts. He is sent stateside for psychiatric evaluation, but in a bitter irony he is cleared of charges, promoted to lieutenant colonel and stationed at a veteran's hospital in his hometown. (The departure of Burns from the series stemmed from Linville's frustration with the character, which he felt offered no further opportunity for him to develop.)
|Margaret Houlihan RN|
|First appearance||MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors|
|Last appearance||"Goodbye, Farewell and Amen"|
|Portrayed by||Film: Sally Kellerman
Television: Loretta Swit
|Hometown||Fort Ord, California|
Major Margaret J "Hot Lips" Houlihan appears in the novel, the film (played by Sally Kellerman), and the TV series (Loretta Swit). She is the regular-army head nurse of the 4077th, and begins allied with Major Frank Burns against the more civilian doctors of the unit. Later in the series, particularly after the departure of Burns, she becomes a more sympathetic character, softening her attitude while still serving as a foil for their antics.
Margaret is an army brat, born in an Army base hospital, the daughter of career artillery officer "Howitzer Al" Houlihan. She entered nursing school in 1938 and graduated in 1942 when she joined the Army. She served in World War II but it is unknown if she served stateside or overseas. She is the head nurse of the 4077th M*A*S*H, the highest-ranking female officer in the unit, and fiercely protective of the women under her command. The character was inspired by two real-life Korean War MASH head nurses: "Hotlips" Hammerly, an attractive blonde of similar disposition, and Janie Hall.
Her nickname "Hot Lips" has different origins in the original novel, film, and TV show. In the novel, the phrase is first used by Trapper John McIntyre, when he is flirting with Margaret after learning about her affair with Frank Burns. Calling her "Hot Lips", Trapper suggests that they should get together since he has become Chief Surgeon and she is the Chief Nurse. In the film, the nickname originates from a scene in which she has a tryst with Burns. Unbeknownst to them, a hidden PA microphone is broadcasting their conversation to the whole camp, including her growl to Frank, "kiss my hot lips". In the TV show, the origin of her nickname is never shown or explained in detail, though it seems to refer to various aspects of her passionate nature. Midway through the series, the "Hot Lips" nickname phases out, with characters addressing her as either Margaret or Major Houlihan, though her nickname is still referenced occasionally. For instance, in the sixth-season episode "Patent 4077", when Margaret is in a bad mood after losing her wedding ring, a nurse describes her as "Hot Lips Houlihan: Blonde land mine". In the seventh-season episode "None Like It Hot", after Margaret talks about a bathtub that is supposed to be kept secret, Hawkeye says to her, "Would you please keep your hot lips sealed?", and in the second part of the two-part eighth-season episode "Good Bye, Radar", Radar says, "Wow! Hot Lips!" after he is kissed by Margaret.
Early on in the TV series, she is a stern "by-the-book" head nurse, but willingly goes against regulations for her own gain. She uses her sex appeal to her professional advantage as well as personal satisfaction, as shown by her relationship with Frank Burns. In early seasons she had several liaisons with visiting colonels or generals who were "old friends". She is an experienced surgical nurse, so although she thoroughly disapproves of the surgeons' off-duty tomfoolery, she is able to set her personal feelings aside to appreciate their skills, such as when she came down with appendicitis and asked that Hawkeye, not Burns, perform the surgery if needed.
In later years she becomes a more relaxed and less criticizing member of the unit, tempering her authority with humanity. Key episodes in this development include the season 5 episode "The Nurses", in which she plays the role of a stern disciplinarian, but breaks down in front of her nurses revealing how hurt she is by their disdain for her; and "Comrades In Arms" (season 6), in which Hawkeye and Margaret make peace as they endure an artillery barrage together while lost in the wilderness. She has a heavy drinking problem, which appears to run in her family. She once told Frank that half of her salary went to support her mother; half of that money went towards drying her out, the other half for bail money (her mother was a kleptomaniac). Although the series presumes that she is an only child, in one episode she remarks she has a younger sister who was engaged to be married, although she was only a captain.
Her long-standing affair with Frank ends with her engagement and subsequent marriage to Lieutenant Colonel Donald Penobscott. The marriage does not last long; she later finds out a visiting nurse had had an affair with him. Though he promises to work things out with her, he has himself permanently transferred to San Francisco, and she divorces him, regaining her self-confidence. In the wake of her split with Burns, she becomes more comfortable with at least some of the unit's more unorthodox ways and as time progresses, becomes a willing participant in some of the hijinks. Despite their long-running mutual antagonism, Hawkeye and Margaret come to develop respect and affection for each other, reflected in a long passionate farewell kiss in the final episode. She returns to the US to take a position in an Army hospital.
In the series of novels co-written with (or ghost-written by) William E. Butterworth, Houlihan reappears as the twice-widowed Margaret Houlihan Wachauf Wilson, both husbands having expired on the nuptial bed through excessive indulgence in her still-outstanding physical charms. Her career has taken a new direction as the reverend head of the "God Is Love In All Forms Christian Church, Incorporated", a cult or sect with the unusual distinction that its entire congregation consists of gay men. Most of these are extremely flamboyant and the Reverend Mother herself is conspicuously glitzy and glittery. However, it appears that Margaret genuinely cares for her flock and is not merely shaking them down in pursuit of material gain.
|Charles Emerson Winchester III|
|First appearance||"Fade In Fade Out"|
|Last appearance||"Goodbye, Farewell and Amen"|
|Portrayed by||Television: David Ogden Stiers|
Major Charles Emerson Winchester III is a supporting protagonist in the television series, played by David Ogden Stiers. He was introduced in the show's sixth season as a replacement for Frank Burns, both in the unit's surgical team and as a foil for Hawkeye and B.J. Though Winchester did embody some antagonistic qualities similar to that of Burns, he proved over the course of his time on the series to be a very different character than his predecessor, being far more intelligent, humane, and kind.
Charles Winchester was born in his grandmother's house in the Boston, Massachusetts, neighborhood of Beacon Hill, and is part of a very wealthy family of Republican Boston Brahmins. After finishing his secondary studies at Choate, he graduated summa cum laude class of '43 from Harvard College (where he lettered in Crew and Polo), completed his M.D. at Harvard Medical in Boston in 1948, and worked at Massachusetts General Hospital. Before he was drafted to join the US Army during the Korean War, he was on track to become Chief of Cardio/Thoracic Surgery.
Winchester's commanding officer transferred him to the 4077th in retaliation for the major's gloating attitude about beating him at cribbage to tune of a $672.17 debt (equivalent to about $6,100 in 2016). Assigned to quarters in "the swamp" with Hawkeye and B.J., Winchester found the conditions there appalling, calling the camp "an inflamed boil on the buttocks of the world". Keeping with the show's tradition of replacement characters who are in some way the antithesis of their predecessors, Winchester is as skilled a surgeon as Burns was inept, and he is as cultured as Burns was low-brow. Indeed, in one episode during a verbal joust with Pierce and Hunnicutt, Winchester is able to match them true story for true story due to his cultured upbringing and skill, culminating in him revealing he even once dated Audrey Hepburn to the astonishment and chagrin of B.J. and Hawkeye. However, Winchester still has to adjust to the realities of field medicine. Although the character was originally intended to develop a romance with Houlihan, the chemistry between the two was not there, so Charles and Margaret maintain a platonic, professional friendship.
Winchester is often adversarial with Hawkeye and B.J., but joins forces with them if it is justified. He has a keen but dry sense of humor, and enjoys practical jokes as well as the occasional prank to get revenge on his bunkmates for something they did or for his own amusement. Behind his snobbery, he was raised with a sense of noblesse oblige and was capable of profound – albeit sometimes misguided – acts of kindness. For example, in "Death Takes a Holiday" he anonymously gifts an orphanage with expensive chocolates and is initially outraged to find that they have been sold on the black market, then chagrined to learn that the chocolate bars were sold to buy staple goods, reflecting that "It is I who should be sorry. It is sadly inappropriate to give dessert to a child who has had no meal." In "Morale Victory" he sends for a copy of the score for Ravel's Piano Concerto for the Left Hand to give encouragement to a pianist who can no longer play with his injured right hand. In another episode, he stands up for a wounded soldier whose comrades and commanding officer mock his stuttering, encouraging the young man to live up to his intellectual potential. At the end of the episode, he listens to a recorded letter from his sister Honoria, who turns out to likewise be a stutterer. Classical music is one of his great loves, helping him to maintain his morale. In the series finale, following the sudden death of the Chinese POWs he has been teaching a work by Mozart, Winchester states that music has transformed into a haunting reminder of the horrors of the war. After the war, he returns to Boston where the position of Chief of Thoracic Surgery at a prestigious hospital awaits him.
|First appearance||MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors|
|Portrayed by||Gary Burghoff|
Corporal Walter Eugene O’Reilly, best known as Radar O'Reilly, appears in the novels, film, and TV series. He also appeared in two episodes of AfterMASH, and starred in the television pilot W*A*L*T*E*R. The character was portrayed by Gary Burghoff in both the film and on television, the only regular character played by a single actor. His full name is never given in the original novel or film, but on the TV series it is Walter Eugene O'Reilly. The later novels by Richard Hooker and William Butterworth give his full name as J. Robespierre O'Reilly.
Radar is from Ottumwa, Iowa, and joined the army right out of high school. He seems to have extra-sensory perception, appearing at his commander's side before being called and finishing his sentences. He also has exceptionally good hearing, able to hear helicopters before anyone else, and to tell from the rotor sounds if they are coming in loaded or not. It was these abilities that earned him the nickname "Radar". The character is inspired by company clerk Don Shaffer, who also was born in Ottumwa and nicknamed "Radar" by his compatriots, and who served alongside Hornberger in Korea.
In the film, Radar was portrayed as worldly and sneaky, a characterization that carried into the early part of the series. He carries with him a pocketful of passes for any potential scam that might arise, and has a racket of selling tickets for spying through a peephole into the nurses' shower. Another time, he cons nearly every member of MASH 4077 into buying mail order shoes. He is known for his tremendous appetite for heaping portions of food, is not averse to drinking Henry Blake's brandy and smoking his cigars when the colonel is off-duty, and he occasionally drinks the moonshine liquor that Hawkeye and Trapper make in their still.
Soon after the pilot episode, Burghoff noted that the other characters were changing from the film portrayals and decided to follow. He and Gelbart evolved Radar into a naïve farm boy, who still sleeps with his teddy bear and whose favorite beverage is Nehi brand grape soda. He has a virginal awkwardness with women, and a fondness for superhero comic books. He runs the camp public address system and radio station, which are often used in minor gags; in one episode he transmits messages to a Navy carrier by Morse code. He frequently looks to the doctors for advice, and increasingly regards Henry Blake and then Sherman Potter as father figures. Radar is also one of the very few people Hawkeye Pierce has ever saluted (an event that occurred after Radar was wounded during a trip to Seoul and was given a Purple Heart), showing just how much Pierce respects him. Radar is promoted to Second Lieutenant as the result of a poker game debt ("Lt. Radar O'Reilly"), but soon returns to Corporal after discovering that life as a commissioned officer is more complicated than he had originally thought.
Burghoff appeared in every episode of the show's first three seasons. After season three, doing the series had become a strain on the actor's family life, and he had his contract changed to limit his appearances to 13 episodes per season out of the usual 24. By season seven, Burghoff started experiencing burnout and decided it was time to quit; he finished season seven, then returned the next season for a two-part farewell episode titled "Good-Bye Radar" in which Radar was granted a hardship discharge after the death of his Uncle Ed to help on the family farm, which he accepted after being satisfied that Klinger could replace him.
Several years later, Burghoff starred in W*A*L*T*E*R, a television movie that was to serve as the pilot for a spin-off series. In that movie and proposed series, the O'Reilly family farm had failed and Radar had moved to St. Louis and become a police officer. Production never proceeded past the pilot, which aired once on CBS.
|First appearance||MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors|
|Last appearance||"Saturday's Heroes" (AfterMASH)|
|Portrayed by||Film: René Auberjonois
Television: William Christopher (George Morgan for the pilot)
1st Lieutenant (later Captain) Francis John Patrick Mulcahy, S.J. – the order of his given names was not presented consistently in the series – appears in the film (played by René Auberjonois), and the television series (William Christopher). He is a Roman Catholic priest, and serves as a US Army chaplain assigned to the 4077th. He was played by George Morgan in the pilot episode of the series, but the producers decided that a quirkier individual was needed for the role.
In the novel and film, Mulcahy is familiarly known by the nickname "Dago Red", a derogatory reference to his Italian-Irish ancestry and the sacramental wine used in Roman Catholic Communion. While most of the staff is not religious, they treat Mulcahy with some respect. It is Mulcahy who alerts the doctors that the camp dentist "Painless" is severely depressed. Afterwards, Mulcahy reluctantly helps the doctors to stage the famous "Last Supper" faux suicide, to convince Painless that he should continue with life. He is bewildered by the doctors' amoral pranks and womanizing behavior. When Radar places a hidden microphone inside Hot Lips' tent as she and Frank Burns have sex, members of the camp listen in, and Mulcahy at first mistakes their conversation (and noises) for an episode of The Bickersons, leaving abruptly when he realizes otherwise.
He is from Philadelphia and is frequently seen wearing a Loyola sweatshirt. He has a sibling Kathy, who is a Catholic nun: he impishly refers to her as "my sister the Sister". His sister's religious name is Theresa. He's an amateur boxer and boxing fan; an old priest and mentor in Jesuit school taught his students that boxing built character. There is a running joke that Mulcahy always wins the betting pools. On one occasion, when asked how he knows what bet to place, he looks to the sky with a smile. His luck at poker is unremarkable, however. He donates his winnings to the local orphanage.
Mulcahy understands that many of his "flock" are non-religious or have other faiths, and doesn't evangelize them overtly. Rather than lecturing from authority, he seeks to teach by example ("Blood Brothers"), or by helping someone see the error of their ways ("Identity Crisis"). Although his quiet faith in God is unshakable, Mulcahy is often troubled over whether his role as chaplain and religious leader has importance compared to the doctors' obvious talent for saving lives. This leads him to periodically prove himself, such as volunteering for a dangerous mission to demonstrate his courage to a soldier who had shot himself in the foot to get out of combat duty ("Mulcahy's War"), and putting himself in harm's way to retrieve or negotiate for medical supplies ("Tea and Empathy", "Out of Gas"). He is repeatedly passed over for a promotion, but eventually rises to the rank of Captain after Colonel Potter intercedes on his behalf ("Captains Outrageous").
In the series finale he is almost killed and rendered nearly deaf when he releases POWs from a holding pen that is in danger from an artillery barrage. He tells his friends that he intends to work with the deaf following the war, but only B.J. knows why, and helps him conceal this handicap from them.
Father Mulcahy was one of three regular M*A*S*H characters to star in the spin-off AfterMASH, with William Christopher joining Harry Morgan and Jamie Farr. The show was set at the fictional General Pershing VA Hospital in Missouri, where he served as chaplain. An experimental procedure was said to have restored most of his hearing.
|First appearance||"Chief Surgeon Who?"|
|Last appearance||"Saturday's Heroes" (AfterMASH)|
|Portrayed by||Jamie Farr|
Corporal (later Sergeant) Maxwell Q. Klinger appears in the television series M*A*S*H and the spin-off AfterMASH, played by actor Jamie Farr. He serves as an orderly/corpsman/sentry (and later company clerk) assigned to the 4077th. Klinger was the first main character introduced on M*A*S*H not to have appeared in either the original novel or the subsequent film. Despite the writers giving him an Ashkenazi-sounding name, Klinger is an Arab-American of Lebanese descent from Toledo, Ohio (like Farr himself). As for Klinger's religion, in an early show, Klinger said he gave up being an atheist for Lent, but did not specify a denomination. In real life, Jamie Farr is a devout Antiochian (Greek) Orthodox. In other episodes, Klinger is pleading with Allah to help him out of a jam; Allah is the Arabic word for God used by both Arab Muslims and Antiochian Orthodox.
The character's original defining characteristic was his continual attempts to gain a Section 8 psychiatric discharge from the Army, by habitually wearing women's clothing and engaging in other "crazy" stunts. His first appearance was in the fourth episode, "Chief Surgeon Who?"; in that episode's original script, Klinger was an effeminate gay man, but the writers later agreed that it would be more interesting to have Klinger be heterosexual, but wear dresses in an attempt to gain a Section 8 discharge. He makes it a point to play up his antics to visiting high-ranking officers in an attempt to gain their sympathy and convince them that he is unfit to serve. When Colonel Potter takes command, Klinger immediately tries the same with him, but Potter sees through the scam immediately. Series writer Larry Gelbart stated during the M*A*S*H 30th Anniversary Reunion special that Klinger's antics were inspired by stories of Lenny Bruce attempting to dodge his own military service by dressing himself as a U.S. Navy WAVE.
Klinger eventually gives up his attempts at a Section 8 when he is picked by Colonel Potter to become the company clerk following Radar's discharge. He is later promoted to Sergeant ("Promotion Commotion") and begins to take his duties even more seriously; the writers had decided to "tap into his street skills" to flesh out his character. In the eighth-season episode "Dear Uncle Abdul", Klinger writes to his uncle – who successfully used cross-dressing to stay out of the army – about the crazy goings-on in camp, ending with the reflection "It's no wonder I never got a Section Eight-- there's nothing special about me; everybody here is crazy!" Klinger is a fan of the Toledo Mud Hens, an actual minor league baseball team, and occasionally voices his high opinion of the hot dogs at Tony Packo's, an actual Toledo restaurant.
In the third-season episode "Springtime", Klinger marries his girlfriend, Laverne Esposito, via radio. In season six he receives a Dear John letter from Laverne saying she has found another man, whom she later breaks up with, then becoming engaged to Klinger's supposed best friend. In the final episodes of the series, Klinger gets engaged to Soon Lee Han (Rosalind Chao), a Korean refugee. She refuses to leave Korea until she finds her family, leading to the irony that although the end of the war means Klinger is free to return to the U.S., he chooses to stay with her.
In AfterMASH, it is revealed that Max and Soon Lee found her family and helped them reestablish themselves as farmers, then moved together to the U.S. to settle down. However, she faced racial discrimination and he turned to bookmaking, and is only able to escape prison time when Sherman Potter offers a character reference and hires him as his assistant at the veteran's hospital in Missouri where he now works.
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1st Lt. Kealani Kellye was portrayed by Kellye Nakahara. She appeared in 86 episodes of the series, more episodes than some main characters, such as Henry Blake and Trapper John. The character grew steadily from a background (often non-speaking) character in the first season, culminating in the season 11 episode "Hey, Look Me Over" which was primarily about the character. In her first appearances, her name changed several times before it finally settled on "Nurse Kellye"; for example, she was referred to as "Nurse Able" in her first appearance in "A Full Rich Day". The first name "Kealani" was never spoken on screen, but according to interviews with the actress, that was the first name used on set when referring to the character. On several occasions, though, she is called "Lt. Nakahara," notably in the season 10 episode "The Birthday Girls," and in the last regular episode of season 11, the final episode filmed, "As Time Goes By," Major Houlihan refers to Kellye as "Lt. Nakahara".
Originally from Honolulu, she described herself as "part Chinese, part Hawaiian" in Episode 8/11 "Life Time" and speaks Japanese, as revealed in "Communication Breakdown". She had great pride in her Asian American heritage and frequently took umbrage at racial slurs leveled by Frank Burns. Her family lives in Honolulu according to her statements in the final episode.
Nakahara joined Morgan, Christopher and Farr on AfterMASH, albeit off-camera, as the recurring voice of the public address system at the V.A. hospital.
Private Igor Straminsky was generally portrayed by actor Jeff Maxwell, although Peter Riegert played him in two sixth-season episodes. He debuted in the second season and appeared on and off up until the series finale. He has appeared in more episodes than any recurring character except Nurse Kellye.
Igor's role was often to serve food out in the mess and therefore also to serve as the foil for a lot of the complaints about the state of the food. He is also sometimes tasked with duties with Radar, as seen in the episode "Mulcahy's War". As a comic relief buffoon he takes the part of Frank Burns as the village idiot.
In "Promotion Commotion", Igor relentlessly tries to impress Hawkeye and B.J., so he can be promoted to Corporal. He once mentioned to Father Mulcahy that he sets aside three dollars from each salary payment for the local orphanage.
In "The Price of Tomato Juice," Igor identifies himself as "Maxwell," (a goof on the part of actor Jeff Maxwell) and Major Frank Burns also refers to him as "Maxwell" in the following line of dialogue.
Igor became a fan favorite with both the fan base and the network. In later seasons, his roles were expanding, making him more of a recurring cast member.
Staff Sergeant Luther Wilson Rizzo was played by G. W. Bailey. In the show, he was the sergeant in charge of the motor pool. While originally written to be from New York City, when the producers heard Bailey's southern accent in his first dailies his character was moved to Louisiana. He was known for his slow, deep, Louisiana drawl (Bailey himself is in fact Texan) and his slightly disheveled look. Though the motor pool seemed to function well, it did so despite Rizzo's casual work style and frequent naps. His philosophy on success in the army was that it was possible to never do work, so long as your superiors don't see you enjoy yourself: "Where else [but the Army] can you be a bum and get paid for it?"
In the Season 10 episode "Promotion Commotion", Rizzo was one of three 4077th enlisted who appeared before a promotion board consisting of Hawkeye, B.J., and Winchester. He was not promoted, but made it clear that he was American "with an American wife and American son (Billy Bubba)." In Episode 10/21 his first name is given as "Wilson".
Rizzo enjoys shooting craps, and seems to win more than he loses. He also is the camp loan shark, getting Charles on his hook at one point to the extent he had to have money sent from home to clear his debt with the cigar-chewing sergeant.
Sergeant Rizzo is known to carry a grudge. On one occasion, he borrowed a deactivated hand grenade from Igor and used it to scare B.J. out of the shower after B.J. had given him a hard time. He had harsh words with Winchester when the latter, acting as motor pool officer, required him to completely disassemble a jeep's engine and lay it out on white sheets, for no good reason that Rizzo could see. There was little doubt of the malicious delight he took in "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen" while driving Winchester out of the deactivated camp in a garbage truck to start his trip home.
In the series finale, at the 4077th's final dinner Rizzo claimed that he would be going home to work on a new moneymaking venture: breeding frogs to sell to French restaurants. This is a minor error; Rizzo had re-enlisted in the Army in a previous episode.
Major Sidney Theodore Freedman, played by Allan Arbus, is a psychiatrist frequently summoned in cases of mental health problems. His name is a play on that of psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud. When Radar was written out of the series, the writers considered adding Sidney Freedman as a regular character. However, Allan Arbus didn't want to commit to be anything other than a guest star, so the character remained an occasionally recurring character. In the M*A*S*H 30th Anniversary Special that aired on Fox in 2002, Arbus was the only non-regular cast member to be featured on the special.
Freedman's first appearance was in the episode "Radar's Report". He visited the camp to do a psychiatric evaluation of Klinger, who was aiming for a Section 8 discharge (as always). After Freedman had finished the report, he quietly took Klinger in for an interview and told him that while he is obviously not mentally ill, Freedman was willing to declare him a transvestite and a homosexual. This label would not leave him, though; as Sidney put it: "From now on, you go through life on high heels." Klinger vociferously denied, "I ain't any of those things! I'm just crazy!" Klinger's discharge was uniformly dropped, and Freedman left the camp. In this first appearance in the series, Dr. Freedman's first name was Milton instead of Sidney.
Freedman appears in 12 M*A*S*H episodes: "Radar's Report" (as Milton Freedman), "Deal Me Out", "O.R.", "Quo Vadis, Captain Chandler?", "Dear Sigmund", "Hawk's Nightmare", "War of Nerves" (in which he qualified for a Purple Heart by being wounded while performing therapy follow-up on one of his patients), "The Billfold Syndrome", "Goodbye, Cruel World", "Bless You, Hawkeye", "Pressure Points", and the series finale, "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen". He is also mentioned, but does not appear onscreen, in the episodes "Mad Dogs and Servicemen," "Heal Thyself", "A Holy Mess", and "Trick or Treatment".
In the episode "O.R.", Freedman told those gathered in the operating room, "Ladies and gentlemen, take my advice: Pull down your pants and slide on the ice." He repeated that advice in the series finale, following his treatment of Hawkeye, who had finally cracked under the strain of the war. Freedman led Hawkeye to stop suppressing the memory of seeing a Korean mother smothering her crying baby in an effort to keep it silent, so that a nearby Chinese patrol would not find and kill or capture their group. (In Hawkeye's suppression, he had 'remembered' that the mother had killed a 'chicken', until Freedman brought the true memory into the light.) He convinced a reluctant Hawkeye that the best thing for him now was to return to duty for the last days of the war.
After leaving Korea and the Army, Dr. Freedman accepts a post at the University of Chicago. The AfterMASH episode "Madness to His Method" has as its frame Colonel Potter writing a letter in Missouri about the episode's situation to an unseen Freedman.
Colonel (Sam) Flagg
Lieutenant Colonel (later Colonel) Sam Flagg is played by Edward Winter. Col. Flagg is an American intelligence agent. His behavior is paranoid and irrational and he appears to the staff of the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital to be mentally unstable; the fact that he seriously injures himself deliberately to advance an investigation seems proof of that (these included jumping out of Sherman Potter's office window, and re-breaking his arm with the camp's X-ray machine). At one point, he tries to get into Counter Intelligence Corps headquarters by crashing his jeep into a brick wall and setting himself on fire. (When told this, Hawkeye responds, "Is this guy available for kids' parties?") In that episode, to get into the 4077th, he orders a helicopter pilot to crash and then twice breaks his own arm. He alternately claims to be affiliated with the CIA, the CIC, or the CID (it is worth noting that the latter was formed only in 1971, while the M*A*S*H series is set at the time of the Korean War, which dates 1950–1953), and occasionally all at once, depending on to whom he is speaking. Example: "I'm with the CIA, but I tell people I'm with the CIC, so they think I'm with the CID." In the episode "The Abduction of Margaret Houlihan", Flagg has also stated that he also once posed as a showgirl at a nightclub called the Sands in Las Vegas for six weeks as part of an assignment. Hawkeye also claims to have seen him in this disguise during that time, saying that Flagg was the only showgirl at the Sands carrying a machine gun. Other aliases include Major Brooks, Lieutenant Carter, Ensign Troy, and Captain Louise Klein. Majors Frank Burns and Margaret Houlihan, both vicious McCarthy-style anti-Communists, follow his assignments with great interest, but are unable to "buddy up" to him as they hope. As Flagg says, "Nobody can get the truth out of me because even I don't know what it is. I keep myself in a constant state of utter confusion."
Flagg investigates a penicillin heist in the episode "White Gold". During his investigation, he reveals his notes on the camp's personnel to Lt. Colonel Henry Blake. The red marks next to Trapper's and Hawkeye's names means they are considered to be "unfriendlies" while a yellow mark next to Blake's name means, "work on it." Flagg later attempts to steal the 4077's penicillin for himself in order to trade it on the black market for information. He is thwarted by Hawkeye and Trapper who drug him and perform an unnecessary appendectomy in order to keep Flagg bedridden long enough to steal back and safeguard their penicillin.
Attitude towards Flagg differed among the members of the 4077th. Hawkeye, Trapper, and B.J. refused to be intimidated by him, frequently deriding him to his face. Burns, Radar and Father Mulcahy were somewhat afraid of him, and Henry Blake often allowed himself to be manipulated by his bullying. Flagg would meet his match in Colonel Potter, who refused to allow Flagg to manipulate him with words ("I'm not fond of personal abuse, Colonel. I was in this man's Army when the only thumb you cared about was the one you had in your mouth!"). Flagg on one occasion countered this by circumventing Potter and obtaining, in effect, his written permission through I Corps to interrogate a wounded North Korean soldier. It was Major Winchester, however, who orchestrated the end of Flagg's machinations by duping him into believing that a weekly bridge game with two South Korean officials was a Communist plot. When Flagg attempted to arrest the officials, they threatened to report him to I Corps. Flagg was never seen again after this.
Flagg's paranoia is so acute that he even accuses Major Burns twice of being a communist agent on the grounds that Burns has seen a performance of the Bolshoi Ballet in Tokyo and is reading Reader's Digest, which Flagg notes would be "Red's Digest" if the 3rd, 5th, and 6th letters were eliminated. A running gag is Burns almost being beaten up by Flagg—when Burns calls Flagg crazy, Flagg threatens to rip Burns' heart out. Another time, Burns tries to buddy up to Flagg by slapping him on the shoulder. Flagg icily tells Burns "My father touched me like that once. To this day, he still has to wear orthopedic shirts."
Edward Winter's first appearance on M*A*S*H is in the second-season episode "Deal Me Out", in which he plays a CID captain named Halloran, and is listed in the credits as such. In the fourth-season episode "Quo Vadis, Captain Chandler?"—the next episode in which both Flagg and Sidney Freedman appear—Flagg greets Sidney with the statement "We played poker once," to which Sidney replies, "Oh sure; with Intelligence, right?" M*A*S*H often used recurring actors to portray different characters (Including Dick O'Neill, Tim O'Connor, Ted Gehring, and numerous Asian-American actors), however, the example of Capt. Halloran can be explained as one of Flagg's many aliases.
Colonel Flagg appears in seven M*A*S*H episodes: "Deal Me Out" (as Capt. Halloran), "A Smattering of Intelligence", "Officer of the Day", "White Gold", "Quo Vadis, Captain Chandler?", "The Abduction of Margaret Houlihan", and "Rally 'Round the Flagg, Boys". In "A Smattering of Intelligence" his first name is given as "Sam"; a running gag is that his rank insignia is the same as that of the Commanding Officer of MASH 4077 either Lt. Col. or Colonel, although he first appears as a Captain; both his rank and his last name may be covers.
Flagg's final appearance was in the episode "Rally 'Round the Flagg, Boys", in which he offered Major Winchester a transfer back to the States in exchange for information on Hawkeye following Pierce's decision to operate on a critically wounded North Korean ahead of an American GI. Under the appearance of cooperation, Winchester proceeded to ensnare Flagg in an elaborate trap that culminated in Flagg attempting to arrest the mayor and chief of police of Uijeongbu falsely assuming them to be Communists. With Potter, Hawkeye, Winchester, and two M.P.'s on hand to bear witness to Flagg's folly, the South Korean officials threaten that through their military connections, they will see to it Flagg is severely disciplined. Hawkeye delightedly intones, "You're gonna lose your magic decoder ring for this one!" Flagg does not appear on the show again, implying that he may have been severely punished for or at least mollified by his actions.
Flagg resurfaces a few years after the war, in a Hannibal, Missouri courtroom (as seen in the AfterMASH episode "Trials"), in which he uses the name Flagg and asserts employment with an intelligence organization "which has initials and its members are allowed to carry firearms in their shoes."
Ken Levine, a writer for both M*A*S*H and AfterMASH, wrote in 2011, "We loved writing Col. Flagg (the hilarious Ed Winter) but always felt there was a danger in going to that well too often. So we tried to use him sparingly (once a season or every other season). He was incredibly funny but that character was very broad and we didn’t want him to wear out his welcome."
Lt. Ginger Bayliss
Played by Odessa Cleveland on the TV series, Ginger is one of few nurses to have a recurring, speaking role in the series as the same character. Ginger appears to be a competent nurse who is well-liked by the medical staff, but occasionally runs afoul of Frank Burns who blames her for his mistakes, leading to Hawkeye and Trapper coming to her defense by pulling pranks on Frank.
Ginger is a commissioned Lieutenant, but is not a stickler for rules or military discipline like Major Houlihan. She is frequently seen fraternizing with Trapper and Spearchucker, even playing a game of "strip dominoes" with the latter in the first-season episode, "Chief Surgeon Who?".
In the first-season episode, "Major Fred C. Dobbs", Ginger is working with Frank in the O.R. When Frank botches his work, he blames Ginger and tells Maj. Houlihan that Ginger is, "an incompetent bungler. I never want her at my table again!" Ginger is brought to tears by Frank's verbal assault prompting Hawkeye and Trapper to encase Frank's right arm in plaster capped with a metal hook while Frank is sleeping.
One of Ginger's most prominent roles comes in the season 2 episode, "Dear Dad...Three" where a wounded soldier requests that he be given blood only from white donors. Hawkeye and Trapper decide to teach him a lesson by tinting his skin darker while he is sedated and subsequently referring to him as "boy" and bringing him fried chicken and watermelon to eat. When Ginger is doing her rounds in post-op, she looks at his chart and says, "They've got you down as white. Good job, baby!" When he angrily lashes out at her, she pulls rank on him, warning, "I'm a lieutenant, soldier. I don't care if you are passing, watch your mouth." Later, when Trapper and Hawkeye explain to the soldier that all blood is the same, he reflects upon his behavior. As he prepares to depart the 4077th to rejoin his unit, he thanks the doctors then turns and salutes Ginger, who returns the salute and wishes him well.
Ginger's last appearance was in the season 4 episode, "The Late Captain Pierce". All told, Cleveland appeared in 25 episodes of M*A*S*H spanning seasons 1-4.
Captain Oliver Harmon "Spearchucker" Jones originally appears in the novel MASH, and was portrayed by Fred Williamson in the movie and Timothy Brown in the television series. Spearchucker was shown during several episodes during the first season of the series. His full name was never mentioned in the series. The character's middle name was Harmon in the film and Wendell in the novels. He is a board-certified neurosurgeon in the film, and in the episode in which Hawkeye becomes chief surgeon, Spearchucker's specialty is indicated as he struggles to do surgery and when he asks Hawkeye for help he says "anything outside of the brain and I'm dead".
Dr. Jones was one of the original Swampmen with Trapper, Hawkeye, and Frank Burns, and was the sole black surgeon at the 4077th. In the pilot episode, to raise funds for Ho-Jon's education, Trapper jokingly suggests selling Spearchucker. During his brief run on the show, it was implied that he and nurse Ginger Bayliss (played by Odessa Cleveland) were romantically involved.
Spearchucker's role was limited. It is implied he assisted Hawkeye and Trapper in their schemes on the sidelines. The producers decided to drop the character after the first few episodes reasoning that they wouldn't be able to write enough meaningful episodes for Spearchucker if they were concentrating on Hawkeye and Trapper. Some accounts assert the producers were unable to find evidence for black Army surgeons in Korea; there were, however, a number of black surgeons who served in the U.S. military at the time.
"Spearchucker" Jones was also a character in both the novel M*A*S*H (and its sequels) by Richard Hooker and Robert Altman's movie. In each, the Spearchucker character is a superior surgeon who was also a stand-out collegiate athlete ("Spearchucker," a common racial slur, is said to refer in this case to his javelin-throwing prowess). Initially, he is transferred to the 4077th to help them win a football game (Jones is said to have played with the NFL's San Francisco 49ers) against a rival outfit. It is established in the novel that Jones is from Duke Forrest's hometown of Forest Park, Georgia, and knew Duke's father. Duke makes racist comments about Jones, causing Hawkeye and Trapper to punish Duke. In the novel, it is related that while a poorly paid resident, he had been scouted by the Philadelphia Eagles playing semi-professional football in New Jersey for extra cash, and had been signed by the Eagles, playing with them until he was drafted. (Coincidentally, Timothy Brown played most of his nine-year NFL career with Philadelphia, and was selected to the team's Honor Roll in 1990.)
In the sequel novels, particularly M*A*S*H Goes to Maine, Jones joins the other doctors in their practice in Spruce Harbor, Maine, becoming a highly successful doctor and prominent citizen.
Captain "Ugly" John Black was portrayed by Carl Gottlieb in the movie, and John Orchard in the TV series. The character on the television show was an anesthesiologist from Australia, often depicted wearing an Australian Slouch hat. In the book, he was an American who had "trained in the States with McIntyre." In the film, he is an American (as he can be seen wearing the insignia of a U.S. Army Captain), but his background is not discussed. In the TV series, Ugly John was present only in the first season. He began as a significant supporting member of the cast, often engaged in poker games with Hawkeye and Trapper, but by the end of the season he was rarely seen outside brief O.R. scenes. Ugly John was never seen living in "The Swamp" and there was no fifth bunk, though it was the only quarters for subordinate male officers ever seen. In the episode "Sometimes You Hear the Bullet", Hawkeye says that he shares a tent with three other doctors. The script was likely written before Spearchucker was dropped and the writers presumably overlooked editing that line of dialogue. However, Ugly John was still a recurring character, and may have been one of the "three other doctors." John Orchard later returned to the show for the Season 8 episode "Captains Outrageous", this time playing a drunken and corrupt Australian Military Policeman "Sgt. Muldoon".
Ho-Jon was portrayed by Kim Atwood in the film, and Patrick Adiarte in the series. In the original novel, Ho-Jon is described as a 17-year-old Korean, tall, thin, bright, Christian, and living in Seoul. He is drafted into the South Korean army, subsequently wounded and sent back to the 4077th for treatment. After rehabilitation, he resumes his position as "Swampboy". The Swampmen, who are very fond of Ho-Jon, arrange to have him sent to Hawkeye's old college in the US. To raise funds, Trapper grows a beard, poses as Jesus Christ (complete with a cross mounted on a jeep or hanging from a helicopter), and autographs thousands of photos which the Swampmen sell for a buck apiece. In M*A*S*H Goes to Maine, Ho-Jon is briefly seen again, having pursued a successful career in university administration. In M*A*S*H Mania he is shown to have become the Director of Admissions at Androscoggin College (Hawkeye's alma mater).
In the film, Ho-Jon is drafted, and Hawkeye drives him to the induction center. The Korean doctor who examines Ho-Jon discovers that Hawkeye has given him drugs to induce hypertension and tachycardia (so that he will fail the induction physical). Ho-Jon is last seen in the film being led away by South Korean soldiers while the doctor tells Hawkeye that he has seen through the trick.
In the screenplay, Ho-Jon is wounded and sent to the 4077th; however, his surgery is unsuccessful, and he dies. The completed film omits this storyline, although a scene showing Ho-Jon in the operating room remains with overdubbed dialogue (Houlihan: "That man's a prisoner of war, Doctor." Trapper: "So are you, Sweetheart, but you don't know it.") and a scene showing a jeep driving off with the deceased Ho-Jon, causing a brief pause in the poker game.
In the episode "I Hate a Mystery", Ho-Jon steals many valuable items and Hawkeye's poker winnings in order to bribe the border guards to bring his family down from the North. This contrasts with an incident in the pilot where he receives his college acceptance letter and leaves to tell his parents, who presumably live nearby.
Dish's role in the finished film was limited, as a large portion of her role did not make the final cut. The same thing happened to the character in the television series. After being prominently featured as Hawkeye's love interest in the pilot, she appeared in only one further episode (Episode 1/11) before leaving the show entirely. However, she continued to be featured in the opening credit montage sequence (wherein the M*A*S*H staff run toward approaching helicopters) for most of the show's run.
Lieutenant Colonel Donald Penobscott was played by two actors, Beeson Carroll and former football player and Tarzan actor Mike Henry. Donald is introduced in name only at the start of the fifth season. Tall, dark, handsome, and muscular, he is a Lieutenant Colonel and graduate of West Point whom Major Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan (Loretta Swit) meets while she is on leave in Tokyo. She falls madly in love with him on the spot, and he quickly asks her to marry him. Margaret promptly accepts, leading to a falling out with her former flame Frank Burns.
Penobscott is not actually seen until the season-ending episode "Margaret's Marriage", wherein Donald (played by Carroll) arrives to marry Margaret at the 4077th. Hawkeye and B.J. have a bachelor party for him, and after he passes out from drunkenness, the hosts, also inebriated, decide to play a joke on Penobscott by plastering him from his chest to his toes, intending to tell him that he had broken both his legs during the night. The cast is still on during the wedding ceremony, and he is unable to move without assistance. The wedding is cut short by incoming wounded, which leaves Donald in the mess hall, unable to move in his body cast. As Margaret leaves for her honeymoon, they make a halfhearted attempt to tell her that the cast could be removed, but she doesn't hear them over the sound of the helicopter they are departing in.
He is not seen again until the sixth-season episode "The M*A*S*H Olympics", in which Donald (played this time by Henry) arrives to visit Margaret and ends up taking part in the 4077th's amateur Olympics competition; he almost wins a race against portly Sgt. First Class Ames, but Penobscott trips over himself while showing off.
He is mentioned frequently throughout the 6th and 7th seasons, particularly in reference to problems Margaret and Donald are having. For example, in the episode "In Love and War", a new nurse arrives at the 4077th. After saying she was recently involved with a colonel named Donald, Margaret comes to the conclusion that Donald has cheated on her, and she flies into a rage against the nurse. In "Comrades in Arms", Margaret receives a letter from Donald that was meant for another woman—a letter that says unkind things about Margaret and hints at Donald having an affair with the other woman. Finally, in the season 7 episode "Peace on Us", Margaret announces she's getting a divorce. Margaret receives her official divorce decree from Donald in the episode "Hot Lips is Back in Town".
Staff Sergeant Zelmo Zale was portrayed by Johnny Haymer. Zale is the supply sergeant for the 4077th MASH and also is the camp's electrician; he is shown trying to keep the camp's generator going until it blows up. He is responsible for repairing the juke box in the officers' club after the Marines bust it up. In the episode "Patent 4077", Zale describes himself a master craftsman. He mentions in one episode that he is from Brooklyn, which was the reason he didn't know what people who were heading to California in the late 1840s were looking for, when quizzed. He makes his first appearance in the Season 2 episode, "For Want of a Boot", and his final appearance in the Season 8 episode, "Good-Bye Radar" (which also marked Gary Burghoff's last appearance on the show as Corporal Radar O'Reilly). Zale's name is mentioned for the final time in "Yes Sir, That's Our Baby". A running gag is his feud with Maxwell Klinger-once Klinger hit Zale for insulting the Toledo Mud Hens and is put on KP for a whole month. Another time Major Burns manipulates Klinger and Zale into a boxing match, which results in Burns being knocked out by both men.
Roy Goldman is a corpsman who is assigned various duties at the 4077th. His name was not used for several seasons, and in an early season, while with another soldier, he is referred to as either Carter or Willis (it is not clear which of the two is which). He is also referred to in one episode as Fred. Later the name "Goldman" was firmly established as his own. He is usually seen in a non-medical setting (such as guard duty), though he also does chores within the hospital. Goldman appears off and on throughout the run of series, usually when a soldier is needed for a random line or reaction. When Hawkeye walks into the mess tent naked, for example, Goldman is the first one to notice, dropping his metal tray in shock. He rarely has more than one or two lines, though in the episode "The Red/White Blues", his reaction to a medication is an important plot point and he speaks quite a bit more. (It is hinted in that episode that he is Jewish.) The character was played by an actor not coincidentally named Roy Goldman.
Like Roy, he is a corpsman, and he is frequently seen together with Roy. Sometimes he is a jeep driver. Dennis has glasses and straight hair, and usually has a mustache. Dennis rarely speaks beyond a few words. In one episode, Officer of the Day, he appears with another soldier and his last name is said to be Carter or Willis (it is unclear who is being referred to). One of those names, however, applies to Roy Goldman (see above), thus one can assume that the name was merely a one-time usage. In the episode "Dr. Pierce and Mr. Hyde", Dennis is General Clayton's jeep driver, and it is uncertain, in that instance, whether he is based at the 4077th or not.
Sparky (Sgt. Pryor) is the mostly unseen telephone/radio operator at headquarters. His nickname is probably a carry-over from the days of telegraphy. ("Sparks" is a similar nickname, as used, for instance, by Ellie's father in the film Contact.) Radar almost always needs to go through Sparky when he makes a call to Seoul, Japan, or the U.S. (Sparky seems to be at his desk round the clock.) Sometimes, for special calls, Sparky requires a bribe to arrange the connection. The character is seen and heard only once, in the first-season episode "Tuttle". This is also the only time his rank and real name are mentioned. He is portrayed by Dennis Fimple, who plays him with a noticeable U.S.-Southern accent.
The announcer on the public address system is heard throughout the film and in most episodes of the series. In the film, the voice is that of David Arkin. There were a few different voices in the series, among them Todd Susman's and Sal Viscuso's. (Viscuso is sometimes incorrectly listed as having been the P.A. announcer in the film.) In the series, it is unknown where on the base the P.A. announcer is posted, as Radar is the only one seen in control of the radio and P.A. system. In the episode "A Full Rich Day", Blake says, "Tony, hit it," cueing the national anthem of Luxembourg over the P.A. – Tony could have been the name of the announcer starting a record or the name of a "live" pianist.
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Hiya, Hot Lips," said the Chief Surgeon to the Chief Nurse. "Now that I'm a chief, too, we really oughta get together.
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