Alan Alda opens up about his Parkinson’s disease diagnosis
Q: Where are some actors and actresses from old TV shows like M*A*S*H? I know some are deceased. I can’t find out from anyone else this morning. — Veda.
A: The television series M*A*S*H follows the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital unit while they care for injured soldiers during the Korean War. Viewers who have never seen an episode can currently view the show on the streaming subscription service, Hulu.
M*A*S*H originally aired from Sept. 17, 1972, to Feb. 28, 1983. During the early years of M*A*S*H, the U.S. was still embroiled in the Vietnam War. Writers for the show were encouraged by corporate executives to portray war, relationships and loss in a sensitive manner.
Some fans of the series say M*A*S*H didn’t truly find its legs until episode 17, “Sometimes You Hear the Bullet,” which aired on Jan. 28, 1973. In episode 17, Hawkeye, played by Alan Alda, mourns the death of a soldier, one of his old friends, and Ron Howard, of Happy Days fame and who recently directed the new Han Solo movie, played an underage soldier with appendicitis.
Episode 17 was applauded for its treatment of war, friendship and grief with both humor and drama.
The M*A*S*H series finale was watched by an estimated 77 percent of the people watching television that day, making it one of the most-viewed programs in history.
Where are they now?
Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce — Alan Alda is 82 years old and recently announced he’s fighting Parkinson’s disease. He is the son of Robert Alda, the actor, and was born in New York City. After M*A*S*H, for which Alda won a handful of Emmys, he had a role in several films including “The Four Seasons” and “The Aviator.” He also played a role on the television shows “West Wing” and “The Blacklist,” worked on Broadway and hosted “Scientific American Frontiers” on PBS.
Walter Eugene “Radar” O’Reilly — Gary Burghoff is 75 years old and was born in Bristol, Connecticut. He was the only person to appear in both the M*A*S*H television series and film, playing Radar O’Reilly in both. Burghoff left the show in season 8, citing a desire to spend more time with his family. Prior to M*A*S*H, Burghoff starred in the role of Charlie Brown in the 1967 production of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.” He was well-known in the show as being from Otumwa, Iowa. He is a jazz drummer and can be heard playing in M*A*S*H episode 24, “Showtime”, the final show of the first season. After M*A*S*H, Burghoff had a few minor television appearances and a role in the 2010 film “Daniel’s Lot.” He published a book about his life called “Gary Burghoff: To M*A*S*H and Back” in June 2009.
Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlian — Loretta Swit was born in Passaic, New Jersey, and is 80. She and Alda were the only actors to perform in M*A*S*H from the pilot to the final show. Following M*A*S*H, Swit performed in various Broadway shows including “The Vagina Monologues” and also hosted the television show, “Those Incredible Animals.” She’s been a spokesperson for the Humane Society and a practicing vegetarian for many years. In December 1983, Swit married Dennis Holahan, whom she met during a guest appearance on M*A*S*H. They divorced in 1995. According to the Omaha World-Herald, Swit will be the featured speaker at a September dinner honoring female veterans and will take an honor flight with the veterans to tour Washington, D.C., the following day.
John Francis Xavier “Trapper” McIntyre — Wayne Rogers was born in Birmingham, Alabama. Prior to M*A*S*H, the Princeton graduate served in the Navy. Rogers left M*A*S*H after season 3 because of a contract dispute, according to the New York Times, or to pursue other interests, according to CNN. He had a reoccurring guest role on “Murder She Wrote” and roles in a dozen film projects. Rogers developed his investment and money management skills and was the head of Wayne Rogers & Co., an investment firm. He also testified before Congress about tax laws and was a commentator on Fox News. Rogers died at age 82 on Dec. 31, 2015, following complications from pneumonia.
Maxwell Q. Klinger — Jamie Farr was hired for one episode initially but ended up becoming a series regular in the fourth season and stayed through the end of M*A*S*H. He also portrayed Klinger in the M*A*S*H series spinoff, “AfterM*A*S*H,” which explored what happened to a few of the characters after the war ended. Farr, 84, was born in Toledo, Ohio. He married Joy Ann Richards in 1963 and they are still married today. During his extensive career, Farr made multiple comedic television appearances, starred as Nathan Detroit in “Guys and Dolls” on Broadway and portrayed Thaddeus in the film “The Greatest Story Ever Told.” According to Entertainment Weekly, Farr and Swit reunited in May 2018 on the red carpet at the Daytime Emmy Awards in Pasadena, California. Farr has been battling rheumatoid arthritis since the 1990s.
Sherman T. Potter — Harry Morgan, born Harry Bratsberg in Detroit, Michigan, on April 10, 1915, had over 100 film credits to his name. He also performed on the stage. At a press conference for the series finale of M*A*S*H, Morgan said that appearing on the show “made me a better human being and there aren’t many shows you can say that about.” In addition to starring as Col. Potter on M*A*S*H, Morgan was well-known for his portrayal of Officer Bill Gannon on the television series “Dragnet.” One of Morgan’s last roles was a college professor on the show “3rd Rock from the Sun”. At age 96, Morgan died in his sleep on Dec. 7, 2011, at his home in Los Angeles, California.
Father John Mulcahy — William Christopher played Mulcahy in the M*A*S*H series but not the pilot episode. He was born in Evanston, Illinois. Though he portrayed a Catholic priest, Christopher was a Methodist. After M*A*S*H, Christopher performed in stage shows and made further television appearances. He and Jamie Farr teamed up for a 1997 production of “The Odd Couple.” Christopher became a published author when he and his wife, Barbara Christopher, wrote a book, “Mixed Blessings,” about challenges in their family life and one of their children who is autistic. Christopher served as an honorary chairman on the National Autism Society. He died at age 84 on Dec. 31, 2016, one year to the day after the death of his M*A*S*H co-star Wayne Rogers.
B.J. Hunnicutt — Mike Farrell replaced Wayne Rogers at the start of M*A*S*H season 4 and appeared on the rest of the series. Though he had other television and producer roles, he was most well known for his portrayal of Hunnicutt. Farrell was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, and is 79 years old. He is a political activist and has served on the Cult Awareness Network, Human Rights Watch, and Death Penalty Focus groups, among others. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals named its humanitarian award after Farrell. In March 2018, Farrell spoke at the Families Belong Together March in Irvine, California.
Frank Burns — Larry Linville was born in Ojai, California. He was married five times and was featured in both television and stage shows. One of his most notable stage appearances was opposite Ingrid Bergman in “More Stately Mansions.” In college, Linville studied aeronautical engineering, but failed a color-blindness test and started studying acting instead. In June 1997, Linville attended a deactivation ceremony for the last remaining U.S. M*A*S*H unit in Korea. According to the Los Angeles Times, one of the show’s writers told Linville at the ceremony, “You’ve been stupid in 100 languages.” Linville died of cancer and complications from pneumonia at age 60 on April 10, 2000.
Henry Blake — McLean Stevenson was born in Normal, Illinois. He received a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Television Series in 1974 for his role on M*A*S*H. Stevenson left the show at the end of Season 3 and was replaced by Harry Morgan. After M*A*S*H, Stevenson was a guest host multiple times for Johnny Carson on “The Tonight Show.” He also had appearances on “The Love Boat” and a handful of short-lived television programs. In an interview with the Baltimore Sun in Nov. 1990, Stevenson said, “I made the mistake of believing that people were enamored of McLean Stevenson when the person they were enamored of was Henry Blake.” On February 15, 1996, Stevenson, 66, died of a heart attack.
Charles Emerson Winchester III — David Ogden Stiers joined the cast of M*A*S*H in 1977 after Larry Linville left the show. Stiers was born in Peoria, Illinois. Following M*A*S*H, he provided the voice of a half dozen animated Disney characters including Cogsworth in “Beauty and the Beast,” Ratcliffe in the film “Pocahontas” and Jumba in “Lilo & Stitch.” Stiers performed in a dozen different television series and was Oberoth, a reoccurring character, in “Stargate Atlantis.” He died at age 75 of bladder cancer on March 3, 2018.
Sydney Freedman — Of all of the reoccurring characters on M*A*S*H, Allan Arbus’ portrayal of the psychiatrist Sydney Freedman came closest to becoming a regular character on the series. He appeared in 12 episodes. Prior to his stint in television, Arbus served as a photographer in the Army Signal Corps during World War II. Some of his fashion photography appeared in publications like “Vogue,” “Seventeen,” “Harper’s Bazaar” and “Glamour.” Like most of the other M*A*S*H alumni, Arbus appeared in multiple television programs including “Starsky & Hutch,” “Taxi” and “Matlock,” and some film roles. Arbus died on April 19, 2013, of heart failure. He was 95 years old.
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