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October 29, 2006


Mike in Seattle

Don't know if you timed your blog post intentionally Ken...these episodes are playing tomorrow (Mon 10/30) on the Hallmark channel.


Okay, I'm an Iowa boy and I'm tearing up just now thinking about that Teddy Bear in the Swamp (and now at the Smithsonian) and good old Radar back on the farm with his new girlfriend, Patty… M*A*S*H was the show that filled the TV viewing room in my dorm every time it was on. I think it's strangely touching that Gary Burghoff wouldn't wear his hat--he was totally into graduating from the series, just as Radar retired from the war. Such a beloved character, who cares if he's bald? War is hell, and will age a person. One question I have is: Why was Hot Lips' name changed from O'Houlihan (in the movie) to Houlihan for the series?


What exactly was Gary Burghoff's problem?

Beth Ciotta

*clearing the lump from my throat* I remember that episode well. Conveying sadness without schmaltz. You guys are the kings.


Hi KenYour writing on Mash sure taught me a lot about handling sentimental scenes on a sitcom. In fact, Mash taught me much about writing funny. About how much invention one can take in the construction and placement of words in a sentence. About the exhiliariting lunacy and sometimes insight which can arise from an unexpected collision of two hiterto plain thoughts. I remember a line of hawkeye - comedy is anger delivered sideways. I always remembered that. did i get that right? It says a lot. And in a fresh way.i would like to know when alan alda started writing stories for mash, did he break the stories with you guys? what was it like when alan alda wrote and directed Mash episodes?thanksp.s - ken, did you ever wanted to direct any episode of mash?there was one writer, glenn carron? the guy who eventually created moonlighting..i think he wrote for mash too..he was very good too.


A great episode. Thanks for the memory. I understand Gary was a pill.


Sorry Ken, I think you're funny but I'd rather talk politics than rehash M*A*S*H.


Ken,Great post, and another great peek behind the curtain. I had heard that Gary Burghoff was unliked on the set. If that were true it was great acting and writing that hid that.Who was more unliked on their respective sets: Gary B or Shelley L.? (Note how I've not used their last names so that you have some deniability). I'll understand completely if you don't weigh in on that one.

Cap'n Bob Napier

I worked with a guy who said his family knew Gary Burghoff/Radar, and that he had a slightly deformed left hand. He hid it from the cameras by some contrivance--clipboard, bugle, animal, etc. Any truth to this?He's now a highly regarded wildlife artist, BTW.


Ken,I liked the 'losing' the hat bit.Radar had grown up. So the fact that he was bald, didn't kill the illusion.We all know that Gary had been playing a teenage boy for a decade.Certainly, compared to the Cheers episode that talks about Sam's baldness was possibly the worst moment ever in the show. That's just showing the man behind the Wizard of Oz.


It always pains me to hear that Shelley Long was difficult, because she was so damned good as Diane, and the show was never the same after she left. I'd put her performance up there with Jean Stapleton's as one of the best female comedy leads ever.

Ken Levine

The problem with Radar "growing up" is that we have the built in conceit that they were only there at the 4077th for one year. Radar aged ten. I know it's a ridiculous conceit but when you have an eleven year run and the war lasted just a couple you have to take a little "artistic license".

Tim Dunleavy

Well, considering how much gray Alan got in his hair over the course of the run, a little hair loss from Gary doesn't bother me much. ;-)


Ken,I agree with the conceit that the show took place in a short time period.But as you wrote so eloquently in Radar's speech to Hawkeye (which I watched last night), is that Radar grew up and was not a kid anymore. In television and in the movies we have to spend our disbelief.We have to believe that war ages a man.We have to believe that all the episodes of Potter and Trapper took place in less than a real year.ON the other hand, most Americans know little about the Korean war. If you told them that it did last 11 years, they'd believe it.I remember a quote by one of the girls on the TV show, "One day at a time" that went something like this: "My history books are old and dated. If it weren't for MASH, I wouldn't even know there was a war in Korea."The idea is that we get the feeling that Radar aged and is now a man and the man of his family, and is able to take care of himself without his father figures Henry, Potter and Hawkeye.BTW, I understand why Gary played it angry. He probably was. Whenever I have left a job, i was always angry to leave. NOt because I wasn't happy going somewhere else, but I was angry that I couldn't take the people and my coworkers with me. ANd it was scary to move on...

Mustang Bobby

Thanks for the insight, Ken. That (those) episodes are some of my favorites in the series. I think you handled the end beautifully, but the scene that always tears me up is Radar saying the hurried good-byes as the team is doing triage and Col. Potter says "Not exactly the way I wanted to say good-bye, son," and his voice catches. It still gets to me.[Pause while Mustang Bobby gets tissue.]Anyway, thanks.

Mike Barer

I'll never forget McLean Stevenson's last episode. That really went where no TV show went before.

Neesha Mirchandani

I just watched the Goodbye Radar episode on the Hallmark channel and by accident, stumbled upon your site. I was looking for how to use voice over in my screenplay. I agree with you about the hat. I kept thinking the same thing last night as I watched. I love M*A*S*H.


I was amazed at how they hid Gary's crippled hand for all those years... the one-handed bugle playing was incredulous.


I agree with the commenter on McLean's goodbye episode. It really was spectacularly brazen to kill him off and handled so well. Wasn't MASH also the first show in which a character -- BJ -- called somebody a "son of a bitch"?Don't recall hearing a peep from the FCC then...

Kieron Dwyer

Stumbled onto this site and found this post. My dad was in the last Radar episode, playing the acid-tongued guy at the airport who bumps Radar from his original flight, allowing him time to meet the girl, then getting him on the early flight after all. I have seen that episode countless times now, thanks to Tivo. Met Gary some years later at a comic book convention. He was nice enough, but I found it odd how large his signature was on his wildlife paitings, and he'd actually signed many of them TWICE. ?I have apparently enjoyed much of your work over the years Mr. Levine. Thanks.

Dan Coyle

And while you're here, great job on those last few issues of The Thing, Mr. Dwyer.

Barry W

In my estimation there was no more poignant scene in the "Goodbye Radar" episode than when Hawkeye saluted Radar through the operating room door. Get choked up just thinking about it now. Thanks for the memory, Ken.

Jane Carnall

Wow. I didn't know you had a blog, and I didn't know that I could get to tell you in person how much I love the M*A*S*H episodes you and David wrote together. Thank you for all the pleasure you've given me.


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    Ken Levine is an Emmy winning writer/director/producer/major league baseball announcer. In a career that has spanned over 30 years Ken has worked on MASH, CHEERS, FRASIER, THE SIMPSONS, WINGS, EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND, BECKER, DHARMA & GREG, and has co-created his own series including ALMOST PERFECT starring Nancy Travis. He and his partner wrote the feature VOLUNTEERS. Ken has also been the radio/TV play-by-play voice of the Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners, San Diego Padres.
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