“Hogan’s Heroes” was a very popular TV comedy series that focused on what would typically be the not-so-funny lives of WWII P.O.W.’s. The show was set almost solely in the fictional Luft Stalag 13, a German camp set aside for United States resistance fighters and overseen by the strict but bumbling Colonel Klink. The prisoners at the camp received an unusually high amount of benefits, and they were constantly messing with their German captors as they attempted to help win the war effort for the Allied forces.
Even today, “Hogan’s Heroes” remains a supremely funny and subversive show that speaks volumes to cultural differences, camaraderie, and always looking at life through a ‘glass half full’ mentality. Here’s what happened to the actors from “Hogan’s Heroes” and some interesting facts about the show.
John Banner As Sgt. Hans Schultz
John Banner played the role of Sergeant Hans Schultz, a good-hearted man, husband, and father of five. Schultz would regularly realize that inmates of his Stalag 13 were planning mayhem and would famously declare, “I see nothing! I hear nothing! I know nothing!”
Following the end of “Hogan’s Heroes” he played the role of Uncle Latzi on the short-lived series “The Chicago Teddy Bears.” His final appearance was as Max Ledbetter on “The Partridge Family” in 1972. Sadly, Banner died on January 28, 1973.
Werner Klemperer As Col. Wilhelm Klink
Werner Klemperer played the role of the dim-witted and inept Colonel Wilhelm Klink. He was a cowardly man and incredibly gullible. He loved to claim that “No prisoner ever escaped from Stalag 13,” even though prisoners seemed to come and go as they pleased. Klemperer passed away in 2000 at the age of 80, but not before a long and successful career in TV.
His final role came in 1993 when he appeared as the voice of Homer’s Guardian Angel Colonel Klink on “The Simpsons.” He also made appearances on “Love Boat,” “Law & Order,” and “Mr. Sunshine,” among various other roles.
Bob Crane As Col. Robert E. Hogan
Bob Crane starred as the team’s leader. He is a United States Army Air Forces Colonel and the senior ranking POW officer on the show. He’s the brains of the operation, a man who knows how to plan and lead a team. Following his role on “Hogan’s Heroes,” Bob Crane played a role in “Love, American Style” from 1969 to 1971. He also led “The Bob Crane” show in 1975, but it only lasted for one season.
He acted in several other bit roles until his final TV appearance on “The Love Boat” in 1978. One month after starting a starring role in the play “Beginner’s Luck” in Scottsdale, AZ, he was found tragically deceased in his hotel room.
Robert Clary As Cpl. Louis LeBeau
Clary took on the role of Corporal Louis LeBeau, a Free French Air Force Corporal and a Master Chef. He was known for referring to all Nazis as “pigs” and Klink and Schultz call him the “cockroach.” He was also known for getting along better with the guard dogs than the prisoners and can often be seen using the tunnel entrance in the kennel. After his days on “Hogan’s Heroes,” Clary became somewhat of a soap opera regular.
He has made various appearances on “The Young and the Restless,” “Days of Our Lives,” and “The Bold and the Beautiful.” His last TV appearance was in 2001 for a short film called Matisse & Picasso: A Gentle Rivalry. That same year, Clary wrote a memoir, From the Holocaust to Hogan’s Heroes: The Autobiography of Robert Clary.
Ivan Dixon As Sgt. James (Ivan) ‘Kinch’ Kinchloe
Dixon played the groundbreaking role of James Kinchloe, an African American man who served as Hogan’s second-in-command, even though he was technically outranked by other members of the crew. The United States Army Air Forces Staff Sergeant was largely responsible for radio, telephone, and other forms of communication. Having a black actor perceived as a leader was a huge step forward for TV in the 1960s.
Dixon passed away in 2008 but spent his years following “Hogan’s Heroes” appearing in various shows including “Magnum, P.I.” and “The A-Team.” He also showed up in the 1987 TV series “Amerika.” His final role was an appearance in the TV series “Father Dowling Mysteries,” in 1991.
Larry Hovis As Sgt. Andrew Carter
Hovis played the role of Andrew Carter, a United States Army Air Corps Technical Sergeant. He was responsible for bomb-making and renowned for his chemistry skills and the intricate explosive devices he crafted. While he was brilliant, he was also a bumbling idiot who often forgot what he was mixing together, which caused a fair number of accidental explosions.
Hovis continued to act until 2002, when he appeared in his final role as a doctor in Lone Star State of Mind. From 1971 to 1972 he appeared in a few dozen episodes of “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In”. Hovis passed away in 2003.
Kenneth Washington As Sgt. Richard Baker
Kenneth Washington played the role of Sergeant Richard Baker. He joined the cast after Dixon made his exit from the show at the end of the fifth season. He was another African-American radio expert who led the underground communications center. Much like Kinchloe, he was well-liked and trusted by Col. Hogan. Washington is one of only two living cast members remaining in 2016, along with Robert Clary.
Much like his co-stars, Washington continued to stick to his TV roles in the years following the show’s finale. He appeared in several episodes of “Police Story” from 1974-1977 and made guest appearances on various shows and TV movies including “A Different World” in 1989. That would mark his last acting gig.
Richard Dawson As Cpl. Peter Newkirk
Richard Dawson played the group’s con-man, magician, forger, tailor, and safe cracker, among many other roles. He was known for his various impersonations that ranged from Adolf Hitler to Winston Churchill. He was also notorious for dressing in women’s clothing on several occasions in order to trick the Germans. Dawson passed away in 2012, but not before having one of the most successful post-“Hogan’s Heroes” career among the entire cast.
Following the show, he appeared for five seasons on “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In.” He also appeared on nine episodes of “The New Dick Van Dyke Show” before taking a gig hosting the popular game show “Family Feud.” He parodied his “Family Feud” persona as character Damon Killian in the hit movie The Running Man in 1987.
Bob Crane Insisted That Veterans Approved Of The Show Before He Signed Up For His Role
In the years before he became a successful actor, Bob Crane served in the Connecticut Army National Guard. His service began in 1948, and he was honorably discharged in 1950.
So, before he agreed to play Colonel Hogan, Crane had veterans watch the series trailer and give their approval. He donated many hours to support American troops and he wanted to do right by them. He even hosted an episode of “Operation Entertainment.”
The Show Was Originally To Be Filmed In An American Prison
When Albert S. Ruddy was creating “Hogan’s Heroes” he set the show in an American prison. It wasn’t until he learned that NBC was developing “Campo 44” in an Italian jail that he changed the script in its final location.
His commentary for the “Hogan’s Heroes” series DVD revealed that it took him just one day to change the show’s setting to WWII Germany. Changing a set is much simpler than moving a production in real life!
Richard Dawson Wanted To Use A Liverpool Accent
When Dawson auditioned for the show he wanted to play the role of Hogan, however, he couldn’t pull off the American accent. When he was given the role of Cpl. Newkirk he attempted to use a Liverpudlian accent.
The network said nobody could understand him so he went with a Cockney dialect. He did get his “I told you so” moment with his network bosses when Beatlemania swept the United States.
The Actors Playing The Four Main German Roles Were Jewish
Klemperer, Banner, Askin, and Caine played German roles but they were all, in fact, Jewish. The first three actually fled from the Nazis during WWII. Most shocking though may be the fact that Robert Clary was actually detained at a concentration camp and twelve of his immediate kin were taken to Auschwitz.
This fact wasn’t lost on the actors, with Klemperer admitting that if he could portray the role of Richard III he could play a Nazi.
General Burkhalter’s Mercedes Was One Of Only Three In Existence
General Burkhalter rolled around camp is a very flashy Mercedes-Benz W31. Only 57 of the black and gray convertibles were ever produced. Fifty-four of those were destroyed after the war. One was owned by the Spanish monarchy, and the other was turned into a fire engine.
In 2009 a classic car collector offered three W31s for sale in the U.S. for $9 million. One of them allowed passengers to stand up while riding.
The Show’s Tagline Was Suggested Sarcastically
If you watched the show, you know that the tagline was “If you liked World War II, you’ll love Hogan’s Heroes!” Comedian and author Stan Freberg sarcastically suggested that tagline during an interview with Bob Crane in 1965. “Shall we say, ‘If you liked World War II…you’ll love Hogan’s Heroes?'”
Freberg dryly asked. “No, let’s not say that, no,” said Crane. But shortly afterward, it became the show’s actual tagline.
A “Hogan’s Heroes” Album Was Released And Featured WWII Songs Sung By The Cast
Many fans may not be aware that an album was released which features WWII songs being sung by Clary, Dawson, Carter, and Kinchloe. The foursome sang some of the most popular songs from the 1940s. In the liner notes they wrote: “Would you believe World War II was funny?”
Song titles include “This Is The Army Mister Jones,” “Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square,” “The Last Time I Saw Paris,” “This Is Worth Fighting For,” and more.
The Theme Song Actually Had Lyrics
When the show aired it featured an opening and closing theme song that didn’t have any lyrics. For the show’s soundtrack Robert Clary, Richard Dawson, Ivan Dixon and Larry Hovis formed their quartet of singing Heroes.
Heroes, heroes, husky men of war, Sons of all the heroes, of the war before. We’re all heroes up to our ear-o’s You ask questions, We make suggestions, That’s what we’re heroes for
An Underground Steam Room Was Nearly Added
Stalag 13 was already an outlandishly huge facility with its long weaving tunnels and its various trap doors. At one point there was talk of giving the prisoners access to an underground steam room. The idea was eventually shut down for being too implausible.
In a 1966 episode, “rusted-out plumbing collapses the emergency tunnel just as Hogan needs to get four Underground leaders out of Germany, so he creates a health spa.”
That Horrible Violin Playing Was Far From The Truth
The bumbling Colonel Klink would regularly play the violin on the show and it always sounded like nails on a chalkboard. It became a hilarious recurring gag. In reality, Klemperer was a classically-trained and rather accomplished violist and pianist.
In fact, his father, Otto Klemperer, was one of the key conductors of classical music in 20th-century Germany and has been called “the last of the few really great conductors of his generation”.
Bob Crane Married Klink’s Secretary
Many actors who work together end up in romantic relationships, which also happened on “Hogan’s Heroes.” Bob Crane married his second wife after meeting her on the set of the TV series. He married Patricia Olson, whose stage name was Sigrid Valdis and who played Colonel Klink’s secretary Hilda from seasons two through six.
Crane’s first wife was his high school sweetheart, Anne Terzian. They had three children together: Robert David, Deborah Anne, and Karen Leslie.
Tear Down The Set? Nope. They Just Blew It Up
The popular TV series was filmed at the Desilu Productions’ RKO Forty Acres backlot. After filming had completed on the series, the 1974 exploitation film Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS took its place and the set was destroyed by an explosion.
“Hogan’s” producers didn’t mind the explosion, as it saved them the cost of demolishing the set. In the final scene, the prison camp is actually set on fire.
From The Start This Fact Was Known About Klemperer’s Character
Werner Klemperer was offered the role of Colonel Klink but he only agreed to take the role when he was assured by the show’s creator that Klink would never succeed in his schemes.
He signed on immediately after he was given the assurances he sought. The “Hogan’s Heroes” producers were true to their words, as Klink never did succeed in a single scheme he hatched. That was a solid agreement!
A Frosty Reception To Filming
To avoid any continuity issues the show’s creators decided from the start that there would always be snow on the ground and frost on the windows. That meant the actors had to film with scarves and winter coats, even when it was 90 degrees outside.
Most of the show’s scenes were filmed during the hottest Southern California summer months, which was quite uncomfortable for many of the actors to deal with.
A Leather Jacket With An Interesting Story
Bob Crane wore a very famous leather jacket on the set of “Hogan’s Heroes.” It was the same coat worn by Frank Sinatra during the filming of Von Ryan’s Express. That same coat almost made an appearance in 2002 when it was worn by actor Greg Kinnear in the movie Auto Focus.
The jacket was auctioned off by Christie’s in 2009 and was “accompanied by Crane’s military style Elbeco shirt with a pair of attachable military pins.”
The Show Fell Victim To “The Rural Purge”
The show aired its final season from 1971 to 1972. It was removed from the air in what has become commonly known as “The Rural Purge.” That was a time when shows were canceled because networks believed they were being watched mostly by rural audiences.
Other TV shows hit by the purge included “The Beverly Hillbillies,” “Green Acres,” “Hee Haw,” “The Andy Griffith Show,” “Mister Ed,” “Lassie,” and “Petticoat Junction.”
Here’s Some Interesting Character Background
Before he joined the war, Sergeant Schultz was, surprisingly, in the toy business. He apparently served as the president of a successful toy manufacturing company. Colonel Klink led a pretty boring non-war job existence, serving his time as a bookkeeper. You just never know what people were doing before called to war.
The business, called the Schotsy Toy Company, is mentioned in the Hogan’s Heroes episode “War Takes a Holiday.”
The Wedding Ring That Was Hidden
Actor Larry Hovis must have been madly in love with his wife. Throughout the entire TV series, he refused to ever take off his wedding ring. To avoid showing that his character was married in real life, he decided to wear gloves and otherwise cover up his ring finger for most of his performances.
It’s pretty admirable that Hovis was so devoted to the ring, and it’s impressive that the show went out of its way to help him cover up.
Most Night Time Scenes Were Filmed During The Day
Apparently, there were not a lot of night owls in this crowd. The show’s directors used something called a “Day for Night” filter on their cameras. That filter allows for day shoots to look like night. That type of filter made it easy to shoot whatever type of scene was required at any time of the day.
As time went on, film stocks and video cameras improved in light sensitivity, making this type of shooting pretty uncommon today.
The Uncomfortable Actor And The Nazi Stigma
The pilot for the show included a Russian character played by Leonid Kinskey. He decided to drop out of the series when he realized it was a comedy that starred Nazi characters. We would have thought this fact had been made known to him before he accepted the role, but for whatever reason, it must not have been.
Kinskey is best known for his role as Sascha in the film “Casablanca.”
Two Actors Appeared In All 168 Episodes
Two actors appeared in all 168 episodes. Bob Crane, who played American Colonel Robert Hogan, and Werner Klemperer, who portrayed German Colonel Wilhelm Klink, were the only regulars who managed to show up in every episode of the popular series.
They were not surprisingly also the show’s biggest stars and lynchpins for most of the show’s plotlines. However, IMDB also lists Banner as Schultz, Dawson as Newkirk, and Hovis as Carter as having appeared in every episode.
Salt and Paint Had This In Common
As mentioned, it was supposed to be wintry where the show was set, which was problematic for the warm California climate where things were actually filmed.
The snow on the roofs during the first several seasons was made out of salt. By the time the fourth season rolled around the show’s producers found a more permanent solution, using white paint to give the illusion of snow. By the sixth season, most of the snow seen on the set was made out of paint.
Bob Crane On The Drums
Bob Crane provided the drums on the theme song for “Hogan’s Heroes.” He was a talented drummer who got his start on the skins when he was just 11 years old. He had his drumsticks on him at all times and would drum to relax in his dressing room.
Crane even showed off his formidable skills on the third episode which was titled, “Flight of the Valkyrie”, and in the season six episode titled “Look at the Pretty Snowflakes.”
Full Names Only, Please
Two characters on “Hogan’s Heroes” were always referred to by their full names. Those characters were both African American. They included Kenneth Washington, who played Sergeant Richard Baker and Ivan Dixon, who took on the role of Sergeant James ‘Kinch’ Kinchloe.
The rest of the characters were referred to by either of their names throughout the series. Interestingly, there’s a season four episode called “No Names Please.” It was the one hundred and first episode of the series.
What Professions Did LeBeau Claim To Have Worked?
While it was eventually revealed that LeBeau was a chef prior to his time at the prison, he made a lot of claims about his past work. He claimed to be a chemist, then a dance instructor, dress designer, and even an art student. He claimed fake jobs to trick the German soldiers. He also revealed that his father worked in a railroad yard.
Robert Clary, who played LeBeau, later said, “We had a great crew, and I enjoyed the six years we were together.”
The Show Was Very Popular In Syndication… In Germany!!!
The popular American TV series became a hit in Germany. The title for the show was changed to “Ein Käfig voller Helden,” which means “A Cage Full of Heroes.” Newkirk has a stutter in the German version because his British humor didn’t carry over well for a German audience.
His character, in turn, was more comical. Some of the German soldiers were also given their countries equivalent of a redneck accent.
The Show Shared A Connection With M*A*S*H
Speaking of the German version of the show — it had to be translated into the countries own language and many of the same voice actors who dubbed the popular war-time TV show “M*A*S*H” were used to dub “Hogan’s Heroes.”
Here’s a fun activity for all you fans out there. Watch both shows in German if you have the time and you can probably figure out which voices carried over for both shows.
There’s A Book About The Show
There is surprisingly very little written about the TV show. Apparently, the actors and actresses involved were not too focused on bringing any stories to light. However, Brenda Scott Royce did release the sole biography of the TV series.
Her book is titled, Hogan’s Heroes: Behind the Scenes at Stalag 13 and it’s available on Amazon and through traditional book retailers. It contains interviews with some of the show’s stars and crew.
There Were Comic Books Written For The Show
The show aired during a golden period of comic books, so it makes sense that the TV series would receive the comic book treatment. Nine comics for the series were released between 1969 and 1973.
As with most out of print books and publications, you can find the books in used condition on Ebay and other sites, including Amazon and specialty comic stores, for varying prices depending on the condition.
Let’s Not Forget About The Ladies
Though there were far fewer actresses than actors on the set of Hogan’s Heroes, they certainly deserve a mention. Arlene Martel played a love interest of Hogan’s, a French Underground agent named Tiger. During the series, Hogan rescued Tiger from the Gestapo on two different occasions.
Marya, the “White Russian” spy, was played by Nita Talbot. She went on to receive an Emmy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her part on the show.
Another Female Role, Frau Gertrude Linkmeyer
Actress Kathleen Freeman portrayed General Burkhalter’s sister, the dowdy Frau Gertrude Linkmeyer. The photo here shows Freeman on the show.
“Hogan’s Heroes” took on a very serious subject matter, at a very serious time in the world’s history. The show did so with a level of humor that resonated with millions of viewers. It’s one of those rare shows where even interesting facts about its production seem less interesting than the actual characters and scenarios it presented on a weekly basis.
A Military History
M*A*S*H was Alan Alda’s largest role, with him playing Captain Hawkeye Pierce. Alda was perfect for the role, as he served in the Army Reserve in Korea, post-war. He had enlisted after graduating from Fordham University, similar to a lot of other men in that time.
Alda was a gunnery officer. Jamie Farr, or Corporal Klinger, also had previous military experience serving in the Korea. Farr even had experience acting in Army training films. The background helped both men get into the mindsets of their characters, enabling them to feel the frustrations of a life abroad in war.
While M*A*S*H eventually became a huge hit, it wasn’t always successful. In the first season, ratings tanked. Viewers didn’t seem to click with the show, causing the network to doubt their decision to keep it on. Before deciding to cancel the series because of the low viewership the network revived it by moving it to a different time slot.
When M*A*S*H moved to Saturday nights from its old time, after popular show All In The Family and before The Mary Tyler Moore Show. It immediately boosted the ratings of the show, resulting in it keeping its place as one of America’s favorite television programs.
The character of Radar had a nameless teddy bear that was nearly a character in itself. The bear was housed at the Smithsonian for a while, before going to auction with a starting bid of $500 in the summer of 2005.
The bear, which included a letter of authenticity from Gary Burghoff, who confirmed that not only was the bear the actual one from M*A*S*H but that the stuffed animal was one of its kind.There were 19 bidders hoping to land the bear, but the final bid for the nameless bear came in at over $14k. The bear found its place on M*A*S*H simply by being found on the set at Fox Ranch.
Corporal Maxwell Q. Klinger
Corporal Maxwell Q. Klinger, played by Jamie Farr, initially was supposed to be the token “effeminate gay” character and was slated to appear in just one episode. The character turned out to be a great addition to the show, so the writers kept Farr around.
Throughout the series, he was known for his schemes, such as cross-dressing, get-rich-quick schemes, and other plot lines that portrayed him as a zany form of comic relief. Also telling of the times, the writers chose to make him a heterosexual character instead and ditched the original scheme to have him attempt an early release by failing a psych exam.
Let’s Play Ball
Similar to modern day shows such as The Office, writers gained inspiration for M*A*S*H characters from real life individuals. Many of the patients from M*A*S*H’s seasons 6 and 7 were named after baseball players from the Los Angeles Dodgers, as well as the Angels.
Writers also drew inspiration from their personal lives to name everyone from Radar’s love interests to real-life family members. Radar’s love interests were named after previous girlfriends of one of the writers. Actor Mike Farrell, who was shown talking to his character’s family on the phone, requested that his daughter have the same name as his actual daughter, Erin.
Alan Alda was on M*A*S*H for eleven seasons and was in every single episode. He commuted from Los Angeles to New Jersey. Every weekend, Alda would fly back to NJ to be with his family. He opted not to move his family out to California, saying that he wasn’t sure how long the show was going to last. After the show ended, Alda developed a long, healthy acting career in film and television.
He had a guest appearance on ER as a doctor and worked with Woody Allen in Manhattan Murder Mystery. Alda also starred in The West Wing, 30 Rock, Blacklist and Horace and Pete. Alda went on to be nominated for 21 Emmy Awards, winning six. He also won a Golden Globe Award.
Actors also took cues from real life events, told to them by individuals who had experienced the Korean War first hand. The patients and doctors who had the first-hand experiences told such detailed stories about the war, the writers actually had to leave some of it out.
The show regularly censored content that could be perceived as sensitive, such as graphic scenes depicted by Korean vets. Actor Gary Burghoff, who was also famous for playing Charlie Brown in an off-Broadway musical, actually has a deformed hand in real life that he hid on the show. It’s frequently hidden behind set items, or stuffed in his pocket.
Fans Were Furious When Henry Blake Died
Actor McLean Stevenson, who was leaving the show anyway, was the focus of the show’s 72nd episode, titled, Abyssinia, Henry. In the episode, his character Colonel Henry Blake was to be honorably discharged. The character spent the episode saying goodbye to his fellow soldiers and making plans to go home and see his family. However, the writers had a terrible plot twist up their sleeves.
During one of the last scenes, Blake departs the base. After he leaves, the surgeons of M*A*S*H are operating when Radar bursts in, announcing that his transport plane had been shot down over the Sea of Japan and that Henry did not survive the crash. The fans were outraged that the writers decided to kill off Henry instead. CBS got over 1,000 complaint letters and the future of the franchise appeared to be in jeopardy.
No Feedback From The Cast, Please
The writers on M*A*S*H were initially open to feedback but grew weary of the constant, tedious notes that the actors gave. Wanting to get back at the cast, while also ensuring that the notes stopped, the writers wrote in unnecessary details for the scripts. One time, the actors had to wear heavy parkas, acting as if it were the dead of winter while in reality, it was a hot summer day in Malibu.
After that incident, the complaints and notes stopped. However, many cast members were unhappy with being one of many stars on set. McLean Stevenson actually left the show for this reason, hoping to find more success elsewhere.
When Wayne Rogers, who played Captain “Trapper” John McIntyre, decided to leave M*A*S*H, the producers told him he’d be in breach of contract. It turned out that Rogers, a fan favorite at the time, had never actually signed a contract, helping him get out scot-free. Rogers, who had initially auditioned for Hawkeye Pierce, was unsatisfied with how gruff Pierce was.
He requested to read for Trapper instead, and the role fit. Rogers found some success in film after the series wrapped, but went on to produce, write and direct in Hollywood. He also dabbled in finances, even creating his own stock investment corporation and appearing as a guest contributor on Cashin In.
To reflect the reality of war, a lot of nurses were cast on M*A*S*H, and they didn’t last long. They didn’t have large parts, so writers gave them bland names. The writers drew inspiration from the HAM operators and military, giving the nurses names from the phonetic alphabet. Kellye Nakahara, an actress who was frequently credited as Nurse Kellye, also appeared under other nurse names.
Nakahara was called Nurse Yamato, Nurse Charlie, and Nurse Able. Her role eventually expanded into a speaking part, with her most significant scene in the eleventh season where she got into an argument with Hawkeye.
Though the creators of M*A*S*H tried to remain authentic in their writing, there were nonetheless many inaccuracies. The boots worn by the actors weren’t actually army boots, as they were too loud. The boots were also notoriously uncomfortable for actors to wear, so most of them wore sneakers instead. Scenes were strategically shot to hide this.
Other inaccuracies included the use of aluminum cans, the pinball machine that was shown in the officer’s club, and candy bars with UPC codes printed on the back of them. All of these items were historically inaccurate, not created until the 1960s and 1970s.
A Sad And Strange Coincidence?
M*A*S*H had a strange crossover with actor McLean Stevenson and Roger Bowen, resulting in an eerie coincidence. Stevenson played Lieutenant Colonel Henry Blake on the TV series but left the series to pursue other acting opportunities. His career declined after M*A*S*H, which unfortunately resulted in ridicule from the cast and crew members.
Sadly, Stevenson passed away from a heart attack in 1996. Roger Bowen, who played the role in the 1970 M*A*S*H film, also died of a heart attack that year. In an even stranger coincidence, the two men died within a day of each other.
The Best Of The Best
The final series of M*A*S*H, which aired on February 28, 1983, made television history when over 106 million viewers tuned in. This record has only been set by The Super Bowl. M*A*S*H’s eleven-season run was impressive, considering the first season’s slow start, along with the failed spin-off, After M*A*S*H.
The finale, called “Goodbye, Farewell and Amen.” was two and a half hours long and was even directed by series star Alan Alda. Alda was heavily involved with the creative process throughout the series, writing thirteen episodes, directing some episodes, on top of his series regular duties. You’ll notice that most scenes in the finale take place inside and that’s because their outdoor set was ravaged by a fire.
The show inspired not one, but three spin-offs after it wrapped in 1983. Trapper John, M.D. focused on the character’s life after the military, as the Chief of Surgery at a hospital in San Francisco. It ended after seven seasons. Wayne Rogers did not reprise his character. W*A*L*T*E*R, a show focused on Radar’s character, was supposed to be about his life in St. Louis.
After the war, the character was written to become a police officer, unsure of his direction after the army. The pilot was not picked up. AfterMASH, a show starring M*A*S*H stars Harry Morgan, William Christopher, and Jamie Farr, was short-lived due to its failure to live up to the popular show The A-Team.
Remember Hot Lips?
How could you forget?! Actress Loretta Swit portrayed Major Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan for all eleven seasons of M*A*S*H. The blonde bombshell was known as 4077th’s sweetheart and Swit was so great in the role that she was awarded two Emmy’s. Even decades after the show went off the air, Swit still received fan mail from all over the world.
She has said that her favorite episodes were “Margaret’s Engagement,” “Hot Lips & Empty Arms,” and “The Nurses.” In 2014, however, Swit admitted that she doesn’t watch reruns of M*A*S*H or any other television for that matter.
Gary Burghoff, before his role as Radar O’Reilly, pursued a career in music. He was the drummer for a band that was called The Relatives, and he shared the stage with the one and only Wonder Woman, aka, the famous and beautiful Lynda Carter. The two remained friends and Carter’s influence actually helped Burghoff land a guest spot on her hit series. So, it could be argued, there would be no Wonder Woman without Gary Burghoff.
After the series wrapped, Burghoff quit acting and pursued his childhood interest in animals. Combining it with his natural artistic talent, Burghoff became a successful artist and is currently working as a full-time wildlife painter.
As mentioned earlier, Klinger was a bit of a cross-dresser and a wedding dress he wore got plenty of love. Apparently, his wedding dress was sported on three different occasions each time by different people. Why didn’t the makers just get another dress for these people to wear? Maybe it was just to save money.
The times it was worn and who it was worn by goes as follows; Klinger when he married Laverne Esposito, Margret Houlihan, when she married Lt. Col. Donald Penobscot and Soon Lee, when she married Klinger. Hopefully, they washed those threads well enough for everybody!
Actress Kellye Nakahara Passed Away
On February 16, 2020, actress Kellye Nakahara passed away after battling cancer. She was 72 years old. In a statement, her son said that “[s]he died in her home peacefully with her family and her closest friends.”
After M*A*S*H, Nakahara went on to act in films including Black Day Blue Night, She’s Having A Baby, and Clue. Here, Nakahara is pictured with Loretta Swit at the 7th Annual TV Land Awards in 2009.
A Laughing Matter
In the beginning, CBS said it was mandatory that the show used a laugh track. They wanted the laugh track despite the actors and producers not wanting to use it. Even though the show was quite funny, the laugh track just seemed not to fit in during a war, right?
Because back then shows had live audiences, CBS thought it should be added because the viewers would not know when things were supposed to be funny. They thought the audience wouldn’t have known the show was a comedy. Today, if you get the DVD version of the show, you can turn off the laughs.