This article is from the M*A*S*H FAQ, by Doug Krause email@example.com with numerous contributions by others.
Throughout the 11-year run of M*A*S*H, some regular cast members left
for various reasons. Here are some of the rumours:
Timothy Brown: (Captain "Spearchucker" Jones)
The writers got rid of his character after only the fifth episode of
the series, since they discovered that there had been no black surgeons
in the Korean War.
Gary Burghoff: (Walter "Radar" O'Reilly)
In an interview a few years ago, Gary said that he left the show early
because he wanted to pursue other avenues (such as Broadway theatre), and
that he hadn't been able to develop the character of Radar O'Reilly as
much as he would have liked. However, it doesn't look like there was any
tension or animosity between him and the staff because Radar was given a
big send-off in an emotion-filled two part episode in the 8th season.
Larry Linville: (Major Frank Burns)
It's rumoured that Larry left M*A*S*H at the end of the fifth season
because he didn't want to get eternally typecast as a shallow, whining,
by-the-book bad guy. Judging by his track record (refer to the "Other
Credits" List) I think he waited a bit too long, since almost all of his
later TV/movie appearances have him portraying this type of character!
Wayne Rogers: (Trapper John McIntyre)
Wayne was unhappy with his role, always playing 'second fiddle' to
Alda's character Hawkeye Pierce, so at the end of the third season he
just quit. That's why we never saw McIntyre having a huge send-off like
Colonel Blake had, since Wayne wasn't available anymore.
Maclean Stevenson: (Colonel Henry Blake)
Not realizing how popular and long-lasting M*A*S*H would be, Maclean
left at the end of the third season in order to pursue other TV projects.
It's rumoured that he was offered a lot more money than he was receiving
on M*A*S*H in order to do his own talk show, entitled "The Maclean
Stevenson Show", but this show was very short-lived. Since the writers
had killed his character off (partly out of malice for his leaving?),
there was no way he could return to M*A*S*H.
----- Every now and then, a nasty rumour surfaces on alt.tv.mash regarding
disputes between crew/cast members, bad attitudes, unprofessional
conduct, etc. These seem to be nothing more than rumours though, as
very reliable sources can attest to the wonderful relationship that the
people of M*A*S*H had with each other.
The most recent rumour was a claim that Gary Burghoff ("Radar
O'Reilly") was the hardest person to work with in Hollywood. Larry
Gelbart (writer, director and producer of many M*A*S*H episodes, and an
active participant in the alt.tv.mash newsgroup) quickly squelched the
rumour by stating the following:
"I'm not sure that even those who appreciate the work he did as
Radar (starting with the motion picture) understand what a truly
fine actor he is. Watch him in any episode and see the way he
listens to his fellow actors (and not everyone does or did this) -
see how he finds a way of helping whoever he's ever doing a scene
with - how inventive he is with little bits of business, and never
distracting from anyone else. After all this time, I am still in
awe of the fabulous gifts he put at the service of the series."
Mike Farrell ("BJ Hunnicut") also felt that the rumour had no merit,
and he relayed a message to alt.tv.mash to discredit it. Here is an
excerpt from his message:
"For any group of people to work that closely together in the
high stress situation that is a television series for that many
years presupposes that there will be disagreements - sometimes big
ones. As Gary has admitted, there were times he behaved in a manner
that doesn't make him glow with pride in retrospect. I wonder how
many of us could make the same statement.
There is no "good source" for such a rumor because there is no
validity to it.
I had the privilege of working with the cast and company for
eight years and can attest to the fact that it was very much a
family. As is the case in the best of families, there were some who
were more outgoing, some who were better at one thing than another,
some who behaved inappropriately at times, but when things got "out
of line" or when tensions, for any reason, got to a level that
needed to be dealt with, they were dealt with openly, respectfully