5 Things You Probably Didn't Know About M*A*S*H

On September 17, 1972, the comedy series "M*A*S*H" premiered on CBS and ran from 1972 to 1983, much longer than the Korean War itself. Here are five other facts about this iconic television show that you probably didn't know.... 

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“M*A*S*H” Lasted a Lot Longer Than the Real Korean War The Korean War lasted three years, on month, and two days, which was much shorter than the television program that entertained viewers for 11 years. Many of the storylines acted out in M*A*S*H are actually real stories which came from real MASH units which were operating in Korea, taking the stories from actual patients, doctors, nurses, and other soldiers who were serving on the Korean peninsula.

Four Cast Members Served in the Military Alan Alda (Captain Hawkeye Pierce) was in Korea for six months with the Army Reserve, and Jamie Far (Klinger) was in the Army at Camp Drake in Tokyo when he was requested to join the Korean USO Tour by Red Skelton. Mike Farrell (B.J. Hunnicut) served in the U.S. Marine Corps. Wayne Rogers (Trapper John) was a ship navigator in the Navy.

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The Finale Is The Most Watched Episode In American History When the final show was aired on February 38, 1983, it was estimated that 77 percent of television viewers around the country were tuned in, totaling 121.6 million people. The finale, a 2 ½ hour special, was titled “Goodbye, Farewell and Amen.” During the beginning of the series, advertisers paid $30,000 for a 30-second commercial, but to air a spot for 30 seconds during the finale, they had to spend $450,000.

The Cast Did IBM Commercials After the massive success which was MASH, the brand IBM wanted to create the same kind of splash with their brand new product – the home, personal computer, or PC. They decided to hire the old cast of MASH and had them closely reprise their own characters, but in a “modern” (read 1980s) office setting.

There Were 3 Spinoffs One of the spinoffs was “Trapper John, M.D.,” which was on the air between 1979 and 1986 and was about Trapper John McIntyre’s present-day tenure as chief of surgery in San Francisco (it didn’t star Wayne Rogers). “After MASH” featured three of the original stars of the hit show, Harry Morgan, William Christopher and Jamie Farr. Unfortunately, the show was unable to compete with “The A-Team” and was canceled during its second season. The third attempt at a spinoff was W*A*L*T*E*R, and was to star Gary Burgdorf as Walter “Radar” O’Reilly, who starts life again as a policeman in St. Louis. However, the pilot wasn’t picked up, and aired only once as a "CBS Special Presentation" on July 17, 1984.