On this day in 1983, the celebrated sitcom M*A*S*H bows out after 11 seasons, airing a special two-and-a-half hour episode watched by 77 percent of the television viewing audience. To commemorate the men and women of the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital, check out these 4 interesting facts about the series finale...
Only Two Actors Appeared in Both the First and Last Episodes Alan Alda, who played surgeon Captain Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce, and Loretta Swit, known as the nurse, Major Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan, were the only two actors to appear in the first episode as well as the two-hour finale. Alda appeared in all the episodes during the 11 seasons M*A*S*H was aired and was also the director of the finale. Swit appeared in all but 11 of the show's 256 episodes. The television series was a spinoff from the 1970 movie M*A*S*H, which was directed by Robert Altman and starred Donald Sutherland.
A Fire at the Filming Location Was Written Into the Script The Fox Ranch in Malibu Creek State Park, used by 20th Century Fox, was the filming location for a number of famous movies as well as being the set for the M*A*S*H finale. A brush fire occurred at the location, and it was written into the script, extending the finale from its originally slated 90 minutes to two full hours. This extension allowed extra commercials to be run, and since they sold for $450,000 for a 30-second spot, the network made more money than they would have had the fire not happened.
The Final Show Wasn’t Filmed Last The final season of the show wasn’t filmed in chronological order. The cast and crew had to go back and shoot the remaining episodes of the season after the filming of the finale episode. The final program of the series shot was actually the episode titled “As Time Goes By,” which features the burial of a time capsule. Almost 106 million people watched the two-hour M*A*S*H finale, “Goodbye, Farewell and Amen,” in the United States. It was the most-watched program on television until 2010 when it was finally surpassed by Super Bowl XLIV.
The Finale Caused a Water Surge in New York One rumor that floated around following the finale of M*A*S*H was that so many people went to the bathroom after the program concluded, the pressure drop created a water surge inside the tunnels bringing water from the Catskill Mountains to New York. This wasn't just an urban legend. It turned out to be true. It was estimated that 6.7 million extra gallons of water entered the New York City sewers around three minutes after the end of the show.