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28 February 2010

On this day in history: Last episode of M*A*S*H broadcast, 1983

In 1968, Richard Hooker (r.n. H. Richard Hornberger) published a novel called MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors. He based the book, which he wrote in collaboration with the sports writer W.C. Heinz, on his experiences as a surgeon at the 8055th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital during the Korean War, basing the character of Hawkeye Pierce on himself. Two years later 20th Century Fox released a movie adaptation of the book directed Robert Altman and starring Elliot Gould as "Trapper John" and Donald Sutherland as "Hawkeye".

The success of the feature film prompted 20th Century Fox to produce a television series. The first episode of M*A*S*H appeared on the CBS network on 17th September 1972. The ensemble cast included only one of the actors from the movie version, Gary Burghoff as "Radar." Alan Alda took the role of "Hawkeye"; Wayne Rogers appeared as "Trapper" (for the first three seasons); Loretta Swit played "Hot Lips" Houlihan; Larry Linville portrayed "Frank" Burns, who was often the butt of the other surgeons joke.

While not an instant hit, the show's popularity grew over time and eleven series were produced. On 28th February 1983, the 251st and final episode of M*A*S*H aired, telling the story of the end of the Korean War and the effect this had on the show's characters. Nearly 106 million Americans watched the two-and-a-half hour special entitled "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen", which remains the most viewed episode of the television series in the United States to this day.

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Clueless said...

Oh, you made me tear up and feel old. I loved M*A*S*H and cried so much during the last episode. I can't believe how long ago it aired. It had the right combination of everything...I miss those types of dramadies.

sandy said...

A great show, remember this episode well. We were on a ski vacation, stayed in that night so we wouldn't miss the last episode. It was very powerful. I still sometimes watch reruns of the show.


Stephanie Barr said...

This is a series worth owning in its entirety.

And I do.

The RadioGuy said...

If you can make through the first 45 minutes which is very sad and borderline disturbing. It is very touching and hopeful and the end especially the "Goodbye".
It's too bad it was followed by "AfterMASH"!

Stepterix said...

Thank you all for your comments. It seems that this was a well-loved show. A friend of mine was somewhat obsessed by it.