‘M*A*S*H’ Creator Larry Gelbart Wrote the Show’s Pilot in Two Days for $25,000

by Joe Rutland
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When it came time to write a pilot for the TV version of “M*A*S*H,” veteran writer Larry Gelbart put it together rather quickly.

How quick? Well, it took him two days and he pocketed $25,000 for that bit of work.

That’s according to the book, “Watching M*A*S*H, Watching America: A Social History of the 1972-83 Television Series,” written by James H. Wittebols. Gelbart did this work back in November 1971

Gelbart was one of the show’s main writers along with another TV veteran, Gene Reynolds. He stayed with the show that he co-created for four seasons, then left.

‘M*A*S*H’ Displayed Humorous Tone During Larry Gelbart’s Tenure On Sitcom

The early years of “M*A*S*H” had a rather comedic tone to them. Gelbart cut his teeth as one of the writers on the legendary TV show “Caesar’s Hour” starring Sid Caesar. Gelbart, Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, and Neil Simon were among that crew of creative wordsmiths.

With that background, it’s not hard to see how the funny moments between Alan Alda, Wayne Rogers, McLean Stevenson, and Larry Linville were written out.

In later years, “M*A*S*H” took on a more serious tone. By that time, Alda, who played Benjamin Franklin Pierce, was quite involved in both writing and directing episodes. The humor of those early seasons took a backseat to a more pensive, serious look at the Korean War and its effects on people.

“M*A*S*H” was a Monday night staple for much of its run on CBS. The series finale, “Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen,” remains among those top series-closing shows with record viewership.

TV Show Debuted On CBS Back In September 1972 Covering Events in Hospital

Back in September 1972, “M*A*S*H” would debut on CBS and follow the events of surgeons and military personnel at a hospital.

It wasn’t just any hospital, though. It was a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital, one that found a space in the war zone and started treating the wounded.

With this as a backdrop, the sitcom provided plenty of laughs thanks to its cast. Listening to Hawkeye and Trapper John cut it up on Frank Burns remains a memorable moment for the show’s fans.

We did mention earlier, Outsiders, that the show was a Monday night staple. But it also faced numerous changes in days and times, too.

Other problems included catering issues as well as those working on the show not receiving much-deserved credit from network bosses.

It all reached a point of no return for the show.

In fact, the cast and crew members stormed the network’s office in California. The result? It got put on Monday nights and stayed there.

Even today, you can watch “M*A*S*H” reruns on television all over the world.

Outsider.com