M*A*S*H* star Larry Linville couldn’t keep it together when he forgot his lines in a rare behind the scenes look at the series’s outtakes.
A handful of scenes from the 22 minutes of unused footage feature Linville not exactly nailing his part. The actor hilariously trailed off from his lines several times. Expletives punctuated each mistake he made. For example, he annoyedly said “whatever the f— it is” upon forgetting one line.
Linville starred on M*A*S*H* from 1972 to 1977. The series went on for another six years without Linville. Other cast members include Alan Alda, Loretta Swit, William Christopher, and David Ogden Stiers.
Based on the 1970 film of the same, the series was a runaway success. M*A*S*H* received over 100 Emmy Award nominations, and it won 14. Additionally, it also won numerous Golden Globes. When the series aired its finale in 1983, it became the most watched television broadcast in American history. Interestingly, this episode also lead to a spike in water usage at the time the episode ended. Reportedly, viewers avoided going to the bathroom so they wouldn’t miss anything.
M*A*S*H* Star Alan Alda Opened Up About Show
While the entire cast was well-received, Alda was the star of M*A*S*H*. He won numerous awards, including an Emmy, for his performance as Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce. He also directed and wrote several episodes, for which he also won two Emmys. However, Alda hesitated to accept the role back when the opportunity first arose.
“I was making a movie in the Utah state prison. M*A*S*H was by far the best script I’d ever read in prison,” Alda said. “I said to my wife, Arlene, ‘I can’t do it because it’s going to be made in California and we live in New Jersey. Who knows, this thing could run a whole year.’”
Ultimately, Alda decided to commute between Los Angeles and his nome in New Jersey nearly every week of filming. In the same interview, series creator Gene Reynolds explained why the show needed Alda’s star power.
“He was attractive, a leading man and wonderfully comedic actor who could play the sober moments,” Reynolds said. “There’s not a lot of guys like that floating around.”
Additionally, Dan Wilcox, a writer for M*A*S*H*, said that Alda had a natural presence onscreen. He could play a scene in such a way that audiences could forget that he was acting.
“Alan was brilliant at finding a way to play a scene so that he wasn’t directly in it,” writer Dan Wilcox said. “If he had an exposition in the mess tent, he spent the whole time studying his food. He’d pick up a fork, sniff at it, and put it back down, meanwhile participating in the conversation.”