‘M*A*S*H’ Star Loretta Swit Discussed What Margaret Would Be Like If the Show Still Aired

by Joe Rutland

One of the great things about classic TV shows is that fans get to ask “what if” questions about these great shows like M*A*S*H. For instance, what might have happened to Margaret Houlihan after Korea? Would she be finding love again after her divorce from Donald Penobscott years earlier? If M*A*S*H were on TV today in new episodes, then where would Margaret actually be? We get a little insight from Swit about this question.

“My take on Margaret in the finale, she said she’s going to be in a hospital stateside, I would have not done that,” Swit says in an interview with TribLive. “I would have contributed something else, but that is what everybody decided to write for her and we had no input on that. (And) I said to them, ‘I don’t see that at all. She’s going on to the next war. Margaret was a 30-year-man.’

Loretta Swit of ‘M*A*S*H’ Sees Margaret Houlihan Headed Toward Vietnam

“Margaret was the female version of Harry Morgan (Col. Potter) … so she was probably on her way to Vietnam,” Swit says. “She was going to the next war. And, who knows romantically what happened to her, but her work was cut out for her, so that is what she would keep on doing. And then we would see how she coped with the life that would happen around her and how she would handle it.”

Swit was and is part of a show that has legacy written all over it. M*A*S*H did start out as a situation comedy with every show going for laughs. That was the thrust of the first few seasons with comedy writers like Larry Gelbart around. It happened to be their strength and the show reflected the humor.

Show Would Take On More Serious Tone In Later Seasons

Of course, war is not full of laughs. When Gelbart and Gene Reynolds happened to leave the show, it actually gave more space for people like Alan Alda to take part in episodes. Alda, of course, played Hawkeye Pierce throughout the show’s entire run. But the actor also had a hand in writing scripts and even directing episodes. The tenor of M*A*S*H would change in later seasons toward a more serious tone. Issues facing soldiers and nurses at the 4077th were becoming center stage in shows.

The laughs were there but the laugh track sometimes would not be as prevalent. Humor always did have a place in the show. Yet there were moments, like when Margaret divorces Donald, that brought more humanity to the issues in Korea. M*A*S*H also would let people see how the war affected Koreans themselves. For this and other reasons, the show remains a favorite for millions of people.