‘M*A*S*H’: One Episode Drew Inspiration From Jamie Farr’s ‘Twilight Zone’ Appearance

by Caitlin Berard
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When creating the classic TV series M*A*S*H, writers had a particular goal in mind. The show needed to be entertaining, with generous splashes of comedy. It was imperative, however, that it remain a respectful, at least semi-realistic depiction of war and the trials of soldiers. The show’s leading actor, Alan Alda, insisted on it. In fact, he refused to agree to play Hawkeye unless his demands were met.

With that in mind, it might be surprising to learn that one of the series’ eeriest, most otherworldly episodes, “Follies of the Living – Concerns of the Dead,” was written and directed by Alda himself. In the episode, a dead soldier’s soul explores the camp, entirely unaware that he left his body behind. It’s one of the only M*A*S*H episodes that employs the use of special effects.

When writing the episode, Alan Alda drew inspiration from another iconic show, The Twilight Zone, the delightfully macabre anthology series from the early ’60s. Specifically, he looked to “The Passerby.”

In this episode, a group of Civil War soldiers wanders down a road, nursing horrific wounds. At the end of the episode, it’s revealed that everyone on the road is dead.

In the M*A*S*H episode, Klinger (Jamie Farr) is the only person able to see the soldier. The episode ends with the fallen soldier realizing he’s dead, just like the soldiers from The Twilight Zone.

Klinger’s ability to see the soldier allows for a more interesting story, along with more dialogue for the fallen soldier. And the choice of Jamie Farr for this role was intentional. Jamie Farr had a small role in the Twilight Zone episode on which the story was based. Though Jamie Farr is uncredited in the Twilight Zone episode, his cameo on the series was no doubt known among the M*A*S*H cast.

Jamie Farr Once Said His ‘M*A*S*H’ Role Was ‘Like a Cartoon Character’

The comedy-drama M*A*S*H is among the greatest TV series of all time, and for good reason. In addition to its countless memorable storylines, M*A*S*H birthed some of TV’s most iconic characters. From Benjamin “Hawkeye” Pierce to Walter “Radar” O’Reilly to Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan, the main characters of M*A*S*H remain revered to this day.

That said, none of the incredible characters of M*A*S*H are quite as unforgettable as Klinger (Jamie Farr). Desperate to escape the army, Klinger’s main mission in the camp was to prove himself mentally unsound. As such, he often dressed in women’s clothes and performed outlandish stunts.

Hilariously, Jamie Farr had no idea what awaited him on the M*A*S*H set but now looks back on his wacky days as Klinger fondly. “[Klinger] was like a cartoon character,” Farr said in an interview with Studio 10. “You could do anything with it and you’d accept it. You’d say, ‘That’s okay. That’s Klinger.”

Outsider.com