Gary Burghoff is beloved for playing Radar on the classic tv show M*A*S*H, but he’s excelled at several careers off of the small screen. The actor is also a musician, painter… and inventor.
Long before playing radar, Gary Burghoff made waves in the theater. However, it was in a role that mirrors the innocent likeability of Radar. He originated the role of Charlie Brown in the off-broadway play You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. The production was of course based on the comic strip “Peanuts”, by cartoonist Charles Schulz. The 1967 play was a major success and eventually made it to Broadway with a different cast. It’s often performed to this day by amateur theater companies due to the simplicity of the set design and small cast.
Starting in 1968, Burghoff played drums in a jazz act called The Relatives. Gary Burghoff wasn’t the only future tv star to be in the lineup. Wonder Woman herself, Lynda Carter, was the vocalist. The band even managed to get a three-month-long engagement in Las Vegas. Burghoff later reunited with his bandmate when he guest-starred alongside Carter in a 1978 episode of The New Adventures of Wonder Woman.
Gary Burghoff brings Radar to the big and small screen
This leads Gary Burghoff to M*A*S*H, but maybe not as you remember it. Burghoff originated the role of Radar in the 1970 film version of M*A*S*H. Directed by Robert Altman, the film had a different, more melancholy tone than the series eventually would. Burghoff is also the only cast member of the film to carry over to the tv version. Though Radar was a popular character and the M*A*S*H series was a huge success, Burghoff left years before the show ended. The actor cited burnout and felt he had taken the character as far as it could go. He left the show after season 7, though he did return for a two-part episode the following season to send Radar off.
Though Gary Burghoff continued taking acting roles following M*A*S*H, his interests shifted. He became an accomplished painter, with his work reportedly fetching tens of thousands of dollars. His artwork usually focused on wildlife, as conservation became a growing passion. During this time, he also began a family and focused on raising his children. Burghoff then returned to the world of music. He formed the jazz group “The We Three”, recording and performing live again.
Not to be topped, Gary Burghoff has yet another career as an inventor. Connected to his love of the outdoors and wildlife, he patented “Chum Magic”. The invention is a fishing tackle that attracts fish to the owner’s boat. The actor and musician also hold a patent for a toilet seat handle. Though retired from acting, Burgoff returned for a role in the 2010 independent film, Daniels Lot. You can catch Burghoff as Radar on episodes of M*A*S*H on MeTV.