“M*A*S*H” star Mike Farrell was able to find work after his CBS sitcom ended. In fact, he appeared as a guest star on “Law & Order: SVU.”
Farrell, who played B.J. Hunnicutt on the popular show, played Jonah Malcolm in the 2008 episode “Persona”. Jonah is married to Linnie [Brenda Blethyn] and they are the older neighbors of a woman named Mia [Clea DuVall]. Now Mia is found by Detective Olivia Benson [Mariska Hargitay] hiding in an alley because she claims her husband raped her.
But things get messy for Farrell’s character after Jonah found out Linnie was also in an abusive former relationship. In fact, Linnie killed her ex-husband but wasn’t put in custody by former Assistant District Attorney Donnelly [Judith Light]. After learning of his wife’s past, Jonah leaves Linnie.
‘M*A*S*H’ Star Played His Character During Series’ Final Eight Seasons
Back to Farrell and his time on “M*A*S*H,” where he played Hunnicutt for the series’ final eight seasons. Farrell joined the cast after Wayne Rogers left after three seasons. Hunnicutt was the roommate of “Hawkeye” Pierce [Alan Alda], along with Charles Emerson Winchester III [David Ogden Stiers].
While he still gets parts on shows, there are scripts Farrell has received and simply turned them down. Why?
“Most of the stuff I get offered is so stupid I would never consider it,” Farrell told The Oregonian. “I don’t want to tarnish the legacy of the best TV show that’s ever been on the air, and I think most of us feel the same way.”
Farrell, who is now 82 years old, was born in Saint Paul, Minn. He’s been married to actress Shelley Fabares since 1984.
“M*A*S*H” made stars out of a lot of its cast. Besides Farrell and Alda, others included Loretta Swit [Maj. Margaret Houlihan], Jamie Farr [Cpl. Max Klinger], and Harry Morgan [Col. Sherman Potter]. After the original series ended, Farr, Morgan, and William Christopher [Father Francis Mulcahy] starred in the short-lived spinoff “AfterMASH.”
Farr Catches Big Break From Famous Comedian To Be On His Show
Speaking of Farr, it turned out that one of the most famous comedians in movies and television gave him a big break.
The “M*A*S*H” star recalled his meeting with Red Skelton. First, though, Farr did get a role in “No Time for Sergeants” alongside Andy Griffith and Don Knotts. But he couldn’t get another job fast enough after moving from his native Toledo, Ohio, to Hollywood.
“There weren’t a lot of roles for short Lebanese guys with giant schnozzes,” Farr said. Skelton’s writers, however, wrote a character with a big nose who could smell anything. Farr remembered auditioning for Skelton at his Bel-Air Mansion.
“Red took one look at me and asked, ‘Was your mother scared by an anteater?'” Farr said. “Like they say in ‘Casablanca,’ it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
It also would lead Farr, ultimately, to play Klinger on “M*A*S*H.”