Nothing says Hollywood star like a dressing room full of ants. Which M*A*S*H star faced an ant invasion on set?
Humor was a key component to the show M*A*S*H. Humor led to the show’s boundless success. And humor is what got the characters of the show through the Korean War. Most importantly, humor is what connects the show’s cast to this day. In 2019, cast members Loretta Swit, Gary Burghoff, Mike Farrell, and Jamie Farr joined Alan Alda on his podcast, Clear+Vivid. As soon as the group got together, the humor picked up right where it began. Speaking of the beginnings, during the podcast episode, the cast shared some of their favorite (and hilarious) memories on set. Loretta Swit, who played Major Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan on M*A*S*H said that the filming conditions on the Fox studio lot at the time were less than ideal.
McLean Stevenson’s Dressing Room Was Covered in Ants
Despite the success of M*A*S*H, the cast’s dressing rooms and set conditions weren’t what you’d expect from an award-winning show. In fact, the set was closer to the conditions their characters were living in during the Korean War than Hollywood actors. The show aired for six years before the cast got a bathroom on the stage. Additionally, Swit revealed that her co-star, McLean Stevenson’s dressing room was covered in ants.
“McLean had so many ants in his dressing room, one of his boots was moving,” Swit said laughing.
The M*A*S*H co-stars also laughed about when they paid for their own peanut butter and coffee on set. Jamie Farr, who played corporal Maxwell Q. Klinger, on the show said the actors gave the president of 20th Century Fox Television, a $100 bill. They told him they wanted peanut butter. The next day, a pallet of peanut butter showed up reaching from “the floor to the ceiling,” said Farr.
Well, that’s why there were so many ants!
Loretta Swit Didn’t Believe M*A*S*H Would Last Very Long
M*A*S*H captured the hearts of viewers when it first aired on September 17, 1972. The show ran for 11 seasons and aired its final episode on February 28, 1983. THat’s 255 episodes! But Loretta Swit didn’t think she’d be on the show for that long when she accepted the role of Major Margaret. During an interview in 2018, Swit shared a story that she and her agent laughed about for years.
“I think it was in the beauty parlor under a dryer or something and my agent called to say that he had the contracts and would I stop by to sign them,” said Swit. “He said, very casually, ‘They’re the standard seven-year contracts,’ and I gasped. I said, ‘Seven years! Who would sign a contract for seven years for a script I don’t know anything about?’ So, I was a little thrown. He said, and I quote, ‘Lori, nothing runs for seven years.’ In the years to come, we laughed.”
Well, technically they were right, M*A*S*H didn’t last for seven years. It lasted for 11 and networks still play reruns of the show today.