‘M*A*S*H’: Why BJ Hunnicutt Actor Mike Farrell Said TV Networks are ‘Business-Oriented Cowards’

by Joe Rutland
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Television network executives will not find a close, personal friend in “M*A*S*H” star Mike Farrell. He shared some unkind words about them.

“The networks are business-oriented cowards,” Farrell, who played Capt. B.J. Hunnicutt on the show, said in a 2009 interview with Oregon Live. “When you’re getting the ratings we were getting, there’s no problem from the network.

“It allowed them to feel very self-congratulatory about how brave they were for doing this daring show,” Farrell said. “While knowing they weren’t going to mess with the cash machine.”

‘M*A*S*H’ Star Joined Cast In 1975 After Wayne Rogers Left Show

Farrell joined “M*A*S*H” in 1975 after Wayne Rogers, who played Capt. “Trapper” Jon McIntyre, left the show. Hunnicutt became the new roommate for Capt. Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce, played by Alan Alda. Farrell stayed with the show through its last season in 1983.

But his disdain for network executives did not keep Farrell from getting roles. Among the shows he appeared in as a guest start were “Murder, She Wrote” and “Desperate Housewives.” In 2019, Farrell showed up in an episode of popular CBS drama “N.C.I.S.”

Before Farrell got the role on “M*A*S*H,” he had a number of films to his credit, too. They included “Captain Newman, M.D.,” “The Graduate,” “Panic in the City,” and “Dayton’s Devils.”

Classic TV Show Provided Look at Life from War Zone

“M*A*S*H” made Farrell into a household name. His character showed depth when he would write or talk about his wife, Peg, back home in the United States. The CBS sitcom was set in the middle of the Korean War.

Farrell, now 82 years old, married actress Shelly Fabares in 1984. He was married to his first wife, Judy, from 1963-83. They had two children, Michael and Erin, during their marriage.

The TV show ran for 11 seasons on CBS. Its series finale, called “Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen,” remains one of the highest-rated ones in television history.

When the Hunnicutt role became available, “M*A*S*H” producers were looking not only at Farrell but actor James Cromwell.

Two Well-Known Actors Auditioned For Hunnicutt Role

“Gene [Reynolds], Larry [Gelbart], and Burt [Metcalfe] told me they couldn’t promise anything,” Farrell said in an interview with “The Hollywood Reporter.” “They just had to prepare in the event Wayne leaves. It was a short time after that I did a screen test with Alan.”

Farrell said a couple of days later, he was visiting his mother and received a call from his agent.

The agent said “You got it” to Farrell. “I said something along the lines of, ‘I can’t talk right now,’ and hung up,” Farrell said. “[And] I ran in, hugged my mother, and then ran out to my car and drove to my agent’s office.”

Oh, Cromwell ended up having key roles in movies like “Babe” and TV shows like “Boardwalk Empire.”

Outsider.com