‘M*A*S*H’: How One Actor Started an Award-Winning Career on the Series

by Madison Miller
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He may have just been in one episode of the classic sitcom “M*A*S*H,” but it turns out it was one of many credited appearances in television and film.

Brian Dennehy starred alongside Alan Alda, Mike Farrell, Harry Morgan, Loretta Swit, and the rest of the legendary “M*A*S*H” cast in an episode from 1977. Dennehy wasn’t the only actor to appear in the show over the years. People like Alex Karras, Bruno Kirby, and Blythe Danner all stopped by Mobile Army Surgical Hospital 4077 over the years. Even Patrick Swayze and John Ritter paid their “M*A*S*H” duties.

Brian Dennehy on ‘M*A*S*H’

According to IMDb, Dennehy was in an episode titled “Souvenirs,” which aired on March 1 of that year.

The episode features Hawkeye and BJ trying to stop a chopper pilot from selling different souvenirs. These souvenirs are actually war materials that locals are facing danger trying to retrieve.

While his role as M.P. Ernie Connors was a rather short-lived character. Many “M*A*S*H” fans have likely forgotten his appearance entirely. However, he went on to have a pretty legendary career. His role in the ’70s sitcom was one of the first credited roles of his career. He had small roles in other series like “Police Woman,” “Lucan,” and “The Fitzpatricks.”

Breakthrough Role, Other Career Moves

His breakthrough role was as the overzealous sheriff named Will Teasle in “First Blood” in 1982. He starred alongside Sylvester Stallone. Some of his other movies include “Foul Play,” “Silverado,” “Cocoon,” and “Split Image.” He didn’t get a leading character role until his thriller “Best Seller” in 1987 with James Woods.

Most recently, people may recognize him as the strict dad-rat voice from “Ratatouille” in 2007. He was also in the comedy “Tommy Boy” alongside Chris Farley and David Spade in 1995. He also got to work with Robert De Niro and Al Pacino in 2008 for “Righteous Kill.” He also had a role alongside Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes in “Romeo + Juliet.”

Although he starred in many series on television, it was really his role in television movies that brought him many awards. He received six different Emmy Awards during his career. The most popular of his television movies was “To Catch a Killer.” He played infamous serial killer John Wayne Gacy. He actually earned a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television in 2001 for this movie.

Other key television movies include “Our Fathers,” “Death of a Salesman,” “Murder in the Heartland,” and “The Burden of Proof.” Since movies and TV weren’t enough, Dennehy also was a major actor in the theater. He won two Tony Awards for Best Lead Actor in a Play for “Death of a Salesman” and “Journey Into Night.” He was close with Eugene O’Neill, a famous playwright, and had a decades-long love for Chicago’s Goodman Theatre.

He went from “M*A*S*H” to a massive mesh of different roles in the entertainment world. Dennehy could do Westerns, dramas, comedies, and even voice acting.

Sadly, he passed away in April 2020 from cardiac arrest. His very last role was in “Son of the South.”

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