‘M*A*S*H’: How a Strange Dream Alan Alda Had Turned Into Hilarious Inside Joke on Set

by Madison Miller
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“M*A*S*H” was on from 1972 to 1983 and had 11 seasons. Surely, that amount of time and effort had to have led to some interesting off-set relationships and inside jokes.

Several of the cast members had been friends even when the cameras weren’t pointing at them.

One example is the friendship between Alan Alda, who played Hawkeye Pierce, and Wayne Rogers, who played Trapper John. The two were quite the duo on the show. Their characters, Trapper and Hawkeye, would partake in hilarious practical jokes on Frank Burns and Margaret Houlihan. They were always scheming about something.

But they were also friends off-camera as well. In fact, Alda confided in Rogers about a strange dream he had.

‘M*A*S*H’ Stars Talked Dream Interpretations

Alda wrote in his book, “Never Have Your Dog Stuffed: And Other Things I’ve Learned,” about the bond the two shared. The cast often had to drive between different filming locations. However, Rogers hated having to drive, so Alda agreed to be the designated driver. He would do it under one condition. Rogers had to be his personal Sigmund Freud and analyze the meaning of his dreams driving between “M*A*S*H” sets.

Alda told Rogers about a dream where he was acting, but the director kept pushing him against his will to climb onto an armoire or wardrobe to deliver his lines. In his dream, he knew there was no reason to deliver lines from the top of an armoire. Although it may sound a bit ridiculous as a nightmare, for an actor like Alan Alda, it was apparently his worst nightmare.

“This is very important. Directors are always asking us to do these unbelievable things to make it easier to shoot. Your dream is telling you to resist them. Don’t give up reality. Don’t do an armoire,” Rogers said to him.

From this point on the phrase “Don’t do an armoire” became a type of mantra between the two actors. Whenever a director was being too pushy or going too far, either Alda or Rogers would whisper it to the other. It was a reminder to stick up for yourself and not be a pushover.

Rogers would eventually take the advice to heart. He ended up leaving “M*A*S*H,” which meant Alda no longer had his go-to dream interpreter buddy at his side. Rogers had grown weary of playing a “second banana” to Alda’s character and left at the end of the third season. Originally, Alda and Rogers were meant to be interchangeable. However, Hawkeye ended up being the Chief Surgeon, which gave him more pull and power over the others.

Alda and Rogers’ Friendship

Despite being cautious around directors, Alda would soon become one himself. He had the directing credit in 32 episodes of “M*A*S*H.”

He would also later direct more films and TV shows after “M*A*S*H” was finished. Perhaps Alda’s nightmare soon went away as he was now in control of telling people to “do an armoire.”

When Wayne Rogers passed away in 2016, Alan Alda wrote a touching letter that was published in The Hollywood Reporter. He explained that he never met Rogers until the day of rehearsals. Despite being strangers, Alda said the two quickly found a relationship similar to their on-screen roles. He also recounted his dream story to the publication.

“Wayne was warm and funny and very, very smart. But, as smart as he was, he never told you what to think. If he disagreed, he just asked you a question that innocently invited you to think about what you thought. Now, what I’m thinking about is him. I missed Wayne when he left the show, but for decades I could see him whenever we were in the same city. But I miss him now in a new, unhappy way. We’ll never again be in the same city,” Alda wrote.

Despite leaving “M*A*S*H,” the two still kept in touch.

Outsider.com