Alan Alda, who played the iconic Hawkeye on M*A*S*H, tweeted out a sweet birthday message to former co-star Gary Burghoff for his recent 78th birthday. Burghoff, who played Radar, co-starred alongside Alda for seven seasons. Even decades later, Alda still has kind words for him.
“Happy birthday, Gary,” Alda tweeted.
“You gave me the longest laughing jag I ever had in the scene where you had to drop your pants & couldn’t stop laughing. Hope you laughed again today.”
Alda thinks M*A*S*H Would Have Been Cancelled if it Aired Today
Although M*A*S*H still holds the record for the most-watched live series finale of all time, the actor and activist doesn’t believe that the show would have been successful today. While Alda and Burghoff got to make memories together for many years, they wouldn’t in 2021. Alda thinks M*A*S*H would have been canceled after one season.
In a 2000 interview documented by The Archive of American Television, Alda spoke about how the network gave M*A*S*H a chance. The show wasn’t a hit at first.
“The network liked the show enough; people at the network liked the show enough to keep it on the air even though it wasn’t doing well in the ratings,” he explained. “Today, they cancel shows like during the first commercial. They don’t stick with them. They stuck with us for the whole season, and we were at the bottom of the list.”
That sort of patience on behalf of M*A*S*H’s home network, CBS, isn’t something that really exists today. Shows, even those that do relatively well, get canceled.
Star Jamie Farr Joked CBS was ‘Cheap’ Even after Show’s Success
While the network certainly gave M*A*S*H more of a chance than any network would today, it didn’t mean they weren’t “cheap” in other areas. Jamie Farr, who played Maxwell Klinger, once told Studio 10 that the network had funny ways of cutting corners when it came to spending.
The on-set vendor used to charge those who worked on the show .25 for a cup of coffee. For on-set refreshments, that’s quite a high figure especially considering .25 is about 1.25 today. Apparently, the vendor would also give the actors free snacks, but the network said that had to stop.
“We’d give the guy 25 cents, and he started to take little Ritz crackers out and put peanut butter on them and give them to us,” he said.
“Well, the guy that’s the head of the money people for the craft services that we had to cease and stop. It was costing the studio too much money because of the Ritz crackers and the peanut butter.”
After a bit of back and forth, things changed. The Network decided to pay thanks to actors by buying them tons of peanut butter.
Actors like Jamie Farr, Gary Burghoff, and Alan Alda made M*A*S*H work. While the show is long over, the work they produced remains an incredible example of TV done well. Thankfully, they were given a chance.