Actor Dick O’Neill, who played three different roles on “M*A*S*H,” found himself in an interesting role on ABC’s “Home Improvement.”
In an episode called “That’s My Momma” from the show’s fifth season, O’Neill plays Tim Taylor’s former tool shop teacher Art Leonard. He ends up meeting Tim’s mom Lucille Taylor, played by Bonnie Bartlett, and they hit it off.
This doesn’t sit well with Tim, played by Tim Allen, because he does not want to talk with his mom. Especially about emotional issues that have to do with mother and son. Leonard appeared as a recurring character on the sitcom between 1994-96.
‘M*A*S*H’ Actor Appears In Three Different Roles On TV Show
O’Neill ended up being a part of three “M*A*S*H” episodes during his lengthy career. He first appeared as Admiral Cox in the episode “38 Across.” Second, he was Brig. Gen. Marion Prescott in “B.J. Papa San.” Finally, O’Neill played Col. Pitts in “Sons and Bowlers.”
Beyond “M*A*S*H,” he appeared in numerous TV shows like “Car 54, Where Are You?”, “The Jackie Gleason Show,” “Good Times,” “Kojak,” “Barney Miller,” and “One Day at a Time.” He also played Charlie Cagney in the popular CBS cop drama “Cagney & Lacey.”
His movie appearances included “The Front Page,” “The Buddy Holly Story,” “The Jerk,” and “Prizzi’s Honor.”
O’Neill, who was born in New York City, died on Nov. 17, 1998, of heart failure in Los Angeles at 70 years old. He left behind a wife, Susan, and three children.
Writers For War-Based Comedy Would Find Themselves Battling Censors
Television history is strewn with stories about show’s writers going back and forth with network censors. “M*A*S*H” faced similar problems during its run.
Alan Alda, Ken Levine, and Dan Wilcox shared their experiences around the show and dealing with CBS’s Standards and Practices Department. Alda also played Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce on the show. They spoke at length during a 2018 interview with The Hollywood Reporter.
“I wrote an episode where Margaret (Houlihan, played by Loretta Swit) sees a jockstrap on the table and starts going nuts,” Alda said. “‘How dare you parade that thing before me?’ Standards and practices said we couldn’t show a jockstrap.”
Alda said he “got really angry” since previous “M*A*S*H” episodes displayed brassieres and panties. “Hawkeye had walked through a clothesline and had them slapping him in the face,” he said. “Is there something holy about the male genitalia? They never gave a reason why. They just stuck to it.”
Writing for TV shows isn’t always as glamorous as it appears to be. Just ask these three men.