Many don’t think of “M*A*S*H” when they see the signpost around. But the one from the classic TV show made it into the National Museum of American History. Why? Because the iconic prop is instantly recognizable
“M*A*S*H” ran from 1972-1983 and left us with plenty of iconic moments. But compared to the signpost, none of the images do a better job of reminding you that you’re with the 4077th.
The show was set during the Korean War. It followed the events that took place at an army field hospital. And it dealt with everything. It touched on the serious themes of war by having the characters use comedy to cope.
One of the ways they coped with being in Korea was through the signpost. The locations on each sign represented the characters’ hometowns.
The signs pointed to distant places, no matter how far they were or in which direction. And when the show finally came to an end, all of the characters took the signpost apart in celebration of going home.
But while the show was still going, the signpost changed a few times. And it changed in more ways than one.
Not only did the locations change, the signpost itself was replaced.
The ‘M*A*S*H’ Signposts’ Journey
There were a total of three signposts used on the show. Originally, two were built because the show was filmed on two different sets. One was on a soundstage, and the other at Fox Ranch in the Santa Monica Mountains.
Unfortunately, one of the originals was destroyed in a fire that swept through the ranch in 1982. And they created a third one to replace it.
After “M*A*S*H” concluded in 1983, Twentieth Century Fox donated one of the two signs to the National Museum of American History.
The other one fell into the hands of set decorator Bert F. Allen. Eventually, it ended up at a 2005 Profiles In History auction, where it sold for $25,000.
Dedicated fans have created their own impressive versions of the signpost over the years. Everything from desktop-sized signposts to full-sized replicas have been photographed.
All the love for the signpost speaks to how effective it was as a device on the show.