‘M*A*S*H’: The Cast Really Buried a Time Capsule, Here’s What Happened to It

by Suzanne Halliburton
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M*A*S*H fans might remember a certain episode about a time capsule. The episode was called As Time Goes By. And it actually was the last one ever filmed.

In order, though, the episode was the penultimate one of the iconic series. It led to the buildup to the M*A*S*H series finale, Good-bye, Amen and Farewell. It was the 256th overall episode of the 11-year run of the show. On Feb. 28, 1983, more than 105 million Americans watched the finale. It still is the most viewed scripted drama series episode in television history.

NEW YORK – FEBRUARY 26: CBS Television advertisement as appeared in the February 26, 1983 issue of TV Guide magazine. An ad for the final episode of M*A*S*H (MASH), which broadcast on Monday, February 28, 1983. Featuring William Christopher, Mike Farrell, Loretta Swit, Alan Alda, David Ogden Stiers, Harry Morgan and Jamie Farr. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)

Episode Before M*A*S*H Finale Gave Cast Capsule Idea

But the episode before, the characters on M*A*S*H wanted to create a time capsule and leave it buried in Korea. Major “Hot Lips” Houlihan was the driver behind the capsule. She wanted to honor the 4077th before everyone left. Hawkeye Pierce joins the project, but he wants to make sure more than just the Army is represented in the capsule. Eventually, there is a Houlihan capsule and Hawkeye’s version, which represents the malcontents.

Houlihan and Hawkeye decided to merge items. Houlihan takes Radar’s teddy bear. Hawkeye said it could stand for the soldiers who come to the war as boys and leave as men. She puts a fan belt from a helicopter in there, too. There also was a fishing lure belonging to Henry Blake.

The lure represents the men and women who never made it home. Father Mulcahy gave Houlihan some boxing gloves. He said whoever finds the capsule should be encouraged to use the gloves rather than fight a real war. Houlihan also adds a bottle of cognac. And Klinger — this is M*A*S*H, after all — adds a little black dress.

The idea was that the capsule would stay buried for a century.

Did you know that sometimes art dictates life? The cast thought a capsule was such a good idea that they wanted to make one as the show left the air. They gathered a bunch of props and costumes, hoping they’d stay in the ground for 100 years. The cast buried it in a secret ceremony and told no one where it was. It was presumed to be in the 20th Century Fox parking lot.

Here’s where it got weird. Parts of the property were sold. And the capsule was believed to be under a Marriott Hotel.

But What Happened to the Capsule?

Meanwhile, members of the International Time Capsule Society, in conjunction with Oglethorpe University, created a list of the top 10 coolest buried containers. The M*A*S*H time capsule was one of them.

But the M*A*S*H capsule didn’t have a cool ending. It stayed buried for weeks, then a construction worker found it.

Alan Alda, who played Hawkeye, wrote about the capsule in his book, Never Have Your Dog Stuffed And Other Things I Learned. According to Alda, the construction worker tried to return the capsule. Alda said he could keep it.

Thirty eight years later, someone now has some cool souvenirs.

Outsider.com