‘M*A*S*H’: Why the Cast Hardly Wore Boots While Filming

by Clayton Edwards
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M*A*S*H was unquestionably one of the biggest shows of its era. The mixture of its wartime setting, social commentary, and black comedy made it perfect for the time. The show premiered during the last years of the Vietnam War. That conflict was incredibly controversial in America. However, viewers on both sides of the argument could find something that they enjoyed in the series.

M*A*S*H was so popular, in fact, that its finale broke television viewership records. Before that, the highest-rated TV episode was the episode of Dallas in which audiences learned who shot J.R. To clarify, that episode aired after eight months of nationwide hype.

Another thing that made M*A*S*H a hit was the balance that it struck. It walked the line between gritty wartime realism and absurd humor. From Hawkeye performing the first open-heart surgery in a military outpost to Klinger dressing like a woman to try to escape his service, the show covered a wide variety of topics and attitudes.

For all the realism on M*A*S*H, there was one thing that was very different from an actual mobile Army surgical hospital unit. That was the choice of footwear.

The Cast of M*A*S*H Hardly Wore Boots

There are several reasons that the cast hardly wore boots, according to History 101. For one, military boots aren’t made for comfort. The cast of M*A*S*H didn’t need the foot protection provided by the boots. So, there wasn’t much reason for the characters to wear boots.

However, comfort wasn’t the main reason that the M*A*S*H cast didn’t wear boots often. The main reason for the lack of regulation footwear was related to the production of the show. The hard soles of boots are loud. The production would have suffered due to the volume of the cast’s footsteps if they would have all worn boots constantly.

They got around this with some clever camera-work. M*A*S*H camera operators frequently shot the cast from the waist up. This allowed them to wear sneakers. It kept the cast comfortable and their feet quiet. However, sometimes, characters had to have their whole bodies in a shot. For those scenes, they would wear boots. Then, they would change back into their sneakers. This allowed the cast to appear authentic in longer shots. At the same time, it kept them from ruining the sound engineering in indoor scenes or other scenes in which boot soles would have been too loud.

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