‘M*A*S*H’ Writer Ken Levine Once Revealed Hilarious Way Show Picked Names for Characters

by Chris Haney
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What do you do when you’re the writer of a hit TV sitcom and need to come up with new names for the show’s characters? Just name them after your favorite baseball team‘s players. That’s what the writers of M*A*S*H did at least.

While speaking on his podcast Hollywood and Levine earlier this year, M*A*S*H writer Ken Levine opened up about the amusing way they chose character’s names. When you often have multiple new characters involved in each episode, it can be difficult to come up with fresh names all the time.

By the seventh season of M*A*S*H‘s 11-season run, Levine and the other writers were running out of ideas. That’s when they decided to utilize the roster of the 1978 Los Angeles Dodgers.

“For the seventh season, we just used the 1978 Los Angeles Dodgers roster,” Levine hilariously explains on his podcast. “When you watch those shows you’ll find private Garvey, Cey, Russell, Sutton, Rau, Rhoden, etc. By the end of the season we were down to coaches, announcers (Scully), and even the owner, O’Malley.”

The show also had another connection to professional baseball, albeit the minor leagues. Jamie Farr, who played the cross-dressing Max Klinger on M*A*S*H, is from Toledo, Ohio. When he wasn’t wearing dresses or trying to prove he was crazy so he could get discharged, he often wore a Toledo Mud Hens uniform and hat on the show. According to Farr himself, fans thought the Mud Hens were a fictional team.

“They thought it was a mythical team until they did some research and found, oh, there really is a Mud Hens team. Then they started ordering things from them,” Farr said to SportsLogos.Net. “I’ll be places around the world and somebody will come up to me and say, ‘Hey, Mud Hens!'”

‘M*A*S*H’ Star Jamie Farr Explains Why He Always Looks Like the ‘Happiest Man in the World’

During a 1995 interview, a reporter asked Farr about his cheery disposition. The M*A*S*H actor explained why he’s happy to wake up each day and keeps a constant smile on his face.

“Well, I don’t know. I never met the second happiest man or the first happiest man. So I can’t judge where I fall into that category,” Farr joked. “But, there was a line, I think it comes from (the movie) Auntie Mame. ‘Life is a banquet and some poor suckers are starving to death.’ That really is basically it. I think it’s great.”

Farr then shared a story about an old friend in his hometown of Toledo. He says her words have stuck with him for decades.

“I remember, there’s this Lebanese lady that I dearly loved who raised 13 children back in Toledo and she retired in Phoenix, Arizona. My wife and I used to visit her quite often,” the M*A*S*H star explained. “She said, ‘you know, I get up every morning and say ‘Thank you, God.’ I do the same thing now. There are so many people in my life that are passing away, and you realize, ‘Oh my goodness. I haven’t spent time with them. I haven’t shared some moments.’”

In addition, the actor shared some perspective on valuing the time you still have while alive.

“You accumulate a great deal of acquaintances and friendships over the years. And you just can’t always spend as much time as you would like …,” he said. “Sometimes you get a call and, gee, an uncle passed away that you really liked. Or a cousin or somebody else. So each day becomes a little more precious than the day that preceded it.”

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