The classic and long-running American television series M*A*S*H drew the attention of audiences with it’s massive ensemble. Of the course of eleven seasons, the show had a rotating cast of characters, headed by Alan Alda’s Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce. In addition to the many actors that came and went from the show over the course of it’s run. The program also played host to numerous guest stars. Some of these guest stars went on to become Hollywood players in their own right. Join Facts Verse as we take a look at famous actors that you forgot guest star on M*A*S*H.
Running from 1972 to 1983, the American television series M*A*S*H inspired by Robert Atlman’s 1970 film of the same name. The film was based on a 1968 novel by Richard Hooker and followed a medical unit in the Korean War. The ensemble cast headed by Donald Sutherland’s Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce. This character carried over to the show, though Donald Sutherland replaced with Alan Alda for availability reasons. The show became an even bigger success than the film and novel that preceded it. Becoming the first piece of media that most people think of when they hear the name M*A*S*H.
Alan Alda’s memorable turn as Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce held the show together over the course of it’s eleven season. With Alan Alda the sole cast member featured in all 256 episodes of the show. However, the show took advantage of a rotating ensemble cast. And struck a chord with audiences due to it’s constantly changing surplus of memorable characters. While series regulars played many of these characters, guest stars played others. Some of these guest stars went on to bigger and better things. And many likely don’t even realize all of the many famous guest stars that were on the show at one point or another!
The first famous guest star that we’ll be taking a look at it is Leslie Nielsen. Of course, Leslie Nielsen best known for his roles in the Zucker Brothers’ comedy films. Including the hit blockbuster action spoof Airplane. Years before appearing in that classic parody, Leslie guest starred in the M*A*S*H episode “The Ringbanger”. In the episode, Leslie portrayed a solider with a particularly high casualty count that Hawkeye is working to have removed from the field.
Next, let’s take a look at Bruno Kirby’s incredibly short-lived time on M*A*S*H. Bruno could only seen in the pilot episode of the program and not heard. As his character given no spoken dialogue. However, his character given a name, and that name Pvt. Lorenzo Boone. Although Bruno criminally under-used in M*A*S*H’s pilot. He has put to much better use in his numerous feature film roles since. Bruno can seen, and plentifully heard, in such hit films as City Slickers and Modern Romance.
After Bruno, let’s take a look at the legendary comedic actress Teri Garr. The actress worked as a dancer in her teenage years, making a few appearances in Elvis Presley films. Throughout the 1970s, her star began to rise. With her appearing in both Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein and Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation. A few years later, she could seen in Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind, taking on a more dramatic role.
During this period, Teri also made two appearances on M*A*S*H, playing the character of Lt. Suzanne Marquette. She made an appearance in the second season episode “The Sniper”. She then came back a few years later to appear in the seventh season episode “Our Finest Hour”. During the 1980s, she appeared alongside Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie, alongside Michael Keaton in Mr. Mom. And became part of the star-studded ensemble in Martin Scorsese’s cult comedy film After Hours.
One of the biggest that appeared as a guest star on M*A*S*H over the course of it’s eleven seasons was Ron Howard. While Ron perhaps best known for his directorial efforts nowadays. Including such major blockbuster hits as A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13, and the recent Solo: A Star Wars Story. Ron simply known as a television actor during the 1970s. The actor had grown up in the spotlight on The Andy Griffith Show before making a name for himself on Happy Days. However, he also appeared in an episode of M*A*S*H titled “Sometimes You Hear the Bullet”.
In “Sometimes You Hear the Bullet”, Ron Howard appears as an underage solider that manages to trick his way into action by pretending to be older than he is. The reason that he cons his way into the army is to impress a girl that he has a crush on back home. Despite reprimanding him for his lies, Hawkeye proves to be sympathetic of the young man’s plight. He steals a Purple Heart from another soldier to give Ron’s character as a consolation prize before sending him back home. If you’re enjoying this video so far, be sure to hit the like button to show your support!
Ron Howard isn’t the only other major television star to have appeared on M*A*S*H shortly before taking a star-making role on another sitcom. Shelley Long appeared in an episode of the show as a nurse accompanying Hawkeye on a date. Only two years later, Shelley became one of the main characters on the television show Cheers. A job that turned her into one of the biggest stars on television. From there, Shelley appeared in several Hollywood feature films, including a memorable turn as the matriarch of the Brady family in 1995’s The Brady Bunch Movie.
Another icon that appeared on M*A*S*H before striking it big on cinema screens is Noriyuki Morita. Most famous for playing the character of Mr. Miyagi in the franchise The Karate Kid. Several years before 1984’s The Karate Kid released in theaters. Noriyuki, or “Pat” as he is sometimes known professionally. Played a South Korean doctor in two episodes of M*A*S*H’s second season.
After Ron Howard and Shelley Long, another television legend that appeared on M*A*S*H early in his career as a guest star was John Ritter. Of course, John Ritter is best known for his role in the sitcom Three’s Company. Where he starred alongside Suzanne Somers. Soon before appearing in that seminal sitcom. John appeared in the M*A*S*H episode “Deal Me Out” as a wounded soldier with no intentions of ever seeing action again after he heals.
Dirty Dancing’s Patrick Swayze also appeared on M*A*S*H as a guest star, playing a terminally ill solider in the episode “Blood Brothers”. In the episode, Patrick’s character has Leukemia. Though that doesn’t stop him from missing an important medical treatment in order to stay by the side of an injured comrade. The episode proved a rare emotional moment for the sitcom, thanks in no small part to Patrick’s performance. Though he’s not well known at the time, his performance certainly left an impression on audiences.
Famous Hollywood character actor James Cromwell also made an appearance on M*A*S*H as a guest star during a period where he was relatively unknown. Appearing much younger than most audiences will likely remember him, a young James appeared in an episode titled “Last Laugh”. His character is a soldier with a penchant for playing practical jokes, which gets him in trouble with the rest of the camp. Since appearing on the show, the actor went on to have a modest career in Hollywood films. Including the hit Star Trek: First Contact and the box-office busting talking pig movie Babe.
Another prolific character actor that made an appearance on M*A*S*H Ed Begley Jr. He appeared in the episode “Too Many Cooks”, which the premiere episode of the show’s eighth season. Ed had played many roles on both film and television before making his appearance on M*A*S*H. Including a small role on the show Happy Days. However, his most memorable roles came a few years later, with notable turns in the films An Officer and a Gentleman, This Is Spinal Tap, and She-Devil.
Next, let’s take a look at two actors that appeared together in the hit blockbuster film The Matrix nearly two decades after separately appearing on M*A*S*H. Both Joe Pantoliano and Laurence Fishburne made appearances on M*A*S*H over the course of it’s eleven seasons. Though Keanu Reeves was only a teenager at the time. Both Joe Pantoliano and Laurence Fishburne are characters actors that have appeared in a huge number of films and television programs besides their notable roles in The Matrix. And their appearance on M*A*S*H shows the dedication to their craft that allowed them to become the big names they are.
Joe plays a soldier who steals another soldier’s dog tags in an attempt to get sent home before his time is up in an episode titled “Identity Crisis”. While Laurence appeared in the racially charged episode “The Tooth Shall Set You Free”. That episode centered on a commander who always sends black soldiers out first because he doesn’t think their lives are as valuable as other races. Around the same time he appeared on M*A*S*H. Laurence could also seen in another iconic piece of war media. that Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 masterpiece Apocalypse Now.
Many other famous actors appeared on M*A*S*H over the course of it’s original run. Including Andrew Dice Clay, George Wendt, Brian Dennehy, Rita Wilson, and Jeffrey Tambor. Andrew Dice Clay appeared in the final season of the show. Playing a marine in the Halloween episode “Trick or Treatment”. George Wendt also made an appearance in that same episode.
Brian Dennehy appeared in a season five episode. While Rita Wilson appeared in both season ten and season eleven over the course of two separate episodes. Finally, Jeffrey Tambor could be seen in the third episode of the eleventh and final season. Playing the character of Major Reddish.
There are certainly other notable celebrities that appeared as guest stars on M*A*S*H over the course of the show’s many seasons. Including some that you may recognize from other hit pieces of media. Comment down below to share if you think there’s an actor or actress that belonged on this list. Or if you’re surprised to learn that any of the above stars appeared on M*A*S*H early on in their careers. As always, like this video to show your support, and subscribe and hit the notification bell if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!