One of the most popular TV characters of all time is Walter “Radar” O’Reilly. Throughout the span of M*A*S*H, viewers saw Gary Burghoff’s character, Radar, transform from a naive 18-year-old who was drafted with his teddy bear by his side into the unifying force of the 4077th. Everyone looked up to him and confided in him, and he became a trusted guide for many, even as he learned from them. However, his appearances began to dwindle after the sixth season, and by the eighth, he was completely absent. Join FactsVerse as we provide you with everything there is to know about Gary Burghoff’s departure from M*A*S*H
The original source material for the show M*A*S*H was a novel written by Richard Hooker, who drew inspiration from his time as a doctor in Korea. The novel was then turned into a film that Robert Altman directed, which was followed by the creation of a television series based on the story. In its early years, M*A*S*H was actually a comedic show, replete with a laugh track despite the serious subject matter. Soon after, it began to take on the characteristics of a dramedy, exploring problems like trauma, racism, and homophobia long before they were typically addressed in television shows. Hawkeye Pierce, played by Alan Alda, was the series’ protagonist and remains his most celebrated role to this day. Fans also cheered for other characters, like Wayne Rogers’ Trapper and Loretta Swit’s Major “Hot Lips” Houlihan. Another one was Corporal “Radar” O’Reilly (Gary Burghoff), who got his nickname because he could always seem to sense when his superior officer needed him, despite having a normal human hearing. Radar’s childlike naivete served as a refreshing contrast to the more jaded 4077th veterans.
Gary Burghoff Connected The MASH Movie & Show
Burghoff is the only actor to portray the same part in both the series and the M*A*S*H movie, despite other actors from the film having cameo appearances on the show. However, there are discrepancies among his depictions. Although the actor first brought Radar’s darker, more opportunistic tone from Altman’s M*A*S*H to the program, he ultimately chose to make the TV version of the character more naïve.
Despite Burghoff’s nearly 30 years of age, Radar on the show was written to be around the age of 18. Even though Burghoff’s youthful appearance helped cover this, the receding hairline was noticeable even in the final episode of M*A*S*H, “Good-Bye Radar,” so he ultimately put on the hat he wore throughout the series. For Burghoff, this was an ideal way to illustrate the transformation of the protagonist from a young kid into a mature man throughout the course of the war.
Why Gary walked away from the show.
In the program, there was a close call with Radar’s departure from the 4077th. Episodes 4 and 5 of Season 8 were a two-parter titled “Goodbye Radar,” in which the corporal discovers that his uncle has passed away. Colonel Potter (Harry Morgan) made provisions for him to receive a hardship discharge because he knew it would put his mother in a difficult position of having to take care of the family farm by herself.
Yet, Radar didn’t think he could abandon the unit when it was having such a hard time without a generator. Despite Potter and Hawkeye’s (Alan Alda) best efforts, he didn’t believe them when they said they’d be OK without him. It wasn’t until he saw Klinger (Jamie Farr) bring in a new generator that he acknowledged they’d be fine without him. After entrusting Hawkeye with his beloved teddy bear, he decided to return to his native state of Iowa.
After taking a long break from the show, Burghoff ultimately decided to quit. His absence from multiple episodes in Season 6 was first attributed to exhaustion, but it has since been theorized that the real reason was that he was universally despised by his co-stars and was notoriously challenging to deal with.
The director even claimed to have tried to persuade him to return to “Goodbye Radar,” a two-part episode in which he had previously appeared after leaving “M*A*S*H” for good a season earlier. When pressed for the real reason Burghoff departed the performance, Dubin said that Burghoff just couldn’t go on. He said that Burghoff had cried during the filming of “Goodbye Radar” and that he had to take a 15-minute break to stroll Burghoff around the Fox backlot.
During the interview, when asked if Burghoff might have been sad because it was his last episode of the long-running CBS comedy, Rubin said it wasn’t the whole story.
The general explanation for Burghoff’s departure during the eighth season of M*A*S*H was that he was tired of the show’s schedule and missed spending time with his family. In the show, Radar’s departure was explained by the fact that he was given a hardship discharge so he could return to the family farm and support his mother after his uncle died.
Gary’s decision to leave M*A*S*H was difficult, but in the end, he chose to prioritize his family over his career. Filmmaker Charles S. Dubin claims there were many factors at play in Gary’s departure. According to a series of interviews Charles gave to the Television Academy Foundation about M*A*S*H, Burghoff departed the show not because he felt mistreated but because he believed he wasn’t getting his full obligations. On the other hand, he said there was more to Gary’s departure than that.
However, Burt Metcalfe claims that throughout the years, Gary also had trouble performing on set. He had terrible trouble falling asleep, which made him frequently late for work. Also, he thought Burghoff wasn’t enjoying himself as much as the other cast members and that the actor was itching to try something new.
Radar’s failed MASH Spinoff.
Gary Burghoff didn’t do much acting after leaving M*A*S*H and didn’t come back until the sequels. He appeared in two episodes of the spinoff series AfterMASH as a guest star.
There was also talk of creating a spinoff series starring Radar as a police officer called W*A*L*T*E*R. W*A*L*T*E*R was supposed to kick off a new series, but it bombed as well. Despite filming a pilot, CBS ultimately decided not to acquire the show.
There were two spinoffs made after the final episode of M*A*S*H. The characters of Colonel Potter, Klinger, and Father Mulcahy were followed through their transition to civilian life over the course of two seasons on AfterMASH. Whereas Trapper John M.D., a long-running medical drama, continued to follow its namesake character long after the war ended. The show’s creators, however, insisted that it was inspired by the book rather than the M*A*S*H TV series. AfterMASH may have done well in the ratings at first, but it was universally panned by critics and is widely regarded as the worst spinoff ever made.
Gary Burghoff turned down millions when M*A*S*H begged him to come back.
The producers of M*A*S*H were devastated when Burghoff abruptly left the show in 1979, and the series continued on without Radar. After just two days without Radar, they returned with cash in hand, hoping to find the appropriate price to keep Radar, proving how serious they were about luring Burghoff back to the show. The Tribune reports that Warner Bros. promised Burghoff a $4 million contract to come back.
Perhaps you’re curious as to how 1979’s $4 million looked to a TV star. Let’s be clear: Even if Burghoff had agreed, he still wouldn’t have been getting that Hawkeye money, but he would have been among the top three highest-paid TV performers on television in 1980.
The Argus-Leader stated in 1980 that Alan Alda was the highest-paid TV actor of all time, making $5.6 million per season on M*A*S*H (including his earnings as a writer). But in that year alone, Alda made $5.4 million just for playing Hawkeye.
Carroll O’Connor, who starred in Archie Bunker’s Place, made $4.8 million, making him the second highest-paid TV actor.
If Burghoff had returned to M*A*S*H, he would have made $4 million, which would have put him in second place behind O’Connor but ahead of Michael Landon ($3.8 million for Little House on the Prairie) and Larry Hagman ($2.4 million for playing J.R. Ewing on Dallas).
Burghoff was not interested in receiving a higher salary, which was disappointing news for Radar’s closest allies and a crushing blow to Warner Bros.
At that moment, all Burghoff wanted was to surround himself with the good things that make life worth living: close friends, a strong religion, and a return to one’s roots. Just like the countless other guest actors we saw on M*A*S*H, that meant he had to say goodbye.
Eight things you never noticed in the M*A*S*H episode ”Good-Bye, Radar.”
As far as TV series finales go, “Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen” stands alone as the best. This isn’t the only emotional farewell in M*A*S*H. Beginning with Henry Blake’s startling exit, the show displayed a strong reputation for goodbyes.
Similarly, the closing episodes featuring Gary Burghoff and his beloved character Radar, titled “Good-Bye, Radar,” always manage to bring tears to our eyes.
The first half of the story aired at the start of the eighth season, which was supposed to be the final episode for season seven. For the Fall ’79 season, the network made a deal with Burghoff to have him return for the remainder of the season, at least through sweeps. Listed here are some tidbits of information about “Goodbye Radar” that you might have missed.
First and foremost, Radar’s head is no longer in the opening scene.
Every episode of M*A*S*H’s first seven seasons began with a helicopter landing in the mountains. Considering his name, it should come as no surprise that Radar is the first to pick him up. The initial photo was of Gary Burghoff’s back, which seemed appropriate given the context of the show. Since Burghoff’s departure from the show was announced at the start of the eighth season, the opening was made without his head. Additionally, his opening credit was changed to “Also Starring Gary Burghoff as Radar” in the episodes leading up to “Good-Bye, Radar,” episode eight.
Secondly, the episode was Zelmo Zale’s final episode.
In “Good-Bye, Radar,” farewells were not limited to Radar. A veteran of the 4077th, Sergeant Zelmo Zale was played by Johnny Haymer, who debuted in Season 2 and was last seen in “Good-Bye, Radar: Part 1.” The electrician’s side story in “Good-Bye, Radar” is largely around his time spent operating the generator. Perhaps once the power went out in the building, he gave up and went for a swim. Just saying.
Ultimately, Burghoff decided to finally take his trademark cap off.
Ken Levine admitted that the iconic headgear worn by Radar proved to be a stumbling block during the filming process. While shooting, Gary made up his mind that he wouldn’t need his hat. This developed into a major problem as producers claimed he stopped looking like a kid the moment he took off the hat and started looking like a balding man who had suddenly aged ten years. However, Gary argued that it signified the character’s transition from being a kid into a mature man through the course of the war.
There you have it. It’s now time to hear from you. Do you think Warner Bros really offered Gary a 4 million dollar contract just to return to the show? And if they did, why would Gary turn down such a contract? Lets know your thoughts.