One of the longest running television shows in history, MASH ran from September 1972 to February 1983, with the final episode setting a new record when watched by over one hundred million viewers. Mash was based on the 1970 movie by the same name which itself was based on a 1968 novel. MASH, as in Mobile Army Surgical Hospital, was a dramatic comedy held together by it’s lead character called Hawkeye Pierce, played by great actor Alan Alda, who wrote and directed some of the episodes and earned him 4 Emmys.
Supporting actors included Gary Burghoff as Radar O’ Reilly and Loretta Swit as ” Hot Lips ” Margaret Houlihan.. Other supporting cast members were Larry Linville as Frank Burns, a clueless uppity married doctor who was having an affair with Hot Lips Houlihan, and was often the target of pranks by Hawkeye and fellow doctor nicknamed Trapper, played by Wayne Rogers for 3 seasons. Another great comedic performance was by actor Jamie Farr, who was constantly trying to get himself kicked out of the army by pulling some crossdressing antic. Farr as Klinger stayed for the entire mash run, as did Radar and Hot Lips.
MASH, set at the 4077Th MASH unit in Korea, was a blend of crazy zany comedy in midst of a bloody war, that would switch without warning to the aiding of incoming wounded is what set the program apart, with often tense situations depicting doctors working hard to save lives with limited resources in wartime conditions close to the front, sometimes to no avail. A particular achievement is the longevity of MASH considering the show was stuck in the Korean conflict the entire time.
The fact that Korean war based MASH was showing parallel to real time footage of the Viet Nam war that was winding down during the initial years of the show definitely helped attain high ratings.
The indoor filming on MASH was done at stage #9 20Th Century Fox, and external shots at the 20Th Century Fox ranch in the Santa Monica mountains, which today is the Malibu Creek State Park.