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MASH T.V. Show Premiers


MASH was an extremely popular TV series, which first aired on CBS on September 17, 1972. Based on the real experiences of a surgeon in the Korean War, the series centered upon the interrelationships, stresses, and trauma involved in being in a MASH unit. MASH's final episode, which aired on February 28, 1983, had the largest audience of any single TV episode in U.S. history.

The Book and Movie

The concept of the MASH storyline was thought up by Dr. Richard Hornberger. Under the pseudonym "Richard Hooker," Dr. Hornberger wrote the book MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors (1968) which was based on his own experiences as a surgeon in the Korean War. In 1970, the book was turned into a movie, also called MASH, which was directed by Robert Altman and starred Donald Sutherland as "Hawkeye" Pierce and Elliot Gould as "Trapper John" McIntyre.

The MASH TV Show

With nearly an entirely new cast, the same MASH characters from the book and movie first appeared on television screens in 1972. This time, Alan Alda played "Hawkeye" Pierce and Wayne Rogers played "Trapper John" McIntyre. Other memorable characters include Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan (Loretta Swit), Maxwell Q. Klinger (Jamie Farr), B.J. Hunnicut (Mike Farrell), and Walter "Radar" O'Reilly (Gary Burghoff).

The Plot

The general plot of MASH revolves around army doctors who are stationed at the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) of the United States Army, located in the village of Uijeongbu just north of Seoul in South Korea during the Korean War. Most of the episodes of the MASH television series ran for half an hour and had multiple story lines, often with one being humorous and another being serious.

The Final MASH Show

Although the real Korean War ran only three years (1950-1953), the MASH series ran for eleven (1972-1983). After 250 episodes, "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen," the final MASH television show, aired on February 28, 1983. On that night, 77 percent of American TV viewers watched the two-and-a-half-hour special, which was the largest audience to ever watch a single episode of a television show.
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