Before Harry Morgan assumed the role of Colonel Potter, he had already starred in films such as High Noon and Thunder Bay. He also dabbled in radio, hosting Mystery In The Air. Morgan’s opportunity to join the M*A*S*H cast came during the show’s third season, following McLean Stevenson’s untimely departure. He was as thrilled as you might imagine.
Harry Morgan got so captivated by M*A*S*H that he brought a framed photo of his wife, Eileen, to display on his character’s desk. Eileen actually played the role of Mildred, Morgan’s character’s fictional wife.
To Laugh Or Not To Laugh
The use (or misuse) of the laugh track mechanism wasn’t such a laughing matter when the M*A*S*H series was initially shot. In fact, CBS made it clear that its use was not merely a matter of choice, but mandatory.
This put the actors and producers in a quandary, especially for scenes in operating rooms where doctors are dealing with a patient’s guts. Some viewers found it annoying, while the network wanted to use it along with a live audience to serve as a cue for them to react accordingly to any laughing matters. Like all disputes between cooler heads, they came to an agreement and today’s DVD versions have an option to toggle the laugh track on or off.
Wanted- Korean Actors
As much as the creative minds behind M*A*S*H had wanted to portray every single detail of the show with authenticity, there was nothing much they could do with regard to one aspect: the absolute shortage of Korean actors.
To make up for this void, they ended up choosing from among a line of Asian actors, the closest they could get to fill the role of a Korean. They came up with a list that consisted of a Chinese-American, Japanese, and Japanese-American, all signed up to play the single role. Only one real Korean national was ever tapped for the Korean role.
The pilot episode was worked out by Larry Gelbart, writing it enthusiastically for only two days. He was responsible for developing the series from the 1970 film M*A*S*H, and for his two days’ worth of work, he got paid a massive $25,000 which would still be impressive by today’s standards.
While the TV execs were impressed, the novel’s author and the movie’s director were at creative odds with the show. They both felt it softened the anti-war and anti-authoritarian spirit of the earlier works and were unhappy with its adaptation.
Alda- The Man Of The Hour
Alan Alda’s name is bound to pop up excessively in any discussion of the M*A*S*H TV series, particularly on the topic of its success. This was Alda’s time to shine as an actor, an opportunity he never shied away from. But Alda was eager to try out different production roles, sometimes simultaneously working as director, writer, and actor for a single episode.
Alda wrote a total of 13 episodes and directed 31, becoming the first person to ever win an Emmy Award for each of the various functions he performed. Thanks to the series, Alan Alda was able to showcase his fleet of talents to the world.