This television series, set during the Korean War, lasted eleven seasons. The actual Korean War lasted only three years.
"M*A*S*H" stands for Mobile Army Surgical Hospital.
While most of the characters from the movie carried over to the series, only three actors appeared in both: Gary Burghoff (Radar O'Reilly) and G. Wood (General Hammond) reprized their movie roles in the series (though Wood appeared in only three episodes). Timothy Brown (credited as "Tim Brown") played "Cpl. Judson" in the movie and Spearchucker Jones in series.
Tom Skerritt was approached to reprise his role as Duke Forrest on the series but he declined, because he felt a TV version of the movie would be unsuccessful.
Radar's teddy bear, once housed at the Smithsonian, was sold at auction July 29, 2005, for $11,800. (It was originally found on the Fox Ranch, where the series was filmed, and became part of the show.)
On Sesame Street, Big Bird's teddy bear is named Radar. This is in homage to Radar O'Reilly's teddy bear.
Jamie Farr and Alan Alda were the only two cast members to have actually served in the US Army in Korea. Both of them did their tours of duty after the 1953 cease fire.
McLean Stevenson, who played Lt. Col. Henry Blake, died of a heart attack on 15 February 1996. The next day, 16 February, Roger Bowen, who played Lt. Col. Henry Blake in the movie, died of the same cause.
Gary Burghoff's left hand is slightly deformed, and he took great pains to hide or de-emphasize it during filming. He did this by always holding something (like a clipboard), or keeping that hand in his pocket.
The filming location for the exteriors of the 4077 M*A*S*H camp is today known as Malibu Creek State Park in Malibu, California. Formerly called the Fox Ranch, and owned by 20th Century Fox Studios until the 1980s, the site today (early 2001) is overgrown with foliage, and marked by a rusted Jeep and an ambulance used in the show, as well as a small sign. The state park is open to the public. It was also the location where How Green Was My Valley and the Planet of the Apes TV series were filmed.
When the series was first going into production, the network wanted a laugh track (a sitcom staple), while the show's producers didn't. They compromised with a "chuckle track", played only occasionally. (DVD releases of the series mostly allow viewers a no-laugh-track option.) However, even the "chuckle track" -- it was agreed upon by all involved in the discussion -- would not ever be used during the scenes in the surgical tent.
When the series was shown in the UK, it didn't have a laugh track. Once, the BBC left, it switched on by mistake and received a number of complaints that the intrusive canned laughter spoilt the show's atmosphere.
Alan Alda had a running guest appearance on the TV show ER in which he plays Dr. Gabriel Lawrence, who reminisces about being a doctor in a war.
There was one nude scene throughout the entire series. It occurred during the "The Sniper". When Radar was running outside wearing only a towel and the sniper is firing at him, he runs back into the showers at which point, the towel he was wearing was rigged to fall off. This was director Jackie Cooper's idea and only one frame was left in for the effect.
The ubiquitous helicopters were military versions of the Bell 47. In the real Korean War, the OH-13s evacuated 80% of American casualties. (Roads in Korea were primitive, and often treacherous, so helicopters were favored over ambulances.) The OH-13 was responsible for saving over 18,000 lives during the Korean war, a historical fact still taught today at the air assault school at Fort Campbell, KY - home of the 101st airborne division.
Klinger was only going to appear in one episode. However, he proved so popular that he became a regular.
Both Major Margaret Houlihan and Cpl. Max Klinger were married (Margaret in person, Klinger over the phone) and divorced during their service at the 4077th. They shared the same wedding dress.
The 4077th actually consisted of two separate sets. An outdoor set, located in the mountains near Malibu, California, was used for all exterior and tent scenes for the first few seasons. The indoor set, located on a sound stage at Fox studios, was used for the indoor scenes for the run of the series. Later, after the indoor set was renovated to permit many of the "outdoor" scenes to be filmed there, both sets were used for exterior shooting as script requirements dictated (for example, night scenes were far easier to film on the sound stage, but scenes at the chopper pad required using the ranch).
Hawkeye hated guns, and never carried a sidearm when he was Officer of the Day, despite Army regulations. Col. Potter insisted Hawkeye carry (then later fire) a pistol when they visited an aid station. Hawkeye reluctantly complied, shouting warnings and firing into the air.
The show was created after an attempt to film the original book's sequel "M*A*S*H Goes To Maine" failed.
Many young actors appeared as guest stars before becoming household names: John Ritter, Patrick Swayze, Laurence Fishburne, Ron Howard, Joe Pantoliano, George Wendt, Andrew Dice Clay, Alex Karras, John Matuszak, Bruno Kirby, and Teri Garr.
Hawkeye, Margaret, and Father Mulcahy are the only three characters that lasted from the original movie all the way through to the end of the series.
"Goodbye, Farewell and Amen" was the finale of the series but was not the last to be made. The previous show "As Time Goes By" was filmed last.
As of November 2011, the series finale, "Goodbye Farewell, Amen," was the the most watched television broadcast in US History. It was watched by approximately 125 million viewers. The finale aired from 8pm - 11pm on February 28, 1983. At 11:03 pm, EST, New York City public works noted the highest water usage at one given time in the City's history. This was due to the fact that in the three minutes after the finale ended, approximately 77% of New York City flushed their toilets.
The series finale is the only episode to feature the episode title on screen during the entire show's run.