9 tiny things you never noticed in the M*A*S*H pilot episode

See the cast changes, references to the novel, and continuity errors in the episode that started it all.

M*A*S*H started on a strong note. Of course, it had a lot to work with, considering it was adapted from a novel and an acclaimed, hit film, 1970's MASH. These characters were fully formed from the get-go, which made the series immediately compelling. 

Speaking of characters, there were a lot of them. Many of them, like Ugly John, Lt. Dish and Spearchucker Jones, would quickly disappear from the 4077th. There simply was not enough screen time to go around.

They are not the only differences you might pick up on when watching "Pilot," the series premiere from 1972. Here are some other interesting little details!

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1. Hawkeye has a mom.

In later episodes, we learn a bit of Hawkeye's backstory. His mother died when he was 10 years old and his dear old dad has been a bachelor ever since. However, in the pilot, Hawkeye mentions that Ho-Jon can "stay with [his] parents, so there's no problem there." Well, there is one problem — how does he have two parents in this scene?

2. This wacky hat made it from the pilot to the finale.

It's hard to forget a hat like that, what with the black-and-white checkered pattern, pink ribbon and poofy tassels. At the raffle party in the pilot, a random member of the 4077th debuts this fashionable headpiece. Of course, it would later become associated with B.J., who did not join M*A*S*H until season four. This hat is there at the bittersweet end, when B.J. bids "Goodbye, Farewell" to his close friend Hawkeye. Most castmembers can't boast about being in the first episode and final episode!

3. You can see a clear shot of Radar's left hand.

Gary Burghoff hid his left hand well throughout most of his time on the series. The actor has three shorter fingers on that hand, as he was born with Poland syndrome. It is most noticeable in the opening scene, an extended version of the credits, as he catches a football and hears approaching helicopters.

4. It's the only episode with George Morgan as Father Mulcahy… well, not really.

First this one episode, George Morgan portrayed Father Mulcahy. Oddly, he never speaks. Perhaps he is more of a monk in the pilot. That being said, Morgan can actually be seen in subsequent episodes! Take a close look at the opening credits in later episodes. In the shot where Hawkeye leads a crouched crew to the helicopter, Morgan's Mulcahy can be seen at the back of the pack, as circled here.

5. It is the only episode with a scene set in the United States.

Of course, most of M*A*S*H takes place in Korea. However, there is a brief glimpse at characters in America (that is not from a home movie or photograph or whatnot). When General Hammond (G. Wood) received a phone call from Margaret, he flashes back to a romantic moment they shared in Fort Benning, Georgia. Coincidentally, it also happens to be the only scene of the series in which we see Margaret wearing a white nurse uniform.

6. The gin still changes after this first episode.

The gin still is a key feature of "The Swamp" throughout the series. It looks like a chemistry experiment with tubing, glass containers and metal stands. In the pilot, it looks more like something from the hills outside of Mayberry. Frank Burns snatches up the still, which is a large copper tank. Maybe he broke that one?

7. Bruno Kirby appears in a silent role.

Bruno Kirby (City Slickers, Good Morning, Vietnam, When Harry Met Sally) can be seen briefly waving when Hawkeye and his conspirators sedate Frank. Kirby (billed as "B. Kirby, Jr.") speaks no lines of dialogue as "Boone." Private Lorenzo Boone does turn up later in the show — with a different actor, with lines. Robert Gooden plays the part. You might remember Bud Cort in the role in the 1970 film, too. Perhaps Kirby was intended to play a larger part? He does get mentioned in the closing credits (see below).

8. There's a reference to a significant character from the movie and novel.

Captain Walter Koskiusko Waldowski might not ring a bell to most M*A*S*H fans, but the character made a key contribution to the franchise. In the 1970 movie MASH, John Schuck plays the part. Waldowski, nicknamed "the Painless Pole," contemplates suicide. Hence the song, "Suicide Is Painless," which became the theme song to the TV series. The Painless Pole never appears on the show, but Hawkeye mentions his name when reading out raffle entries. Again, this might have been a character intended for a larger role and subsequently dropped from the series.

9. Who the heck is "Knocko"?

We've mentioned two tiny characters that are notable. Here is another one. In the closing credits you can see a line for "Knocko.....Laura Miller." If you are wondering who that is, you have good company. Knocko was scripted a love interest for Trapper, but her scenes were apparently trimmed from the final product. Captain Bridget "Knocko" McCarthy was in the movie. The pilot script described her as a "30-year old attractive no-nonsense nurse." The is uncertainty as to which actress Laura Miller even is in the pilot. Likely, she is a woman wearing a mask next to Trapper in the O.R. Laura Miller never appeared in another episode, and it's challenging to even find an image of her.

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MattAlbrecht 3 months ago
Who the hell is Bruno Kirby? Exactly.
JohnFinnJr 3 months ago
"Knocko" appeared in the Pilot episode as a hopeful girlfriend for Trapper. I don't know if this is "Knocko" or not, but in this first episode photo, Trapper does have his arms around her.
DiannaGell 3 months ago
I managed to find that she appeared in a TV show in 1971 called Longstreet. I don't remember the show, but I grabbed a screen shotof her.
doug1376 8 months ago
As far as Knocko goes… this show was supposedly aired on 9/17/72 but somehow magically Laura “Knocko” Miller wasn’t born until 9/9/74.
CCHeckman doug1376 3 months ago
Wrong Laura Miller. It's a common name (there are at least 13 listed at IMDB), and the actress you're talking about goes by the name of Laura Carly Miller. (This seems to happen fairly often ... Michael J Fox uses his middle name because there was an actor named Michael Fox, who appears -- for instance -- in Young Frankenstein.)
GaryS1509 19 months ago
Point #6 here is really, really dumb. About ten seconds after the pic shown, Frank throws the prototype still to the ground, accompanied with severe breakage noises. Of course they rebuilt it.
BrittanyDale 24 months ago
Ummmm DUH!! Frank broke the first still... does NO ONE remember how he flipped out, then grabbed it, tried running away from Hawkeye & Trapper, then threw it down, thus BREAKING IT?!?! Wow!!! 😳
WordsmithWorks 27 months ago
Still more discrepancies: Is Hawkeye from Vermont or Maine? Is Potter from Nebraska or Missouri? And what happened to Chuck?
Joe WordsmithWorks 24 months ago
At least for Hawkeye, I recall he was from "Applegrove, Maine".
MacGyver59 Joe 24 months ago
Crabapple Cove
Whenever a new show starts, creators are always making little changes as the series goes before settling on a permanent lifeline... Hawkeye mentioned being from Vermont with a Dad, Mom AND Sister... but later it was Crabapple Cove Maine and just his dad... Full House, season 1, Danny wasn't the neat freak he bacame in the next years... happens ALL the time
Because the show was on for so long, and I have been a fan for years, I can point to numerous continuity errors. Doesn't mean I dislike the show. It is what it is.

The evolution of a character (Danny becoming a neat freak) is far different.
CCHeckman BrittanyDale 3 months ago
And roles are sometimes recast after the pilot.
Rfw766 28 months ago
Fantastic facts, I for one never knew.
daywayne 29 months ago
Hawkeye also refers to his mother in a letter to his dad where he says "say hi to mom and sis". What sis?
WordsmithWorks daywayne 27 months ago
I also remember Hawkeye referring to a sweater his sister made for him that can double as a sleeping bag.
michaeljewing 29 months ago
I love how 20th Century Fox rotated their stars such as Stuart Margolin playing Sidney Freeman before being cast as Angel on the Rockford Files and Harry Morgan appearing as a kooky general before returning as Col Potter.
Moody michaeljewing 29 months ago
Stuart Margolin never played Sidney FREEDMAN. That was Allan Arbus. Stuart Margolin did play two other characters on MASH but never as Sidney Freedman.
Margolin played Stosh the plastic surgeon and the psychiatrist that examines Hawkeye (too lazy to IMDB)
JimB 29 months ago
Other discrepancies were that Henry Blake's wife was first named Mildred in the episode where she was pregnant and going into labor, then it was changed to Lorainne later on. I also loved the episode where Sherman Potter and Klinger played Father Time and Baby New Year. If you look closely at their banners, you would see that Potter and Blake were commanding officers at the same time. Spoiler alert. Blake was killed in 52. Potter's sash at the beginning of the show says 51
dtor22 29 months ago
There are many discrepancies. Early on, Margaret gets drunk and says that Col. Blake looks like her father, when he died. Her father shows up in a later episode. Ugly John plays an Australian later on.
My favorite show.
Floyd 29 months ago
In the episode dreams,they show Klinger's home town of Toledo.
cperrynaples Floyd 29 months ago
Yes because that's where Jamie Farr grew up! Sorta irrelevant since Klinger WASN'T in the pilot!
candybaroque cperrynaples 23 months ago
the article said they never showed a scene set in the US, but the dream takes place in toledo
Tangomike 29 months ago
I have loved and watched MASH since the beginning. When stationed with the US Air Force in Korea, my sister would tape the show and send it to me on VHS. The Korean government did not allow the show on Armed Forces TV. My wife and I watch reruns every night before going to bed.
Mac Tangomike 29 months ago
When were you there?
I ask because I was in Yongsan from 76-78 and MASH was the only show that ran on AFKN the entire time I was there, so I'm assuming it happened at some point later.
Star Trek was a close second because they stopped it for a month or two before starting it back again.
Everything else ran sporadically.
olddogg 29 months ago
It's common to refer to someone that has passed as if they were still alive. Just a brain fart, nothing more. She's is still alive in his heart. Some of us have had those moments. Obviously, Hawkeye loves his mother very much.
RichardPniewski 29 months ago
If I recall, doesn't Hawkeye allude to being married in that episode?
CCHeckman RichardPniewski 3 months ago
Close. He said he's engaged.
RickBox 29 months ago
Regarding Item 1, obviously Hawkeye had a stepmom in the pilot who died just afterward. That's my story.
JimB RickBox 29 months ago
I hate to burst your bubble, but that's false. In the episode where Radar got jealous of his mom dating a man she met at church, Hawkeye told him how his dad was a widower. When his dad met this woman, Hawkeye was miffed. He said after that, his dad remained single to that very day.
EmBee 29 months ago
When I was in high school, one of my teachers new a Hollywood writer. He came in and told us what was involved in writing scripts for TV shows. Since the shows were written by different writers throughout the season/series there were SUPPOSED to be profiles of each character which would include date/place of birth, parents names, hometown etc. But with MASH, they apparently forgot at first. Another mistake re Hawkeye is that early on he also has a sister and he writes home to the family in Vermont. Colonel Potter initially talks about home in Nebraska not Missouri.
Frank does indeed smash the original copper still. The strange thing is it made a sort of glass breaking sound.
madmark1 EmBee 29 months ago
So you noticed the Vermont connection to Hawkeye also I thought I was the only one. later in the show he was said to be from CrabApple Cove Maine.
cperrynaples madmark1 29 months ago
CrabApple is in the book! Yes, a lot of contradictions pop up if you watch the entire series!
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