Gary Burghoff: 10 facts about M*A*S*H's most interesting actor

He's the man, and here's why!

Sure, Alan Alda had the highest-profile career post-M*A*S*H. And yeah, Trapper John had a spin-off that lasted seven whole seasons. But, for our money, good ol' Lt. Radar O'Reilly himself, Gary Burghoff, was the most fascinating actor in the cast.

Don't believe us? Read ahead and see for yourself. Here are 10 fun facts that prove that Gary Burghoff is just as captivating offscreen as he was on M*A*S*H! Each fact was initially printed in the Manitowoc Herald-Times back in 2000 when Burghoff was set to star in Neil Simon's "Last of the Red Hot Lovers" in the city's Capitol Civic Center.

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1. Acting was a childhood ambition

Some actors fall into the job. But for Gary Burghoff, acting was a lifelong dream. "I spent all those Saturday matinees in the movie theaters. I probably saw every B film and every A film that was ever made."

2. Gemini

Burghoff's birthday was May 24, making his zodiac sign that of the Gemini. Geminis are usually associated with playfulness and curiosity, which Burghoff exhibited well into his later life. "I don't feel old enough to wear readers!" 

3. Patents

Gary Burghoff invented several new types of fishing tackle. He had a patent for Chum Magic, which floated on the water to attract fish. According to him, Chum Magic increased catches by 300%!

4. Paintings

Did you know Burghoff could paint? He was awarded the Hallmark Award in 1961 for his painting "Men of Jazz."

5. More Jazz

He didn't just paint jazz musicians. Gary Burghoff was a jazz musician as well. In the Sixties, he played in a New York City jazz trio he founded called The We Three. Far out!

6. No Hard Feelings

You may recall that Gary Burghoff left M*A*S*H a few seasons before it ended. However, it certainly wasn't due to any on-set animosity. "My memories of M*A*S*H are now nothing but the fondest," he said. "And I still am in touch with my fellow cast members. Alan [Alda] wrote me a letter right after I left the show, and there were no hard feelings.''

7. Environmentalism

Anyone familiar with Burghoff's personal life will note that he was a staunch environmentalist. He was a supporter of the Federal Duck Stamp Program, and aided in preserving some 5 million acres of land.

8. Birdman of Malibu

Gary Burghoff opened a wildlife sanctuary and animal rehabilitation clinic in his own backyard, earning him the nickname the Birdman of Malibu.

9. Family Travel

Burghoff only traveled in his RV. Even though it took longer to get to engagements than it would have if he had flown, Burghoff did it to spend time with his loved ones. "I try only to travel with my family," he said.

10. Versatility

While most fans identify Gary Burghoff most with Radar, he was fully committed to every character he played. Of his then-current role Barney Cashman in "Last of the Red Hot Lovers," Burghoff said "He's delicious, he's wonderful. He's nothing like Radar."

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19 Comments

briandavidsmith263 14 days ago
There was no problem with the cast I did not like Frank Burns or Charles other then that the show was great
John 1 month ago
Everyday at 6pm I leave MeTv until 8pm when the great MASH potato is over. ENOUGH ALREADY!!
John 1 month ago
MeTv has MASH on the brain. They are ruining their channel with the 2hr nightly barrage.
And that sick Burns promo is indecipherable!!
amicableman 1 month ago
I was at a festival and spotted Gary in the crowd with his wife. Having just moved in the area, I thought I would take a video ( this was before phone cameras, I used a video camera) to show my friends a celebrity lives nearby. Gary saw me recording him , got a discussed look and left the festival. I always felt bad that I ruined his enjoyment!
SrLerxst 1 month ago
MeTV does not read these comments nor will answer any e-mails even regarding your network provider
SrLerxst 1 month ago
MASH should have ended when Gary left
kwlcat 1 month ago
Wow, environmentalist? No bad for a guy who was the spokesman for BP. https://youtu.be/dzFW_3sBXMA?si=TFH_uceXCv-TK45_
jvf 1 month ago
Another interesting fact that was/is not well known is he was born with brachydactyly caused by Poland syndrome. Rarely do you see his left hand in any shot.
mensatim994 jvf 1 month ago
They showed his hand in almost every episode but they had him always holding something like a file or a phone so that you couldn't see his hand clearly. I thought it was actually interesting that the only actor in both the movie and the TV show was the only one who was ineligible for the draft due to his medical condition. After Mclean Stevenson and Wayne Rogers left, Gary was the best character on the show. Alan Alda was always a raging ego who I found as much off-putting as attractive as an actor.
John mensatim994 1 month ago
I couldn't agree more about Alda.
When Farrell joined the whole show became the two Magpies Hekyle and Jekyle. A shame really
rockaria 1 month ago
Radar seemed so out of his element in the middle of a war. A man who sleeps with a teddy bear and drinks Nehi soda should not be required to serve. I loved Radar. I liked Klinger, but the 4077th just wasn't the same without Radar. I just took a look at some of his wildlife paintings on youtube. They're beautiful!!
jbmcconathey 1 month ago
MASH is my favorite show of ALL TIME. Radar compliments every episode and I can’t say any one of them is my favorite actor, but it’s obvious that Radar has some sort of relationship with the entire cast that He has top dibs on my account
BrianThetubewatcher 1 month ago
Radar sending the lamb home was the greatest TV plot!
Mailing the jeep home was good too
Henry: Death in the family?
Radar: Almost...
SparkleMotion 1 month ago
My Dad loved the show M.A.S.H. and Radar was my favorite character. ... I am so happy to read what Gary Burghoff did for wildlife and the environment. That's so awesome! He sounds like a really nice guy and talented. 👍
Andybandit 1 month ago
Radar was a cool guy.
cperrynaples Andybandit 1 month ago
Yep, but there are stories about how difficult Burghoff was to work with! He seems to come off well in the Fox retrospective!
soonersjlg cperrynaples 1 month ago
I don't believe everything I hear or read.
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