Alan Alda and Wayne Rogers shared this ritual before every on-location shoot on M*A*S*H

Find out what code word ''armoire'' really meant.

The camaraderie between Alan Alda's Hawkeye Pierce and Wayne Rogers' Trapper John made M*A*S*H a ton of fun to watch right from the very start. And while their high jinks in the camp are likely the most memorable, the show also transported the duo to different settings to take their amusements even further.

According to Alda in his book Never Have Your Dog Stuffed: And Other Things I've Learned, the M*A*S*H stars established a funny little ritual before these on-location shoots that sealed their bond behind scenes, too.

As Alda tells the story, Rogers really didn't like having to drive to the different locations, so Alda agreed to do all the driving. The trade, however, was that if Alda was driving, Rogers had to help him figure out the meaning to his dreams.

Alda wrote, "Wayne Rogers' little quirk was that he didn't like to drive, and I'd give him a lift when we went out to location. My quirk was that on the way, I would tell him my dreams and let him interpret them for me."

One of these dreams ended up becoming a solid inside joke for the set buddies. Alda says the dream found him acting in a scene, when the director pushed him to climb atop an armoire to deliver his lines. It sounds a little silly, but Alda insists in the book this was a nightmare for him, and he wanted to understand what it meant. Alda recalls what Rogers said to him in response:

"This is very important. Directors are always asking us to do these unbelievable things to make it easier to shoot. Your dream is telling you to resist them. Don't give up reality. Don't do an armoire."

From that point on, Alda says "Don't do an armoire" became code for bending too far to director requests that sacrificed the show's gritty nature.

He says any time a director pushed either actor in rehearsal to "do something completely improbable for the convenience of the camera," the stars would whisper to each other those words of encouragement, "Don't do an armoire," which is perhaps better translated to us civilians as "Stick to your guns."

Although Rogers eventually left behind the M*A*S*H ensemble to pursue more time in the spotlight as a star, his influence likely persisted as Alda began to fill more roles on set, including director on 32 episodes. We can bet once Alda switched hats and became the one pointing the camera, he never forgot what it meant to be asked to "Do an armoire" and continued elevating the show, not for the convenience of the camera, but for the power of the performances the M*A*S*H cast was so famous for.

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22 Comments

tadlem 10 months ago
It stopped being MASH and became the Alan Alda show. Hard to watch.
Lucy 10 months ago
I have seen all the episodes of Mash. I think that Alan Alda upstaged everyone on the show. I think that was one of the reasons Wayne Rogers left. Alan got all of the attention and I didn't think it was fair to the other actors. Maybe it should have been called the Alan Alda show. Just my opinion.
Runeshaper 10 months ago
"Don't do an armoire" can really say a lot about certain situations we face in life.
Moverfan Runeshaper 9 months ago
So can "What's sillier, saying 'Tally ho' to a fox or 'Hello' to a golf ball?"
LoveMETV22 10 months ago
" Alda says the dream found him acting in a scene, when the director pushed him to climb atop an armoire to deliver his lines. It sounds a little silly,"
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Wonder if Alda's dream in anyway inspired the scene in Season 11, Episode # 4 " The Joker is Wild."
Where Hawkeye must climb atop a mess tent table to deliver his lines.
LakeNeuron 33 months ago
I never had the pleasure of meeting Wayne Rogers, but he was a faithful alumnus of The Webb School, a prep school located in my little rural Tennessee county. I worked for the local newspaper for 35 years, and after Wayne Rogers passed I talked to several people associated with the school to do a story. He and his wife were quite generous -- but they were always more interested in funding scholarships than brick and mortar, making sure that any child who would benefit from the Webb experience could afford it. He was one of the school's board members for many years and they said he contributed a lot to the discussion -- of course, he went into business after leaving the entertainment industry and became quite successful.
Rick LakeNeuron 10 months ago
He also attended Ramsay High in Birmingham, Alabama, my dad's alma mater!
Utzaake 55 months ago
"Armoire" is a word usually associated with Seinfeld and the Soup Nazi episode in particular.
ttenchantr Utzaake 35 months ago
"Armoire" is actually a word usually associated with a piece of furniture going back hundreds of years.
Zip Utzaake 10 months ago
Well... in that case it worked then because Alan never did an episode of Seinfeld.
BradSwann 55 months ago
The first 3 seasons of MASH were fantastic, the next 2 seasons passable, the last 6 were largely insufferable.
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Lucy BradSwann 10 months ago
I think that when McLean Stevenson, Wayne Rogers and Larry Linville left the show, it kind of went downhill. I never really liked Harry Morgan.
Wiseguy70005 Moverfan 10 months ago
Not quite. DOS wasn't in the final episode although he did appear as the station manager in three episodes. Vincent Gardenia (Frank in All in the Family) was the station manager (also named Frank) in the final episode.
Wiseguy70005 BradSwann 10 months ago
I'd say the first three years were OK, the next three years were the best, then the series' writing started sliding downhill and never came back.
I liked the original cast. When it started to become Hawkeye-centric it lost its charm imo.
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