Jamie Farr was sad when the time came to say goodbye to his M*A*S*H family
The M*A*S*H finale was record-breaking, but Jamie Farr couldn't understand why.
M*A*S*H was one iconic series. It's a record-breaking, award-winning type of iconic series with a successful 11 seasons to be exact. When M*A*S*H came to a close with the final episode titled "Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen," many fans had a hard time saying goodbye.
People were emotionally attached to characters such as Hawkeye Pierce (Alan Alda), Margaret Houlihan (Loretta Swit), Radar O'Reilly (Gary Burghoff), and the rest of the 4077th.
That is why fans from all over the country came together to celebrate the M*A*S*H finale which took place on February 28, 1983. It was their last chance to have the crew together one last time, and boy — did they show up.
The finale had over 105 million viewers tuning in to see how their favorite show would end, and where their favorite characters would go. With all of the goodbyes, it was easy to feel sad before, during, and after the series finale.
For Jamie Farr, who played the role of Cpl. Maxwell Q. Klinger, the M*A*S*H finale meant saying goodbye to his M*A*S*H family. In a 1983 interview with Bennington Banner, Farr said he never once considered leaving the series.
"That show on the 28th of February is an American event," Farr said. "That is frightening. People are holding parties all over this country — sending us off, saying goodbye to us on that final episode."
According to the interview, what bothered Farr was not the exuberance of the parties but his suspicion that some people throwing them thought M*A*S*H was a real scenario.
"I don't know if I want that responsibility," Farr said. "I'm serious about that. I had no intention of having this so-called national importance. All I wanted to do was to have a weekly job where I knew my paycheck was coming in... But all this coverage!"
The press coverage of M*A*S*H and the finale was record-breaking and it seemed as though the world was put on pause just to see how it all ended. The parties, interviews, bets, brackets, and statues; The finale, Farr and all of his co-stars were very important. He and his co-stars had been published in everything from Newsweek, Time Magazine, and TV Guide to the CBS News and Entertainment Tonight.
"I mean, it just makes you think 'Am I really that important?'," Farr said. "I'm not that important. I'm really not."
Any M*A*S*H fan who met Farr in real life would probably disagree with that statement. Farr was always being asked for autographs by adoring fans, and he said his fans rarely left empty-handed.
So, what kind of magic did they put into M*A*S*H anyway?
"My answer is too pat now," Farr said. "I would be delighted to hear what the general public had to say. Why is it so meaningful to them? I don't know why. I wish somebody could come up with an answer."
What do you think made M*A*S*H so special to so many people? There are many reasons fans give when asked this question, but whatever the case, it made M*A*S*H a hit. And it made Farr a celebrity — even if he didn't want to admit it.
"You'd think people would be revering people who were peacemakers in the world," Farr said. "People who were great educators. People who were scientists looking for some discovery that would help mankind. Yet there's this little stupid television show that's on about three or four times a day now because of syndication and everybody is throwing bouquets at us."
None of which is to say that Farr was ashamed of his character, in fact, it was quite the opposite. He even wanted to start a Cpl. Klinger fashion line for his women fans. When it came to leaving his character behind, Farr said all actors are insecure after leaving a job, no matter how long they've been doing it.
"M*A*S*H has been a way of life for me, and it will seem strange not going there anymore, not seeing these people," Farr said in an interview with The Los Angeles Times. "We have to be adult about it. We'll all go on to something else, but what frightens me is that I'll be offered shows like those on-air today. There's only one M*A*S*H in my lifetime. It's a classic show. It's like retiring Nashua or Lou Gehrig."