Jamie Farr wore his real Army dog tags while shooting ''M*A*S*H''
As an added touch of realism, Farr brought in a prop from his time in service.
Corporal Max Klinger may have spent years trying to convince the Army that he was unfit for service, but Jamie Farr actually served in the Army, with no dress required. In an article for Proceedings, Farr wrote about being drafted, as well as his time serving in Japan and Korea, and how his time in the military helped to shape his role in M*A*S*H later on.
Of his experience, Farr wrote, "I won't try to tell you that serving in the military changed my life or opened up new career vistas. But it did help mature me. And having actually spent time as a soldier in Japan and Korea gave me some context later on for my roles in M*A*S*H and for a film version of the Broadway comedy No Time for Sergeants."
Farr was quick to explain that his own time with the Army wasn't similar to the way that it was portrayed in the series. Even so, the experience definitely helped to influence his own portrayal of a soldier on M*A*S*H. He wrote, "I'd seen the real soldiers who actually had been wounded in combat, and had been healed in the real M*A*S*H units. I'd slept in tents, and I'd traveled over bumpy terrain that may still have been minefields." Farr also revealed an additional touch that helped make the character of Klinger that much more realistic. He wrote, "For an added touch, on the set of M*A*S*H I wore my real Army dog tags."
While initially reluctant to embrace his military service because he assumed it would deter him from his career in show business, Farr said that today, he is grateful for his time spent. He wrote, "I realized later how important the time I spent in uniform was in my life. I learned discipline, brotherhood, and punctuality, among other things — the stuff of a young man's maturing — and I got valuable experience."