Klinger's dresses on M*A*S*H almost became a new trend

Cpl. Klinger became a 4077th trendsetter and with the way he could pull off a dress, we could see why.

Image credit: The Everett Collection

Cpl. Maxwell Q. Klinger was known as the fashionable soldier who wasn't afraid of wearing a dress on M*A*S*H. Klinger, played by Jamie Farr, was also known for his humor, versatility and endearing personality on the series. 

But what viewers may remember most about Cpl. Klinger was his range of outfits that were hidden somewhere in the 4077th. Some of his most iconic fits included: a fortune teller costume, a cowgirl fit, a Hula dancer and his famous Statue of Liberty outfit.

To see a man, let alone a soldier, in a dress on television in the 1970s was rare. Klinger challenged traditional gender norms and expanded the definition of masculinity.

According to a 1976 interview with The Mercury, Farr's character had started to become somewhat of a trendsetter as well as an inspiration to many adoring women who would watch M*A*S*H each week.

"I've been thinking we ought to put out a Cpl. Klinger or Jamie Farr line of dresses or jewerly," Farr said. "I'm serious about that because I've gotten several letters from girls saying, 'Gee, I really liked the blouse you wore this week and would like to get one like it.'"

Farr said he thought they could put out a wonderful collection and he would be delighted to endorse a women's line. While it may not have been Bob Mackie, it would have still been Cpl. Klinger, and that would have been enough to sell any M*A*S*H fan on the idea.

By the time the third season of M*A*S*H had finished, Farr said he had heard all the jokes about wearing women's clothing already. As you you could tell by his willingness to sponsor a Klinger line, the comments had no affect on Farr.

He said the jokes were all in good fun. He also said that the wardrobe department had the most fun finding his outfits, but it was difficult to find dresses in his size. Carol Burnett, Lucille Ball and Marilyn Monroe were in a different size category.

According to another 1976 interview with The Morning Call, Farr said that Klinger didn't come without some criticism. Many critics would bash the way he was dressed on the series, while others just had a hard time understanding the point of his character. 

Luckily, Farr's fans rose to the occasion; both women and men. 

"You know, here's a guy fighting the establishment," Farr said. "They appreciate his courage. He's saying 'I don't like being here. I don't like killing people, and this whole Korean thing is dumb. I'm trying to get out the best way I know how.'"

According to the interview, the character was created by producer Larry Gelbart a few years prior to 1972. Klinger was originally supposed to be a one-shot character with no more than a few lines. Thankfully, we got to see much more of Klinger — in more ways than one. 

"People do root for me, for the Cpl. Klinger character," Farr said. "I may be on a trip and people will spot me and give me a big 'hooray' and a big OK sign. On the freeway people will pull up alongside and give me a thumbs up or a V sign."

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11 Comments

GioLovesMash 6 months ago
love metv 2 for you is a-team is going away on h and i and back on metv is sunday block party is coming back or... mash july thing in 2017 or good times
AgingDisgracefully 6 months ago
Max was never comfortable with the high-waisted bodice.
LynCarrigan 6 months ago
MASH absolutely genius. The very best thing on TV, then and now. Every character every actor just spot on .
CoreyC 7 months ago
Jamie based Klinger on Lenny Bruce.
Andybandit 7 months ago
Klinger's dresses are hilarious.
Deleted 7 months ago
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cperrynaples 7 months ago
BTW, what I call "coin Purses" are stretchy things to put loose change in! You're clearly refering to regular purses because [a] coin purses don't have glitter and [b] those items would NEVER fit in a change purse!
LoveMETV22 7 months ago
Go figure Dollar Tree advertises them as Coin Purses, with the addition of a snap.

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Sounds like your referring to :

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Also advertised as a coin purse or "Oval Squeeze Coin Purse."
7 months ago
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troubledchild 7 months ago
That's why you try taking a seam ripper to separate the sequins from the purse before you use them.......or maybe use finger nail clippers to clip the thread holding the sequins to the purse. If 1 of those ideas doesn't work for you, maybe the will give you other ideas.
troubledchild 7 months ago
Maybe that rubber coin purse can be covered with some kind of material that snaps shut when you are ready to put it in your pocket, and taken off the coin purse when you don't need either.
LoveMETV22 6 months ago
Sounds a little like re-inventing the wheel, LOL. A piece of velcro would probably be sufficient.
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