Lorne Greene thought Gary Burghoff left M*A*S*H ''too early''

Greene cast aspersions regarding Radar's departure.

Nowadays, it seems like long-running shows may be a relic of the past. Sure, we have legacy series like Law & Order and The Simpsons that seem to stretch on indefinitely. But these are the exceptions that prove the rule. For the most part, when a show streams on a platform like Hulu or Netflix, the series will get canceled after a second season. These streaming services pay a premium to recommission for a third season, so instead, the shows disappear, and the stories are left unfinished.

That hasn't always been the case, though, as shows used to have new seasons for as long as there was an audience. Gunsmoke, for instance, lasted a mind-boggling 20 seasons. That's nearly impossible today. Shows like M*A*S*H and Bonanza lasted forever as well, generating 11 and 14 seasons, respectively.

While the paydays for these long-running shows definitely proved fruitful for the actors involved, all that screen time wasn't without its drawbacks. Anybody who appeared as the same character for a decade or more risked limiting the public's perception of that person's acting. If you're spending ten years as the same character, week after week, the audience is going to associate you with that character forever. That can then limit the roles an actor is offered. Nobody is casting Bob Denver as a military sergeant or an evil villain after his time on Gilligan's Island

Lorne Greene, for his part, experienced a similar hardship following Bonanza. However, fortunately for him, he was able to work in a series of made-for-TV movies during that period, providing viewers with even more of a look at what he could do as an actor. While he was able to recognize the difficulties of spending that much time as Ben Cartwright, Greene was critical of other actors who left their show to avoid typecasting.

In a 1986 interview on the Australian program The Midday Show with Ray Martin, Greene spoke critically of Gary Burghoff's decision to leave M*A*S*H.

"I know some of the actors involved in M*A*S*H had the same problem, didn't they? Because the program was so popular," said Greene.

"You know, Radar, for example, he left the program because he felt that he was being locked into that [role], that there was nowhere else to go."

If anybody could relate to the feeling of being locked into a role, it's Greene. However, he did not share Burghoff's wishes to distance himself from the program that made him famous. Nor did he condone Burghoff's decision.

"I think he left a bit too early," said Greene.

Was this a remnant of hard feelings from when Pernell Roberts left Bonanza? Who knows. One thing that is certain, however, is that Greene was able to continue his career after Bonanza, finding success with the sci-fi hit Battlestar Galactica

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6 Comments

zorob150 2 months ago
Burghoff really didn't have a career until mash. I may be spelling this last name wrong so please forgive me. Behind the scenes of the series he was the most difficult actor to deal with. I admit from what I read that Mike Farrell was the only one who tried to talk him out of leaving the series I mean the rest were like see you later dude.
JHP 5 months ago
to be honest ' Radar was showing age - and he left with hooking up (maybe) with a goddess from Missouri(?). What nice eye candy she was - lord almighty
Cougar90 5 months ago
It was one of his last interviews. Loren passed away the next year.
Bapa1 5 months ago
Well, Burghoff sure showed him, didn't he? Right? Back me up guys, am I right?!
Irish 5 months ago
There are a lot of shows where main cast members left too early. I think McLean Stevenson left too early too, as did Wayne Rogers. I missed Trapper John. As for Pernell Roberts? He didn't leave soon enough. Sorry Adam! I missed Richard Thomas as John-Boy. Didn't care for replacement first born. I guess it is what it is. What's the saying? "Out with the old and in with the new!" In some cases it doesn't apply. 🥴
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