M*A*S*H tried and failed to make their own fake blood

The cast cursed the theatrical blood that stuck like glue to their gloves and stained their undergarments.

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There's a shocking scene in a M*A*S*H eighth season episode full of shocking scenes called "Dreams," where Margaret Houlihan appears in a wedding gown covered in blood.

It's a dream sequence, but by the show's eighth season, Margaret Houlihan actor Loretta Swit said the audience was ready to see how the traumatic experiences the cast had at camp was seeping into their subconscious.

"For Margaret, to be in her wedding dress and it's covered with blood and all of these soldiers are passing by her, it's just totally believable," Swit told the Television Academy.

Alan Alda wrote the episode much earlier than the episode was shot and aired — because it was ahead of its time in the series production in more ways than one.

Earlier in the series, Swit said that audiences wouldn't have understood the true weight of these heavy dreams, and according to M*A*S*H executive producer Burt Metcalfe, early edicts from the network forbid the show to depict characters with their clothes soaked in blood like Margaret's wedding dress.

"Don't show too much blood," Metcalfe told the Television Academy was how the network saw the show succeeding.

In actuality, the more popular M*A*S*H became, the bloodier it became, as the network allowed the show to get away with more and more gore.

M*A*S*H medical consultant Walter Dishell told the Television Academy that the network giving this sort of permission didn't make the show sensational. It made the show more realistic.

"In the early years, the network really didn't want much blood on the clothing or on the sponges," Dishell said.

But "they definitely made it a lot more bloody," and Dishell said soon the actors would goof off backstage by dipping their hands in blood and soaking their gloves to make them appear as shocking as possible.

M*A*S*H actor Alan Alda wrote in his book The Last Days of M*A*S*H that the decision to use more blood on the show actually caused an unforeseen problem when the actors needed to dip their gloves in the fake stuff.

"In the early years, the blood was okay," Alda wrote. "It had a nice color, and it ran well. Then the company stopped manufacturing it, and the only theatrical blood you could buy was made with a base of Karo syrup. It would probably have been all right on waffles, but it stuck to rubber gloves like glue."

No longer a laughing matter, the sticky gloves became such an issue for the cast that the show tried and failed to invent their own fake blood.

"We tried making formulas, even mixing shampoo with red watercolor, but all that did was turn pink and foam all over us," Alda said.

Unsuccessful in their attempts to come up with a better fake blood solution, the cast had to use the Karo syrup, which Alda wrote in his 2007 memoir Things I Overhead Talking to Myself, had yet another downside.

"It was hard to wash the blood off my underwear when it soaked through my M*A*S*H fatigues," Alda wrote.

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nightshade 26 months ago
oh, believe me, i know their pain ... as someone who helps make Halloween yard horrorscapes for the past 15 years the quality of the fake blood runs from crap (Walmart) to the best (spirit store) but it all depends on how much ya wanna pay for ......
MichaelFields 29 months ago
Fake blood in Black and White movies was Herseys Chocolate syrup (like in the movie Psycho) but with color this could not be used of course so a company started making it and it was sometimes called “Kensington Gore,” after the street of that name in London that made the best, then after that other types came along (one using Karo Syrup) and others tried to, but one of the ones made after this was made with (I forgot) a chemical that was bad if you ate it, but it looked more realistic then all of them and that was used the most until I think it was The Shinning then it changed again.
RichLorn 29 months ago
It seems to me a better solution would have been to put the costumes on a mannequin and use red ink. After the ink dried the actors could have donned the costumes.
F5Twitster 29 months ago
"According to M*A*S*H executive producer Burt Metcalfe, early edicts from the network forbid the show to depict characters with their clothes soaked in blood like Margaret's wedding dress."

The network FORBADE (past tense) the show...
Deleted 29 months ago
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Zip 29 months ago
That used to happen to my wife all the time. Then she quit carrying around open bottles of Karo syrup and red food coloring in her pants, and it stopped.
bnichols23 29 months ago
So *that's* why he didn't like the shower scenes! -evyl grin-
Pacificsun 29 months ago
It seems a little unlikely, or perhaps more of a temporary state that an ambitious series like MASH couldn't connect with some provider of cosmetic based makeup. Look how many medical shows, horror films, and medical field demands there are. Maybe it would be nice to have a follow up on this story. Did they ever find what they needed?
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LoveMETV22 Pacificsun 29 months ago
Shhh, over here inside the tent 🎪 Did you get your memo?
Your closing was kind " Just so you can rest, poor soul."
Pacificsun LoveMETV22 29 months ago
Just the typing alone would drive me to my grave. Save for the price of gas, it won't be soon. But I don't understand the style of perpetual indenting. Or does that come from hard returns, yes I think it does. It's just such a narrow kind of expression. I would like to see the thoughts flowing and running on freely. I just feel the ideas are so confined trapped in that narrow wedge of copy.

Run free, little letters!
LoveMETV22 Pacificsun 29 months ago
Well at least it hasn't gone to:
Sorry if that popped up on your end more than once. my pc doesn't like the frequent indent. LOL
Zip 29 months ago
I am sure the flies, and the bees if they were doing an outdoor scene, loved that Karo syrup blood.

"Would have been right on pancakes."
Good one, Alan!
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LoveMETV22 stephaniestavr5 29 months ago
Ditto. A nice crepe, omelet or quiche. 🍳
LoveMETV22 29 months ago
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LoveMETV22 stephaniestavr5 29 months ago
To each (his,her) own/ Whatever floats your boat/ Whatever tickles your fancy, etc.... LOL.
bnichols23 stephaniestavr5 29 months ago
Good. Leaves more for me!
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