M*A*S*H actor Gary Burghoff hated being called cute

The man with a teddy bear hated being called cute.

Radar O'Reilly, played by Gary Burghoff on M*A*S*H, became one of the most beloved characters on television. Throughout M*A*S*H's 11 season run, fans watched as Radar grew from a naive 18-year-old who was drafted with his teddy bear, to a man who held the 4077th together.

Burghoff loved many things: dancing, singing, acting and playing drums... but there was one thing he didn't like.

"Aw, I know I'm cute," he said. "Cute, cute, CUTE! I was always cute, because I was always the smallest kid on the block. I hate cute."

In a 1976 interview with The Herald News, Burghoff talked about his not-so-tough-guy image in both Hollywood and his personal life.

"I don't know why everybody thinks I'm so small," he said. "I'm not. I think I must be about 5'6 now, and that's bigger than Arte Johnson or Mickey Rooney."

In the interview, Burghoff talked about his first appearance on The Dean Martin Show in 1973. This particular show was the Celebrity Roast of Jack Klugman and Tony Randall.

"I was really shocked when Dean Martin introduced me. He said, 'You know that dog food commercial where the tiny stage coach runs through the TV set? Well, Gary Burghoff is so small he drives that stage coach,'" the actor said. "I was really hurt. I thought it was a cheap shot. Do you think 5 feet 6 is THAT short?"

Burghoff also opened up about his birth defect, a version of Poland Syndrome but specifically Brachydactyly. His left hand had three fingers that were significantly smaller than those on his right hand.

"Of course this defect affected me while I was growing up," he said. "I suppose when I was very young, I knew my disability would set me apart and make me special." 

The good-natured and cute... we mean, good-natured and charming Gary Burghoff is special to us indeed.


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18 Comments

Pacificsun 30 days ago
I've read where he was the most difficult of the actors to be around (work with).
MrsPhilHarris 1 month ago
I think he was hung up on his height. I looked it up and in an interview he said 5 foot 5 1/2 inches. Others said he was 5 foot 5. I hate to break it to him but that is short.
LonzoE 1 month ago
I still am a MASH fan, I watch it today just like back then. The final show as loyal as I was to MASH, I forgot to set the VCR (yes, VCR) because I wasn't going to miss it for no reason! However as a volunteer Firefighter/EMTD you can never say that!! Yes, beer on the table, snacks, Kleenex, and on the phone with my best friend talking about what was happening in just a few minutes and you got it, the fire tone goes off and off I go! I was out all night and part of the next day, I was also the fire Marshal for the town which meant I had to help find a cause...when I finally got home I took a long shower and went to bed.
DocForbin 1 month ago
I remember a special about disabled children that was hosted by Burghoff. At the end he did the "this is the church and this is the steeple" bit and you could clearly see that the fingers on his left hand were shorter than those on the right.
BuckeyeBeth7 1 month ago
I can understand his frustration even more now that I know Gary has been called cute as entire life as opposed to just the character of Radar. I mean Gary was 29 when the TV show started and I believe Hawkeye makes a crack at one point about Radar living to see 18 (or 19). And 8 years later during Radar’s send off Gary was 37 while Radar was still early-to-mid 20s. Maybe part of his frustration with the character was that it wasn’t what he thought it was going to be when he signed up to do the tv show since Radar in the movie wasn’t quite as naïve.
JHP 1 month ago
I can see why he didnt like that - it must have been rough for the lines in the Ep's scripts

I mean I think all the nurses were taller than him - but when he was going home and he was with that blonde at the military airport...DAMM she was soo 10+ on all facets
Zip 1 month ago
Anyone who has seen Gary on shows like Match Game and/or some interviews, knows he made up for his "cute" image with his biting, and often quite nasty, wit. The total opposite of Radar.
But c'mon Gary, you have to admit, Radar exuded "cute." Embrace it.
WordsmithWorks 1 month ago
Hawkeye was constantly making fun of Radar's height. I wonder why Burghoff didn't insist the writers stop it.
Hawkeye was teasing RADAR not Gary. Geeze,
Because that’s not how tv shows work. Actors can request or make suggestions to the writers, but it’s not that often that the actors have enough clout that the writers are required to obey. I’m not sure how much the actors on M*A*S*H (other than AA) could play with their lines, some shows are very open to communication and suggestions while others are extremely strict. I do know from interview videos that actors on Star Trek: Deep Space 9 were not allowed to change even one small word in a sentence without prior approval from the writers. They had to absolutely say it as it was written. For good or bad, calling Radar “cute” seem to get laughs so the writers stuck with it.

I do know Radar in later seasons episodes did object to being called cute & short and I believe Hawkeye did in one later episode agreed to stop teasing him about his height so someone must have decided enough was enough.
KMT6600 1 month ago
I love Radar miss him when when he sent home he was the laughter but i understood he just had enough with the movie then then tv show to much for him he was just to good for us





LoveMETV22 1 month ago
Well, Gary you were/are cute....Perhaps he didn't have a choice about the teddy-bear on M*A*S*H.
Either way he played a great character as " Radar." He was very visible and made a major contribution to the series on the whole.
Coldnorth LoveMETV22 1 month ago
The teddy bear deserved a name and paycheck. Wonder who his agent was
LoveMETV22 Coldnorth 1 month ago
The teddy bear supposedly was named "Tiger", unofficially by Gary Burghoff.
Coldnorth LoveMETV22 1 month ago
I thought I knew all the trivia there was for MASH. Thanks for adding more trivia for me. Never enough trivia. Merry Christmas. And Happy New Year
Zip Coldnorth 1 month ago
Probably some stuffed shirt.
JHP Coldnorth 1 month ago
it was Smokey the Bear:)
Andybandit 1 month ago
I didn't realize Radar was only 18yrs old on the show. I loved he cared about animals.
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