McLean Stevenson defended Loretta Swit from a producer at the ''M*A*S*H'' rehearsal table

The M*A*S*H cast went to bat for each other.

Say what you will about Henry Blake, but you certainly can't say many mean things about McLean Stevenson. Just as the characters on M*A*S*H spent years banding together and treating one another as family, Stevenson was quick to defend his castmates fiercely, even in the face of his bosses.

In an interview with The Baltimore Sun, Loretta Swit revealed that when she first arrived at M*A*S*H, she wasn't completely included in the creative process. While actors obviously don't share the same job as writers or directors, they do, to an extent, act as the caretakers of that character, and as such, it requires them to have a deep understanding of them. No doubt some of Swit's ideas about Margaret were good ones, but in the interview, she stated that she simply couldn't get anyone to take them seriously.

Swit said, "I went through a period in my first three years on the show when I would try to make suggestions about my character. Everyone appeared to be listening, but it was more a case of 'Thank you — next.'"

It wasn't until Swit was lent a hand by her fellow castmate, Stevenson, who came up with a crafty way to demonstrate that Swit was worth believing in.

She recounted, "I'll never forget something McLean Stevenson did. I made a suggestion at the rehearsal table one day. One of the producers said no, he didn't think that would work. So 10 minutes later McLean made the same suggestion, but in a deeper voice — which of course meant he got more respect. The same producer said it was a terrific idea. And McLean said, 'Why didn't you think so when Loretta said the same thing 10 minutes ago?'"

It's a sweet story that highlights the friendship between the two actors, an undercurrent that existed throughout the entirety of the M*A*S*H cast. Even in the face of those more powerful than you, a true friend is willing to stand up for you and speak out when you're being wronged.

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2 Comments

sagafrat69 4 months ago
In the episode "Edwina", the original story was a fat nurse the camp wanted to help get laid so to speak. At the table read Swit said the premise of a "fat girl" was offensive and she wouldn't do the episode as written. After much debate with the male writers, the character was written as a klutzy nurse. Turned out to be one of the funniest slapstick shows of the series. The scene with Hawk and Eddy in the Swamp is classic t.v. Have to mention Arlene Golonka who was terrific. Props to Swit for standing her ground. She pushed back when pushing back was
needed.
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