Mike Farrell was terrified when he first took his role on M*A*S*H

When Farrell joined the cast of M*A*S*H, the pressure was high, but the show's ratings proved higher.

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Mike Farrell played the role of Capt. B.J. Hunnicutt on M*A*S*H for a total of 179 episodes. He joined the series after Wayne Rogers, who played Capt. Trapper John McIntyre, departed at the end of the show's third season.

Joining any cast after they've already seen success from prior seasons must come with some amount of pressure. And for Farrell, it did. 

Farrell did an interview with Honolulu Star-Bulletin in 1976 while on vacation in Hawaii. He said he was scared when he first took the role of Hunnicutt.

"I was plain terrified," he started. "It was a family that had been living together for three years, and I was the adopted son. And not only that, but I have billing over everyone in the cast except Alan Alda. So I was not only the new guy, but the new guy on top of everyone."

Farrell joined the cast when M*A*S*H ratings were at a low, so a lot was riding on him being successful in the role. According to the actor, no one had ever told him a "satisfactory explanation of what makes a TV series go."

"I figured all that had to happen was I'd be the guy who torpedos M*A*S*H," he said. "Fortunately that didn't happen."

It turned out that Farrell's fright wasn't justified. Not only do we know how well-rated M*A*S*H became, but we also know how successful Farrell was in the role of Capt. Hunnicutt. 

Farrell said he was surprised by how open and welcoming the cast was. With all of his success on M*A*S*H, he said he still didn't consider it his break. 

"I've had so many big breaks... but M*A*S*H is the biggest thing for me in terms of public visibility," he said. "It's my biggest step, I suppose."

The pressure was high for Farrell, but he handled it just like a Captain would.

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27 Comments

JHP 15 months ago
Well as I remember his debut - that ep he (maybe) had to fall in a mud hole face first taking care of soldiers that got hit from artillery. That would hurt big time!
MC1707 15 months ago
Hunnicutt was such a better match for the show. His character was much better than the role of Trapper. The characters of Hunnicutt and Pierce just worked so much better together. Rating also improved, that says a lot.
CoreyC 16 months ago
In the later years of M*A*S*H Alan Alda had an almost total control of the show.
cperrynaples 16 months ago
IMPORTANT MESSAGE: MeTV's sister channel Decades has changed its weekend marathon! To pay tribute to Cindy Williams & Lisa Loring, they will run a Laverne & Shirley marathon tomorrow and an Addams Family marathon Sunday!
Mblack 16 months ago
He'll always be Jerry Robinson to me.
Catman Mblack 16 months ago
He'll always be Hieronymus Bosch to me, but I was a victim of peer pressure.
Zip Catman 15 months ago
I have no idea who any of those characters are. I only know Beej as Beej.
Mblack Zip 15 months ago
In 1974, there was a Gene Roddenberry tv movie, Questor Tapes. Another pilot that didn't make it to series. Robert Foxworth was the android, Mike Ferrell, Jerry Robinson, was the technician that helped him along. I don't think I noticed Mike Ferrell before that. It was a change to see him on MASH.
JHP Zip 15 months ago
I agree with zip fer sure
Shakes 16 months ago
Guess I'll be "that guy", but Mike Farrell was my least favorite actor on M*A*S*H. I thought his charectar was a whiny, sniveling "better than thou" man who was also selfish. I'm so glad the actors are different from their characters.
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Pacificsun Coldnorth 15 months ago
This isn't really to push the point across re: MASH. In fact it was posted somewhere else for a different reason regarding another discussion. But it provides a little history regarding the art of communication, which I thought you might enjoy. Regarding 𝒗𝒊𝒓𝒕𝒖𝒂𝒍 𝒇𝒓𝒊𝒆𝒏𝒅𝒔 we call them 𝙍𝙚𝙜𝙪𝙡𝙖𝙧𝙨 here. And you're certainly welcomed to be one of them. When Disqus offered free channels, one was called the Fan Club Cafe. Where we had the time and space to drill down on stories which MeTV can only write briefly. Plus Watch Parties, March Madness and great images! We'd generate 400 comments at times. And our focus was on classic TV, with a side of music and pertinent movies if they related in some way. And 3 full time writers! I guess that "vibe" has stuck with us. Because we worked hard to avoid the alternative, and make it family-friendly.

Here's the other comment.
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Interesting dynamic here.

I've been a part of this website for years, including when Disqus was the publisher's platform. And conversation-wise there were no holds barred. I mean, individuals would rip each other, insisting on their point, through 10 exchanges of conflict. That's how bad it got. Many were banned from the site.

The point?

When the Website changed to the current platform, the new Service did remove some disadvantageous elements, and got rid of all the spam. Gradually the community increased again, and learned to balanced exchanges, civil discussions, and offer examples to illustrate their points. So the focus was on something objective, and not the other person. And that's what I try to do, like with the MASH discussion (BJ vs. Trapper). Meaning it's kind of nice to know why!

Or I stay away from the Shows I dislike and don't get involved. You know, because those Shows (those actors) mean entertainment for other people, and maybe a few are truly their favorites. I 𝒘𝒐𝒖𝒍𝒅 be very defensive of my own if they were on here.

IMO it's never my job (purpose) to bring someone else down, here. People need to agree to disagree, and move on, without having to revisit the conflict, repeatedly.

Here's my example. On another website, to which I was newly introduced and with no history of it to my name. I watched (read) the self-appointed facilitator flattering others with compliments and attention. And was denied replies or affirmation of my own. No one came after me, aggressively; I can hold my own. But it was the disrespect of being ignored, without any qualification. Because with everyone else, it was really fun.

When I brought the matter up with the person involved, in trying to figure out how to be compatible. Without any elaboration or faith in another person's good intention. The reply was. "𝙔𝙤𝙪 𝙠𝙣𝙤𝙬, 𝙄 𝙟𝙪𝙨𝙩 𝙙𝙤𝙣'𝙩 𝙩𝙝𝙞𝙣𝙠 𝙚𝙫𝙚𝙧𝙮𝙤𝙣𝙚 𝙞𝙨 𝙢𝙚𝙖𝙣𝙩 𝙩𝙤 𝙗𝙚 𝙡𝙞𝙠𝙚𝙙."

It took me a very long time to figure that life-lesson out. But it taught me that 𝒂𝒄𝒄𝒆𝒑𝒕𝒂𝒏𝒄𝒆 is surely in the eye of the beholder.

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I've been enjoying all your comments and look forward to them continuing! 😉
Coldnorth Pacificsun 15 months ago
Thanks for the conversation. I enjoy your comments also.
Coldnorth Pacificsun 15 months ago
I have read your comment to me, all the way through. I find the whole thing very interesting. We share a lot of the same thoughts. We articulate those thoughts with different words, but I believe it makes an interesting read. It’s sometimes hard to get a point across while typing, mostly because you can’t see the reaction, only by reading it. Trapper and BJ were almost the same person because they really did have the same point of view, they just used different words, situations, and attitudes. Very complex characters. I appreciate the thought you put into your comments and gave me something to think about. Feel free to continue commenting to me. And thanks for the invite to be a regular. I enjoy it here
scumby Shakes 13 months ago
True. BJ an annoying holier-than-thou bore when MASH became a weekly lecture by Hollywood leftists. And we do not need to site HOA poster to lecture you on what you can or can't post.
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