Mike Farrell's real wife appeared in eight episodes of M*A*S*H
Their love story spans 20 years and ended when M*A*S*H did.
"I don’t remember leaving a wake-up scream," Mike Farrell's B.J. Hunnicutt says sleepily in the opening scene of the M*A*S*H episode "Out of Sight, Out of Mind."
Two nurses, a blonde and a brunette, have entered the Swamp in the middle of the night, whispering loudly and coming to ask Hawkeye to help after the heat stopped working in their tent. It's not their whispers that disturb B.J., but rather Frank's overreaction to their presence, shouting loudly at the nurses to quiet down.
"It's warm in here," Hawkeye says, jokingly lifting his covers. The brunette scolds Hawkeye, reminding him that there are four nurses in their tent, all freezing. Hawkeye begrudgingly gets up and goes to help the nurses.
The blonde nurse in this opening scene, for those uninitiated to M*A*S*H family history, is actually Farrell's first wife, Judy Farrell. She appears in eight episodes of the show and this fifth season episode is her first appearance.
Judy Farrell was married to Mike for 20 years, divorcing the same year M*A*S*H ended.
In Mike Farrell's biography Just Call Me Mike, he talks at length about their relationship and how Judy got him into acting. They both began their theater careers at the Laguna Playhouse in California, and among the many talented young stars they encountered on this scene was future movie star Harrison Ford.
As Mike and Judy's love grew, so did their love of acting, and Mike decided to shoot his shot and go to Hollywood. Judy was supportive, but the distance strained things between them. She had a life in Laguna, and he was spending all his time in L.A. Still, Judy was thrilled for her husband, Mike writes.
In the beginning, Mike struggled to get the serious parts he wanted, and though he soon got a contract and had a steady paycheck to support his family, he became disappointed with how far he was getting in Hollywood. Then, an opportunity to replace Wayne Rogers on M*A*S*H arose, and Mike said he was definitely interested. He cautiously hoped for the best, being a fan of the M*A*S*H movie.
By this time, Mike and Judy had two kids and had become "doting parents," Mike writes, the kind of devoted parents who others claim stopped being fun to be around.
When Mike got called in to audition for M*A*S*H, he says he was as nervous as a kid on a first date and that he remembers little about that day because his nerves blocked out the memory. Of course, we all know he got the part, and over his time on the show, his wife Judy would also occasionally appear in episodes.
Mike writes of the cast, "They had come to love Judy."
Ultimately, the divorce was a result of their lives continuing to go in different directions. "I was devastated," Mike writes in his book. The couple remained amicable through it all, and both remarried, her to actor Joe Bratcher and him to actor Shelley Fabares.
In her career, Judy Farrell appeared in more than a dozen TV series, including Get Smart, Emergency!, The Partridge Family and Fame. She also wrote more than 100 episodes of Port Charles and an episode of Fame. She appeared the most on M*A*S*H, though, and even got to be a part of the show's famous finale, where she got to see for herself the power of Mike Farrell's acting talent – which she helped bud and bloom – as he helped deliver one of the most poignant final moments in TV history.