Odessa Cleveland is probably the most-missed nurse to disappear from M*A*S*H

She went on to become a poet and teacher.

On M*A*S*H, it wasn’t too unusual for a nurse to appear, then disappear.

It’s common for fans to wonder whatever happened to Nurse Cutler or Nurse Dish.

But according to the book M*A*S*H F.A.Q., it’s nurse Lt. Ginger Bayliss whom fans probably most missed after her sudden departure from the show.

Played by Odessa Cleveland, Ginger Bayliss was introduced in M*A*S*H’s first season and appeared in 26 episodes.

For Cleveland, it was her first major TV role, following an appearance on The Bold Ones.

Not much is known about Cleveland’s career, but it’s reported that her dream from a young age was not to be an actor, but a physical education teacher.

She wound up getting a degree in P.E. from a famous football college in Louisiana called Grambling, but instead, she moved to Hollywood, where she quickly got booked for TV commercials without having any agent.

Once in Los Angeles, Cleveland took a job as a receptionist at a famous writing workshop called Watts Writers Workshop, where she also contributed as a writer.

Because the Writers Workshop became so popular, it soon expanded to host a theater group, and Cleveland became a fast standout as an actor of "immense and intense brilliance," according to The Los Angeles Times in 1980.

She caught the right eye and her appearances at the Watts Theater led directly to her casting on M*A*S*H.

For M*A*S*H, Lt. Bayliss was intended to be developed as a romantic interest for Spearchucker Jones.

But while Ginger appeared more often than her love interest and even took on moving episode arcs that she held on her own, producers eventually cut both characters so that audiences had fewer people to track.

Ginger’s final appearance came in a 1975 episode called "The Late Captain Pierce," after which she abruptly disappears from the show.

Cleveland continued acting in the Seventies and Eighties, appearing on TV shows and in TV movies, including a guest spot on Trapper John, M.D.

As the roles — mainly nurses — stopped interesting Cleveland, she pivoted back to her original love of writing, publishing poems in magazines for many years.

She also eventually made use of her P.E. degree and became a teacher at the Los Angeles Unified School District for a brief period.

After that, as Florida Today reported in 2006, Cleveland "stayed out of the limelight," doing one last TV movie in 2010, but not seen onscreen since.

Watch M*A*S*H on MeTV!

Weeknights at 6 PM, Sundays at 7 PM

*available in most MeTV markets
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?


Susan00100 28 months ago
Phys. Ed. was one of my two worst subjects in school--the other one being math.
KJExpress Susan00100 28 months ago
Same here. 😝
Coldnorth KJExpress 28 months ago
Me tooooo
Walterpowelljr 28 months ago
This is so weird, I was actually looking her up because I was wondering why she wasn't on the series anymore and now this article popped up about Ms Cleveland! She was one of my favorites too! Nurse Bayliss and Nurse Kellye were the best. I Love this old show!
KevinButler 28 months ago
Poor Ms.Cleveland..I'm sorry that her acting career didn't continue..but..I'm glad that she became a P.E.instructor and a poet. I hope that she is ok.
Pacificsun KevinButler 28 months ago
Keng1719 28 months ago
"They got you down as white,good job baby"
One of my favorite lines throughout the whole series.
Walterpowelljr Keng1719 28 months ago
I loved that episode too!
CoreyC 28 months ago
I loved the Ginger role. Odessa was a good actress and gave her heart and humor. As for Spearchucker Jones it was astounding that they allowed a black character with such an offending name. I know it had to do that he was a football player. His character was eliminated cause their was no black doctors serving in a MASH unit during the Korean War.
NickG 28 months ago
Thank you for that story. She was one of my favorites.
Deleted 28 months ago
This comment has been removed.
CelticTwilight 28 months ago
Racist troll, is gonna troll.
dangler1907 28 months ago
Remember to flag it. Someone will delete it.
KV 28 months ago
Funny how Lt. Dish, perhaps one of the most beautiful of all the nurses to appear on M*A*S*H, had her name mentioned as "stationed at the 4077" at the end of the pilot, then...poof...gone..never to be seen again. Any back story on that?
57Tbird KV 28 months ago
In the original M*A*S*H movie with Donald Sutherland, Lt. Dish like in the pilot was a (trying to be tasteful) was a woman for the night. In the pilot that was it, in the movie she transfered out.
Otis49 28 months ago
I liked both kisses and wish I had been in Hawkeye's place. Loretta should have been listed sooner in the credits, not behind McLean, BJ, Potter, or Trapper. By the way, does anyone else dislike the BJ character besides me? He was the most selfish, inconsiderate, self-absorbed jerk in the show. I could never be friends with someone like that.
Walterpowelljr Otis49 28 months ago
AMEN OTIS49, I'm with you, He was the worst character to add to the show! To me he just never fit with the rest of the cast!
Susan00100 Otis49 28 months ago
Oh, c'mon! BJ was worlds above the PITA's Hawkeye and Frank Burns.
LoveMETV22 28 months ago
I thought the character played by Jeanne Schulherr, who appeared in two M*A*S*H episodes, once as an
anesthetist the other as a nurse (both uncredited) from the story MeTV did last September was the most missed. Appear/disappear, potato/potatoe, guess it's in how you view it. LOL.
MrsPhilHarris 28 months ago
I liked her character. She was part of the purge. Besides her and Spearchucker there were other peripheral characters that disappeared.
Andybandit 28 months ago
She was one of the victims of meany Frank Burns. In one of episodes he was yelling Ginger in the Operating Room. I didn't see her much that episode.
Susan00100 Andybandit 28 months ago
Hawkeye and Trapper consoled her by degrading Burns.
WordsmithWorks 28 months ago
"(A) famous football college in Louisiana called Grambling?" Really?
Load previous comments
JHP WordsmithWorks 28 months ago
Me-Tv was just rambling about Grambling
Susan00100 CaptainDunsel 28 months ago
Sorry to tell you, but Harry is still with us!!
CaptainDunsel Susan00100 28 months ago
Hmmm - I wonder why I thought otherwise?
Susan00100 28 months ago
This comment has been removed.
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?