R.I.P. Richard Lee-Sung, a M*A*S*H actor who actually served in the Korean War

The Texas native was a bartender in Chinatown before becoming a guest star in the 4077th.

In the 1974 M*A*S*H episode "Officer of the Day," Hawkeye has a lot of luck — well, "Lucks." Multiple locals named "Kim Luck" show up at the 4077th for treatment. Jamie Farr (Klinger) cites it as one of his favorite episodes. It likely held a fond place in the memory of the second Kim in the story, played by Richard Lee-Sung. It was his M*A*S*H debut.

Lee-Sung would go on to appear in 11 episodes of the iconic dramedy, memorably as a pushy salesman in "Bug Out," as a creative French horn repairman in "The Smell of Music," and running a craps game in "A Night at Rosie's." For the Texas native, it was a step back in time. He had served in the Korean War.

As one of the "Chosen Few," Lee-Sung fought in the Battle of Chosin Reservoir as a member of the U.S. Marines. Later, he left his hometown of El Paso behind and settled in Los Angeles. There, the man of Mexican-Chinese heritage found work and notoriety in Chinatown. As a bartender at L.A. joints like Tang's and General Lee's, the bald fellow who liked to be called "Curlee" reportedly delighted customers. He would eventually perform as a comic at General Lee's, according to a newspaper profile from 1975.

That summer of '75, Lee-Sung had landed a role as an ensemble player in Keep on Truckin', a short-lived variety show that also cast young talents such as Billy Crystal and Didi Conn. By that point, he had a M*A*S*H appearance under his belt, as well as guest spots on Kung Fu

As his star began to rise, he nabbed roles in The Apple Dumpling Gang, Happy DaysThe Incredible Hulk and The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries. His M*A*S*H ties continued in the '80s, as he popped up in both Trapper John, M.D. and AfterMASH.

Over Thanksgiving weekend, the MASH Matters Podcast posted an announcement from Richard's son Russell on Facebook: "We are deeply saddened to announce that veteran character actor and beloved M*A*S*H guest star Richard Lee Sung passed away at the age of 91 on August 16th, 2021."

"Those [M*A*S*H] roles were some of his best memories as an actor working with an amazing cast, crew and director (Alan Alda) whom he had the highest respect," Russell wrote. He was 91 years old.

Watch M*A*S*H on MeTV!

One Full Hour

This Week at 7 PM

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

40 Comments

Post a comment
57Tbird 8 months ago
This stinks. I loved him in M*A*S*H. RIP.
Coldnorth 57Tbird 8 months ago
He always made me laugh on MASH. His smile was the best part of his character. Never knew what he was up to but a very smart wheeler and dealer
MarkF1 9 months ago
Richard Lee-Sung epitomizes the meme that the old guy in the Korean War VFW hat was once more bad ass than you every will be. Rest in Peace Marine. You're home now, with your brothers in arms and family.
F5Twitster 10 months ago
"As one of the 'Chosen Few,' Lee-Sung fought in the Battle of Chosin Reservoir as a member of the U.S. Marines."

CHOSIN Few.
JanineRandall 10 months ago
One of my favorites is when Frank Burns complained about the watch he was sold running backwards. Lee-Sung told him to try it on his other wrist. Frank went ahead and complied.
RkBke 10 months ago
he was in Whats Happening....No Roger, No Rerun, no rent!
ChristopherRyle71 10 months ago
He was also the villain on the 1986 Chuck Norris and Louis Gossett Jr film "Firewalker."
CaptainDunsel 10 months ago
Zip CaptainDunsel 10 months ago
I never really understood that part where Frank says(in reference to the bust of Potter's head, and directed toward the sculptor): "It looks like YOU!"
I thought it was a pretty good likeness of Col. Potter.
CaptainDunsel Zip 10 months ago
They were sort of subtle about it, but it's the eyes. They have a somewhat Asian cast to them.
JoeSHill 10 months ago
I could be wrong, but this actor also appeared briefly in The NBC movie, "CITY BENEATH THE SEA" that Irwin Allen produced and directed, that aired on January 25, 1971. He may have also appeared in Orion/Warner Bros. "SHARKEY'S MACHINE" (1981), but I could be wrong!
CaptainDunsel JoeSHill 10 months ago
I was recalling that myself. He played one of Admiral Matthews' business staff members in the opening "New York City" scene of CBTS.
Miloan 10 months ago
No one has mentioned his by far funniest eposode! Col Potters anniversary when he sculpted a bust gift of Col Poter for Frank and Margaret. On the way to Potters party he tries to sell Hawkeye and BJ a gift for Potter that he pulls out of his coat..."very valuable...Hitlers pencil box.. " I still bend over whenever this comes on!!!
JHP Miloan 10 months ago
I agree 200%
Zip 10 months ago
I might be paraphrasing the dialogue but it went something like this:
(Either Frank Burns or Hawkeye): "Can you prove you're Kim Luck?"
Kim Luck: "This is me!"
That always made me laugh!
MrsPhilHarris Zip 10 months ago
Same here!
It was Hawkeye.
JHP Zip 10 months ago
that was the Ep that Hawkeye was in charge with Col Potter out of the camp

am sure it was the trapper john suit where the stripes were horizontal - from the tailor that had the kids that stole stuff from the swamp (Marshall and Elroy) - they stole Radars teddy bear
JulieTV Zip 9 months ago
Same with me!! I love that episode! Makes me laugh every time!
StephenFord 10 months ago
I always LOVED him asking the tailor (referring to Charles: "That GI JOE your friend?"
Tailor: "I only make TAILORING for him!"
Sung: "May the SEAT of his pants turn into SCORPION!"
pellinigroup 10 months ago
Other than Col. Flagg, Mr. Lee-Sung was one of the great character actors in MASH. The Officer of the Day was a great episode.
Jeremy 10 months ago
I might be wrong but I seem to remember him someplace else. Wasn't he on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson once when they wondered what would happen to the show if it and NBC was taken over by a Japanese corporation? And when they showed the audience what it might look like, he was in the Ed McMahon role?
Runeshaper 10 months ago
R.I.P. Richard Lee-Sung. 91 is AWESOME and he was a very talented man (-:
cperrynaples 10 months ago
Another bonus question: What other MASH star served in Korea, but NOT as a soldier?
LoveMETV22 cperrynaples 10 months ago
Both Alan Alda and Jamie Farr served in Korea. Neither saw conflict during their service
Farr : served two years on active duty and six in the Army Reserve.
Alda : volunteered with the Army Reserve. He spent six months in South Korea as a gunnery officer. Then was in charge of a mess tent.
cperrynaples LoveMETV22 10 months ago
I knew Jamie was there, but I thought he was with the USO! I know he worked with Red Skelton!
Zip LoveMETV22 10 months ago
So basically IRL Alan Alda was Igor.
MrsPhilHarris Zip 10 months ago
Igor! 😂
LoveMETV22 Zip 10 months ago
Ditto to MPH's response.
WordsmithWorks 10 months ago
"Was outside, now inside." R.I.P., sir.
tootsieg 10 months ago
R.I.P. I liked his character on M*A*S*H* as well. Very funny and cute.
LoveMETV22 10 months ago
R.I.P. Richard Lee-Sung. I liked his character on M*A*S*H.
Andybandit 10 months ago
How sad. I liked him in Mash.
DIGGER1 10 months ago
I've always liked the way that Richard "smiled" on T.V. in other T.V. shows and in the movies. When he smiled like that, you could tell that he had a "HONEST" face. LOL!

R.I.P, RICHARD LEE HOPE TUNISIA SUNG III(B.08/14/1930-D.08/16/2021).
JHP DIGGER1 10 months ago
his smile is dead ringer for Steve Harvey's (family feud host)
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?