R.I.P. Timothy Brown, the NFL star who became a M*A*S*H surgeon
After ten years as a football pro, he joined Hawkeye and Trapper. He was 82.
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As Radar O'Reilly, Gary Burghoff was the only actor to portray the same major character in both the 1970 MASH film and the 1972 M*A*S*H television series. However, he was not the only actor to have a significant role in both productions.
Running back Timmy Brown played his final NFL game as a member of the Colts in Super Bowl III. The former Pro Bowl selection played most of his decade-long career with the Philadelphia Eagles. He did not wait until his retirement to make the leap to acting. In 1967, as he was starting his final season with the Eagles, Brown appeared in the season-three premiere of The Wild Wild West, "The Night of the Bubbling Death." He played a character spectacularly named Clint Cartwheel.
Speaking of names, Timmy Brown eventually opted for the more formal Timothy Brown as an actor, in part to avoid confusion with fellow athlete-thespian Jim Brown.
His first film role was MASH, the Robert Altman adaption of Richard Hooker's bestselling Korean War novel MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors. Brown (billed as Tim Brown) played Cpl. Judson.
A few appearances on Adam-12 followed, which then led to his biggest role yet, a regular series gig on M*A*S*H. Brown took the role of Dr. Oliver Harmon "Spearchucker" Jones, a significant character in the novel that only appeared in the first season of the sitcom. He took the role over from Fred Williamson, another NFL star who appeared in MASH.
We learn in "Chief Surgeon Who?" that Dr. Jones was a neurosurgeon. "Outside of the skull, I'm dead," he admits to Hawkeye. The fellow "Swamp" dweller's two most significant episodes are perhaps "The Moose" and "Henry Please Come Home."
After six episodes, however, Dr. Jones disappeared from the 4077th. Some speculate that there were not enough lines to go around, others claim that his racially insensitive nickname would hurt a hit series with a growing audience.
Brown continued to find small guest roles on television throughout the 1980s, from T.J. Hooker to Remington Steele.
Only four actors could boast that they were in both the MASH film and M*A*S*H series. Burghoff and Brown, of course, as well as minor players G. Wood (Brigadier General Hammond) and Corey Fischer (Captain Cardozo / Captain Bandini).
Brown passed away on April 4, according to Fox News.