The hotshot helicopter pilot on M*A*S*H was the namesake for another classic TV show

He was suggested for the lead too, but he didn't have enough "star power".

In the season four episode "Smilin' Jack," we meet a helicopter pilot who seems to have everything going for him. He charms Hawkeye and Col. Potter alike, he asks out a pretty nurse, and he's even up for the Pilot of the Year Award. He's three people away from bringing in the most wounded and setting the record, currently held by a pilot known as "Dangerous Dan."

Of course, everything is going a little too well for Smilin' Jack. It's revealed that he's been hiding his diabetes diagnosis, because he wouldn't be allowed to fly with it. He's insistent on breaking the record and no amount of pulling rank or stern talk can dissuade him.

The man behind Smilin' Jack, Robert Hogan, was already a familiar face to audiences in 1976. While he never landed a main cast role for a critically acclaimed series, he made guest appearances in more than 90 shows over five decades. He also played recurring characters on beloved shows like Alice, General Hospital, Days of Our Lives, Murder, She Wrote and many, many more.

He was also well-loved behind the camera. Bernard Fine, the writer-creator of Hogan's Heroes named the lead character after Robert Hogan. Now that's a friend! Fine pushed for Hogan to take the main role as well, but the network wasn't sold. They wanted a bigger name with more star power behind it for the lead, and at the time, Hogan had some solid soap opera experience and guest spots on shows like The Twilight Zone and The Donna Reed Show, but it wasn't enough.

Obviously Bob Crane got the lead role instead. However, the show would forever carry Hogan's name in Fine's tribute to his friend. Robert Hogan must not have been too upset, because he would go on to guest star twice on the show ("Reservations are Required" and "Crittendon's Commandos").

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MikefromJersey 31 months ago
Good effort MeTV Staff, finding out where Hogan got his name. I bet nobody here had known of
this before. By the way, writers are known for slipping in the names of people they know/knew
into scripts. Wouldn't you do the same? On 1950's Westerns especially, they would put the names
of people they knew on wanted posters.
For instance the writers from competing shows on other networks. LA Dodger players faces would
be on wanted posters. Some of the players would show up, unbilled, on The Rifleman, as third
banana bad guys.
There were many other examples but it's been so many years since I read about this I can't
recall the details. Anyway, check out the wanted posters for in jokes.
JustGeri 32 months ago
A fine character actor of the highest caliber. I knew him most from Another World but tis always great to see him turn up in this show or that show. Hard to imagine anyone but Bob Crane as Col. Hogan, but now reading this and seeing the above picture, I can imagine him in the role. Yet Bob Crane was great and Mr. Hogan was equally great in all his various roles over his career.
rycki1138 32 months ago
The last name of the creator of Hogan's Heroes was Fein, not Fine.
JosephScarbrough 32 months ago
Robert Hogan (the actor) did actually make a guest appearance on HOGAN'S HEROES at least once. The episode "Reservations are Required," he was a particularly rock-happy prisoner making his way through Stalag 13 with about twenty other escapees, and his impatience nearly jeopardizes Hogan's plans to get ALL of them back to England safely.
RufusR 32 months ago
If he had gotten the role were they going to keep the character's name as "Robert Hogan?" That would be kinda odd having the actor's name the same as the character name. I think Bob Newhart did that a time or two though.
Jon RufusR 32 months ago
Bob Newhart played Bob Hartley, Dick Loudon, Bob McKay, and George Stoody, but he never played a character named Bob Newhart. I think Jerry Seinfeld was the first to play a character with his own name, a fictionalized version of himself, then Drew Carey, Jeff Foxworthy, and eventually Larry David did the same.
rycki1138 Jon 32 months ago
George Burns and Gracie Allen and Jack Benny played characters with their real first and last names on their shows. Ozzie, Harriet, Ricky, and David Nelson did, too.
MikefromJersey rycki1138 31 months ago
Could catch, rycki. You can add in Lou Costello and Bud Abbott.
JHP 32 months ago
the orange trick still amazes me
jewkesman 32 months ago
I wonder why a Diabetes Prognosis means no fly, and with the larger amount of service members turning Diabetic from the carbs and sugar in the chow and any candy or bread and pop or alcohol they can get ahold of, could/ does that rule stand? Did they not have basic BS control methods back then and MREs he could have ate to keep sugars level? Did they know Diabetes in the 50s? Was this episode meant to tell diabetics to give up?
StephenFord Robert3500 32 months ago
Tell us you didn't see the episode without SAYING you didn't see the episode...
CarolKelley Robert3500 32 months ago
They've made a lot of advances in diabetes treatment over the last 70 years. If someone operating heavy machinery or even driving a car were to have a sudden problem with their blood sugar, it could lead to disaster. Years ago, diabetics might not even be able to get a driver's license. Now, we have devices that track blood sugar continuously so that is not a problem.
WilliamJorns CarolKelley 31 months ago
Diabetes sufferers can receive a license to pilot a private plane if they show that they have controlled their blood glucose levels for at least six months. However, they must also qualify for some pre-flight and in-flight procedures. Individuals with insulin pumps can also get this license. This type of flying requires a Level 3 medical certificate. With a Level 2 medical certificate a pilot can fly commercial planes with some limited privileges. But If one is diagnosed with diabetes (either Type 1 or 2) then he/she cannot possess this license if they are insulin dependent.
WordsmithWorks 32 months ago
Was curious about his "Twilight Zone" appearance. In the episode where an older woman on horseback (Diana Hyland) was trying to stop her younger self (also Diana Hyland) from marrying a future bum, Hogan was the future bum.
RufusR WordsmithWorks 32 months ago
As I recall she had a choice between "future bum" and "future success" and she chose future bum.
WordsmithWorks RufusR 32 months ago
You are correct, sir. Twilight Zone was the best.
Runeshaper 32 months ago
Robert Hogan aka Smilin' Jack had a super popular show named after him! Even though he didn't get to star on the show, having it names after him must've been pretty AWESOME! Showing up in over 90 shows says a lot too.
CoreyC 32 months ago
Robert Hogan was a bad cop who protected his killer son in Law & Order.
Jon CoreyC 32 months ago
He also played a criminal, alongside Bradford Dillman as a murderer, in the premiere episode of BARNABY JONES.
Andybandit 32 months ago
I like that episode with the pilot that has diabetes. I also like Hogan's Heroes. As Shultz said "I know nothing, I see nothing".
MrsPhilHarris 32 months ago
Because I didn’t read the first few sentences properly, I thought the story was going to be about him being considered for a lead role in MASH (Hawkeye). All that registered was MASH and suggested for the lead. I need to start reading the whole story thoroughly. 🤓

Zip 32 months ago
Never knew Hogan's Heroes was named for him. Neat.
I liked that episode of MASH that he was in. He was in an episode of Newhart that I like as well, playing a Senator whose wife runs off to the Stratford Inn because she doesn't feel needed. It's a funny ep!
DIGGER1 32 months ago
R.I.P. TO ROBERT HOGAN(B.09/28/1933-D.05/27/2021).

LoveMETV22 32 months ago
I like the M*A*S*H episode "Smilin' Jack". And the list of shows he appeared in guest appearances is impressive. He was a good actor. Not to shabby having a show in his namesake either even though he only had two guest star appearances.
teire 32 months ago
Always thought Robert Hogan was very handsome.
cperrynaples 32 months ago
This post is really a rehash of the tribute they wrote for Hogan after his death earlier this year! Fun Fact: Bob Crane was also on The Donna Reed Show!
Michael cperrynaples 32 months ago
It sounded familiar.
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