This overlooked M*A*S*H nurse was a pop singer and part of a Disney favorite

You might know Marcia Strassman from 'Welcome Back, Kotter' and 'Honey, I Shrunk the Kid'.

"Requiem for a Lightweight" may be the third episode of M*A*S*H but it contains a few firsts. It was the first episode to feature William Christopher as Father Mulcahy. If you recall, a different actor, George Morgan, played the character in the pilot episode. This story also features the first-ever Hawkeye salute. We learn Frank Burns' middle initial, Frank W. Burns, when it appears printed on the side of a punching bag. And that's interesting, because later in the series, of course, we learn that Frank's middle name is actually Marion. Just a little continuity error.

But we are here to discuss another first. "Requiem for a Lightweight" debuted a new character, Nurse Margie Cutler. Marcia Strassman played the short-haired brunette. Hawkeye and Trapper are smitten with Cutler — which compels Hot Lips to send her away. Not permanently. Cutler pops up in six episodes throughout the first season. In "Yankee Doodle Doctor," she has fun with Hawkeye and Trapper in a phony Marx Brothers film the 4077th pranksters make. She warms to Hawkeye in "Bananas, Crackers and Nuts" and becomes a ringleader of the other nurses in "Edwina." And then she was gone, making her final appearance in "Ceasefire."

So what happened to Strassman? Well, she landed a much bigger role in Seventies sitcoms.

"A very close friend of mine Peter Meyerson wrote [a] pilot," Strassman explained in an interview with Pop Goes the Culture TV. "And he called me one day and he said, 'I just wrote this pilot and this part is perfect for you.' And there were very few parts then that were perfect for me because I was a little odd — I didn't look like your normal TV wife."

The role was Julie Kotter, wife of schoolteacher Gabe Kotter on Welcome Back, Kotter. Her character eventually goes on to work at Buchanan High School with her husband. You may also recall her "world-famous tuna casserole."

Everett Collection

But that was not the only prominent role for Strassman post-M*A*S*H. The actress went blonde for her key part in the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids film series from Disney. It is almost certain that more people have seen her in this role than any other, considering the franchise includes Honey, I Shrunk the Audience!, an attraction at Epcot, Disneyland, Tokyo Disneyland and Disneyland Paris that operated for more than a decade.

Strassman and Rick Moranis reprised their roles as Diane and Wayne Szalinski for that pseudo-sequel. The official sequel, Honey, I Blew Up the Kid (1992), earned her a Saturn Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

The franchise is slated to make a return with the forthcoming Shrunk. Unfortunately, Strassman passed away in 2014 following a long battle with cancer. 

You might not realize that Strassman made a name for herself in another realm of showbiz before M*A*S*H. A native of the New York / New Jersey area, Strassman recorded a psychedelic pop song called "The Flower Children," which became a hit on the West Coast, especially in San Francisco, the epicenter of the hippie movement, where it climbed to No. 2. She cut a couple more singles that are deliciously steeped in Sixties culture, like "The Groovy World of Jack and Jill" and "Star Gazer."

Her part on M*A*S*H may have been small, but she brought a vibrancy to the tents of the 4077th. She easily could have been a bigger part of the Korean War comedy. But she deserved the bigger spotlight.

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Houts2000 40 months ago
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Lacey 41 months ago
I was trying to go to the "What would you watch on TV in 1991" and it brought me here.
The odd thing is that MASH was over by 1991 as was Welcome Back Kotter.
TheDavBow3 41 months ago
I just listened to Marcia's 3 songs. I think "The Flower Children" is quite good. The other 2, not so good. I think Marcia has hints of Nancy Sinatra and Grace Slick from her Airplane days.
AEDC49 41 months ago
Nothing like getting directed to this when I clicked on "Pick What Would You Watch on TV in 1991?" so why my comments below! this seems a common problem clicking on something and having it be something else and or not at all!! MeTV mess-ups!
AEDC49 41 months ago
I would watch nothing in 1991 so I have nothing to pick! and won't and didn't! nor do I care for anything from the mid 1970's on up! so that's that! I know better and if they would start showing the great variety that there is instead of the same stuff it would show and prove the point!
TheDavBow3 41 months ago
I remember on one of the "Battle of the Network Stars" shows of the late '70s, Gabe Kaplan beat Robert Conrad in a 50 or 100 yard sprint. I remember being it over some disagreement. It was funny. I'm sure the egotistic Conrad thought he could easily beat the frumpy Kaplan. I wonder if it was a bit of a put-on? 🤔😊
Beverlee7 41 months ago
You are my favorite channel and so many awesome shows
Wiseguy 41 months ago
As usual, MeTV is referring to the arbitrary and irrelevant aired order of episodes. William Christopher's first episode was actually the second to be filmed, "Henry, Please Come Home," which aired later in the season. "Requiem for a Lightweight" was the eighth episode filmed.
Wiseguy 41 months ago
Both Larry Linville and Marcia Strassman appeared on The Rockford Files the year following their last season on their respective shows (M*A*S*H and Kotter).
MichaelSkaggs 41 months ago
Her first appearance on television didn't even have her on the set. During the first season of "Ironside" we only see two photos of her. When his character was shot and would be in a wheelchair for the rest of his life, Raymond Burr (Chief Ironside) got a large number of cards and letters, one of them was from Marcia's character, a young pop singer. When he gets word she had committed suicide, he begins to investigate what really happened. We even get to hear one of her records. He reopens the case because he couldn't believe some who could write as positive and beautiful a letter to would want to kill herself. I hope Ironside will be returning to the Me-TV schedule and you can see it for yourself.
Wiseguy MichaelSkaggs 41 months ago
And Loretta Swit's first appearance on Hawaii Five-0 had her character killed off in teaser of the episode. At least she got Jack Lord himself to view the body before he covered it with a sheet. She subsequently made two other more substantial appearances on the show (including a two-parter with "Yankee Doodle Doctor" actor Ed Flanders).
JoeGuenther Wiseguy 41 months ago
Why doesn't anyone air or stream the original Five-O?
tonygaloppe JoeGuenther 40 months ago
You can watch all seasons of Hawaii Five-O on Paramount + (it used to be CBS All Access) with a subscription. I pay for the subscription because I'm tired of watching old TV shows being edited or censored because it doesn't meet the political correctness of today.
Tlor 41 months ago
Nobody wanted them in SF, when they left 'overnight' they left Haight Ashbury, and all the beautiful Victorian homes, looking like a slum in the tenderloin. They had drugs all over the park and sm awful group of tramps and it was nice when they left. The residue is all sweetness and light but it was ugh.
dangler1907 Tlor 41 months ago
Boo Hoo.
DerekBird Tlor 36 months ago
You sound like you were one of those that they were calling "The man" they were protesting against.
JDnHuntsvilleAL 41 months ago
Wow, she's really not a very good singer, is she?
Tlor JDnHuntsvilleAL 41 months ago
well there was a lot of people on records, they didn't all sing well :-)
DerekBird Tlor 36 months ago
And yet they still manage to become sell millions. They say that taste is supposed to be subjective, I say that bad taste is just BAD TASTE.
MrsPhilHarris 41 months ago
I always liked the recurring characters that appeared on MASH in the early years such as Ugly John, Spearchucker, Nurse Dish, etc. They all just disappeared.
JoeGuenther MrsPhilHarris 41 months ago
What's funny is that Spearchuckers bunk is used by Sydney Freidman in the episode where he writes to Sigmund Freud.
justjeff 41 months ago
Trivia: "The Flower Children" was the 6th release on the then-new Uni label (now part of Universal Music, but then owned by MCA) a label that was started by industry executive Russ Regan.

Useless trivia: Gabe Kaplan (along with former California Sen. Barbara Boxer and former Columbia Records and Arista Records executive Clive Davis) went to the same elementary school that I attended when I lived in Brooklyn, NY - PS 161. I just came along a bit later then they did!
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justjeff TheDavBow3 41 months ago
Take all of the masters from Kapp, Uni, Decca, Coral, Brunswick, Chess, Checker, Argo, ABC, Paramount, Duke, Peacock, MCA and the dozens of other associated labels and you can see the immenseness of the tragedy of the Universal fire about a dozen years ago that obliterated over 100,000 recordings (despite the denials of Universal Music) including alternate takes, studio chatter and unreleased material.
TheDavBow3 justjeff 41 months ago
Oh yes, I remember a little about that. What a tragedy!
moax429 justjeff 40 months ago
Thanks for refreshing my memory about those other Uni hits.

I think "Build Me Up, Buttercup" is now owned by another company, though, not Universal/Geffen.
justjeff moax429 40 months ago
It was a British track, so the rights may have reverted to Pye, the original releasing label. Funny coincidence - but just as I was typing this reply, the Geico commercial using "Build Me Up, Buttercup" just came on the TV!
Andybandit 41 months ago
I liked her on Welcome Back Kotter and Mash.
DIGGER1 41 months ago
Yeah, I liked Marcia Strassman better as "Julie Kotter" on "WELCOME BACK, KOTTER". She was a lot funnier on that show than she was on "M.A.S.H.".
DerekBird DIGGER1 36 months ago
She also had a bigger role on Kotter than on M*A*S*H.
teire 41 months ago
She had an every girl/every woman persona that made her very appealing in every role.
JoeGuenther teire 41 months ago
I like when Epstein tells Kotter she's very hot or something similar to that.
Than Kotter says "Epstein that's my wife." A good show until Travolta left.
DerekBird JoeGuenther 36 months ago
Revolta leaving made it better.
WordsmithWorks 41 months ago
M*A*S*H* couldn't have a strong female lead to compete with Margaret as de facto leader of the nurses, as any chief love interest of Hawkeye would be. I believe this kind of competition for the Alpha role is the main reason why Wayne Rogers and McLean Stevenson left the show.
HerbF WordsmithWorks 41 months ago
McLean Stevenson was offered a contract by NBC to "jump ship" and join the network - however, after several years, the only successful things he did at NBC was guest hosting THE TONIGHT SHOW (and he was in line to get the show if Johnny Walked!), and HELLO, LARRY, which lasted 2 seasons. Everything else he did for NBC failed.
MichaelSkaggs HerbF 41 months ago
His name has become a verb. "Doing a McLean Stevenson" now means making a decision that will destroy your career in Hollywood.
harlow1313 41 months ago
I never cared much for Kotter, but I always noticed Ms. Strassman on M*A*S*H*. I think she is pretty.
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Moody 41 months ago
I never thought Gabe was funny either. And I can’t stand John Travolta to this day.
Wiseguy KathyMcKinny 41 months ago
Sounds to me like he didn't want to start an argument that you want to start.
DerekBird cabugi 36 months ago
I liked Kaplan but I hate Revolta.
DerekBird cabugi 36 months ago

I cringe every time I how she died.
Marcia Strassman died in March 2007, Strassman was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer that had spread to her bones. Her memoir (2008) Life with a Side Order of Cancer, in which she discussed her life, career and illness, was published in 2008. Strassman died of the disease at her home in Sherman Oaks, California, on October 24, 2014. She was 66 years old. She had a daughter, Elizabeth Collector (from her 1984 to 1989 marriage to Robert Collector).
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