Leaving the battlefield of medical humor in the military Gary Burghoff, who portrayed Radar on M*A*S*H, put his career on hold to work on his crumbling family.
The son of the 79-year-old actor, Miles “Sonar” Burghoff, just gave birth to a daughter.
Miles shared a photo of himself with his newborn daughter in late March of 2023.
I reeled in the biggest 8-pounder of my life today,” it proclaims. Rylee Elisabeth Burghoff, please introduce yourself.
Miles is a professional fisherman because he inherited his dad’s passion for the sport from him. “He’s the one who really started me out,” Burghoff’s son said of his father at a fishing competition.
His father answered, “I’m just here to offer moral support. This is a testament to parents doing what they love with their kids.”
Despite not following in his father’s footsteps professionally, Miles nevertheless shares a name with the legendary Radar. “I was dubbed the name Sonar because my father had the role of Radar on the TV series MAS*H,” Miles said.
Burghoff’s two boys, Miles and Jordan, come from his marriage to Elizabeth Bolstrom (whom he wed in 1985 and divorced in 2005). In November of 2019, Bolstrom passed away.
There wasn’t much for Burghoff to take with him when he departed MAS*H.
“I didn’t leave MAS*H a wealthy man,” Burghoff said in an interview with People. “I could have renegotiated my contract, but money wasn’t the most important thing in my life…You either want to be rich and famous, or you want to be a daddy. You can’t do both.”
Several sitcoms in the 1980s wanted to cast Burghoff, but he turned down roles on shows like Newhart in favor of performing in regional theater. To that aim, he continued, “I wanted to pick the number of weeks I’d work and spend the rest of the time with my family.”
His brief but promising run in the theater was no match for his breakthrough performance on MAS*H.
The series starred Burghoff as Cpl. Walter ‘Radar’ O’Reilly, a naive farm lad who served as the company clerk (and occasionally bugler) for the U.S. Army’s Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) during the Korean War (1950–1953). The show ran for seven seasons, from 1972 to 1983.
As far as we can tell, Burghoff is the only actor to play the same part in both the TV series and the film (1970).
The film also included Donald Sutherland, Robert Duvall, and Sally Kellerman, who was nominated for an Oscar for her portrayal of Major Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan (Loretta Swit’s character in the TV series).
According to reports, Burghoff’s busy schedule began to take a toll on his personal life after he appeared in each episode for the first three seasons. As a result, Burghoff’s character only appeared in 13 episodes in seasons four and five.
Radar was written out of the show in the seventh season, with a two-part farewell called Good-Bye Radar that detailed his discharge from the military.
MAS*H director Charles S. Dubin discussed Burghoff’s marital problems in an interview with The Television Academy Foundation.
Dubin added that Burghoff “couldn’t go on” after watching the Goodbye Radar episodes in which the protagonist must bid goodbye to the woman he loves.
“I couldn’t go on. He broke into tears and I had to stop everything for 15 minutes and walk him around the backlot of Fox.” Later, Dubin said, “In the script, he was talking about a future with her, possibly, (which) related to his own domestic problems. I think that was a large part of it.”
The original cast of MAS*H, including Alan Alda as Captain Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce, Loretta Swit as “Hot Lips” Houlihan, and Jamie Farr as Sgt. Maxwell Q. Klinger, stayed on for another three seasons.
Burghoff returned to his role as Radar for two episodes of the spinoff series AfterMash, as well as for the unaired series WALTE*R, which told the narrative of Radar’s life after MASH.
The producers had offered Burghoff a $US4 million contract to come back, but he turned it down. 1991 was the year that “the money ran out,” and Burghoff was on the verge of collapse.
It was reported that he claimed, “I was down to my last $500,” in a People magazine interview.
After inventing the fish-attracting device Chum Magic, the off-Broadway actor, jazz musician, stamp collector, and inventor Burghoff sought to create a new work of art.
Burghoff began selling his canvases of oil paintings of North American wildlife in galleries for $25,000.
Maybe you’ll get lucky and find one at auction today.
To help those who lost everything in the California fires four years ago, Burghoff donated to a GoFundMe page.
Fans praised his acting and efforts despite the fact that he appears older in the video released by his son Jordan.
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One said, “OMG I remember him when I was just a child watching mash. He still has the same voice and looks.” Another commented, “Good to see you Mr. Burghoff, I’m donating not just because of the need, but because I feel I owe you something. As a kid I watched MASH and loved your work. Now my wife and I are enjoying it all over again on Netflix. You made me laugh, feel, and think, and I appreciated all of that. Jordan, thanks for posting this.”
It’s a good thing the world has folks like Gary Burghoff!
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