CLOSE
Original image
Columbia Pictures Television

25 Future Stars Who Appeared on Seinfeld

Original image
Columbia Pictures Television

Originally titled The Seinfeld Chronicles, the sitcom went from inauspicious origins to become one of the most iconic shows of all time, turning its stars into household names. But Jerry Seinfeld, Jason Alexander, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Michael Richards weren’t the only actors to get their break on the show about nothing. These now-familiar faces appeared in bit parts on the series before making it big.

1. Peter Krause - Tim in "The Limo" (February 26, 1992)

Columbia Pictures Television

On Seinfeld: Before he was spotted driving a hearse on Six Feet Under, Peter Krause played a white supremacist who winds up riding in a limo with Jerry and the gang.

Since Seinfeld: He’s gone on to become a bonafide leading man, most recently on Parenthood.

2. Jeremy Piven - Michael Barth in “The Pilot” (May 20, 1993) 

On Seinfeld: In one of the series’ more meta moments, Piven plays an actor who auditions for the part of George in “The Pilot.”

Since Seinfeld: Piven has had a long career in TV and film since Seinfeld, but his name is now synonymous with irate super agent Ari Gold from HBO’s Entourage.

3. Lauren Graham - Valerie in “The Millennium” (May 1, 1997)

On Seinfeld: She plays Jerry’s speed-dial ranking girlfriend.

Since Seinfeld: A few years after getting dumped by Jerry, Graham landed her most famous role as Lorelai Gilmore on the much-loved Gilmore Girls. She's currently on Parenthood, where she plays Peter Krause's sister.

4. Patton Oswalt - Video store clerk in “The Couch” (October 27, 1994)

On Seinfeld: A fellow stalwart of the mid-nineties stand-up circuit, Patton Oswalt made his first-ever TV appearance as a video store clerk on this episode of Seinfeld.

Since Seinfeld: Oswalt’s career now spans TV, movies, stand-up specials, books, and even video games.

5. Brad Garrett - Tony in “The Bottle Deposit” (May 2, 1996)

On Seinfeld: Garrett had a successful stand-up career and had even performed on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson before his Seinfeld debut, where he played Tony, the mechanic who was deeply dedicated to his craft.

Since Seinfeld: Garrett has lent his dulcet tones to animated hits like Tangled and Finding Nemo, but he’s perhaps most recognized for his role on Everybody Loves Raymond.

6. Michael Chiklis - Steve in “The Stranded” (November 27, 1991)

On Seinfeld: In the early '90s Chiklis was a serial guest-star of shows including Miami Vice, L.A. Law and of course Seinfeld, where he played a friend who lives way out on Long Island.

Since Seinfeld: The same year as his Seinfeld appearance, Chiklis landed his first big role in The Commish, which ran until 1996 on NBC. Since then he’s found fame and critical acclaim on The Shield and starred in blockbusters like Fantastic Four.

7. Jane Leeves - Marla in “The Virgin” (November 11, 1992)

Columbia Pictures Television

On Seinfeld: Pre-Frasier Jane Leeves played the titular virgin in "The Virgin" who eventually leaves Jerry for John F. Kennedy, Jr.

Since Seinfeld: Leeves clearly impressed the NBC brass — she was cast as Daphne on Fraiser just months after “The Virgin” first aired.

8. Jon Favreau - Eric the Clown in “The Fire” (May 5, 1994)

On Seinfeld: Favreau played Eric the Clown, the entertainer at a kids' party that was interrupted by a fire — and George's subsequent cowardly escape.

Since Seinfeld: Favreau turned his own struggles into the surprise hit Swingers, a breakout moment that led to a successful career as an actor, writer, and director.

9. Debra Messing - Beth in “The Yada Yada” (April 24, 1997)

Columbia Pictures Television

On Seinfeld: Messing played Jerry’s date in two episodes of Seinfeld, including classic “The Yada Yada,” where she’s revealed to be a closet racist.

Since Seinfeld: Just a few months after her final outing on Seinfeld, messing would go on to become one of the stars of her own groundbreaking sitcom, Will & Grace.

10. Christine Taylor - Ellen in “The Van Buren Boys” (February 6, 1997)

Columbia Pictures Television

On Seinfeld: Taylor made an early appearance on Seinfeld as one of Jerry's many flames.

Since Seinfeld: She’s starred in hits including Zoolander and Dodgeball. In 2000, she married Ben Stiller, whose dad Jerry starred on Seinfeld as George’s father, Frank Costanza.

11. Courteney Cox - Meryl in “The Wife” (March 17, 1994)

On Seinfeld: Courteney Cox played Meryl, a girlfriend who masquerades as Jerry's wife in order to share his dry cleaning discount.

Since Seinfeld: Cox will always be known for playing Monica during Friends’ decade-long stint next to Seinfeld on Thursday nights.

12. Teri Hatcher - Sidra in “The Implant” (February 25, 1993)

On Seinfeld: The same year that she got her big break opposite Dean Cain in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Teri Hatcher appeared as Jerry's girlfriend Sidra, who Elaine thought had fake breasts. Her oft-quoted retort, “They’re real and they’re spectacular,” told Jerry all he needed to know after it was too late.

Since Seinfeld: Alongside her aforementioned turn as Lois Lane, Hatcher starred as a Bond girl in 1997’s Tomorrow Never Dies before returning to the small screen on ABC’s Desperate Housewives.

13. Marcia Cross - Dr. Sara Sitarides in “The Slicer” (November 13, 1997)

On Seinfeld: Marcia played a life-saving dermatologist who Jerry dismissed as "Pimple Popper M.D."

Since Seinfeld: Cross appeared on shows like Boy Meets World, Ally McBeal, and Spin City before getting her big break on Desperate Housewives.

14. Drake Bell - Kid in “The Frogger” (August 23, 1998)

On Seinfeld: Bell featured in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment from this season nine episode.

Since Seinfeld: A Nickelodeon star turned musician, Bell has come a long way since his Frogger skills (or lack thereof) landed him in George Costanza’s bad books.

15. Jennifer Coolidge - Jodi in “The Masseuse” (November 18, 1993)

On Seinfeld: Another notch on Seinfeld’s bedpost, Coolidge made one of her first TV appearances as the masseuse from this 1993 episode.

Since Seinfeld: Coolidge went on to forge a successful career on the silver screen where she’s perhaps best remembered as Stifler’s mom from the American Pie movies. She’s also still a regular on the sitcom circuit where she has a recurring role on CBS’s 2 Broke Girls.

16. Sarah Silverman - Emily in “The Money” (January 16, 1997)

On Seinfeld: Sarah Silverman popped up as Kramer’s girlfriend Emily whose “Jimmy legs” keep the K-Man up at night, eventually forcing the couple into separate beds.

Since Seinfeld: The sharp-tongued stand-up star has appeared in her own show, released an autobiography, and recently completed the circle by joining Jerry Seinfeld as a guest on his online series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.

17. Denise Richards - Molly Dalrymple in “The Shoes” (February 4, 1993)

On Seinfeld: Playing the daughter of NBC’s head of programming, Richards’ low-cut top almost costs George and Jerry their sitcom in Seinfeld’s meta show-within-a-show fourth season.

Since Seinfeld: She continued to distract the Costanzas of the world in films like Starship Troopers, The World is Not Enough, and Wild Things.

18. Kristin Davis - Jenna in “The Pothole” (February 20, 1997)

On Seinfeld: After unknowingly using a toothbrush that had fallen into the toilet, Davis’ character becomes another in an increasingly long line of Jerry’s ex-girlfriends.

Since Seinfeld: By the time she’d appeared on Seinfeld, Davis was already a familiar face to many armchair dwellers after a starring turn on teen drama Melrose Place. But it wasn’t until a year later that she’d truly hit the big time with her critically acclaimed performance as Sex and the City’s resident prude, Charlotte.

19. Rob Schneider - Bob Grossberg in “The Friar's Club” (March 7, 1996)

On Seinfeld: Rob Schneider had actually opened for Jerry Seinfeld on the stand-up circuit before he appeared on the sitcom as Elaine’s partially deaf colleague in this season 7 episode.

Since Seinfeld: The former SNL cast member has gone on to star in comedies like Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo and Grown-Ups.

20. Amanda Peet - Lanette in "The Summer of George" (May 15, 1997)

On Seinfeld: Peet played Lanette, Jerry's date to the Tonys whose male roommate catches Jerry totally off-guard.

Since Seinfeld: Peet's resumé since Seinfeld includes starring roles in Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and The Whole Nine Yards.

21. Chris Parnell - NBC Executive in "The Butter Shave" (September 25, 1997)

Columbia Pictures Television

On Seinfeld: After purposely sabotaging his own set, Seinfeld is dismayed to find out that two NBC executives (one played by Parnell) were in attendance and offer Jerry's hack nemesis Kenny Bania a pilot.

Since Seinfeld: Parnell later joined the cast of Saturday Night Live and played the hapless Dr. Spaceman on 30 Rock (pictured).

22. James Spader - Jason 'Stanky' Hanky in "The Apology" (December 11, 1997)

On Seinfeld: This one's definitely pushing it—Spader had already been in several notable films before he appeared on Seinfeld—but it was a great performance. He played a recovering alcoholic who, during Step Nine of Alcoholics Anonymous' Twelve Steps, apologizes to everyone he has ever wronged—except George.

Since Seinfeld: Spader has been a mainstay in indie films and has won three Emmys for his TV work. His most recent gig has him starring as Raymond "Red" Reddington in NBC's The Blacklist.

23. Anna Gunn - Amy in “The Glasses” (September 30, 1993)

Columbia Pictures Television 

On Seinfeld: George’s poor squinting ability leads to him mistakenly identifying Gunn's Amy as a cheating girlfriend of Jerry's.

Since Seinfeld: Anna Gunn made her name as an Emmy award-winning star of AMC’s Breaking Bad.

24. Bob Odenkirk - Ben in “The Abstinence” (November 21, 1996)

On Seinfeld: Elaine's almost-doctor boyfriend, Ben, who went to medical school but had not yet passed the licensing exam.

Since Seinfeld: Odenkirk would eventually join Gunn on Breaking Bad, and is currently filming the spinoff Better Call Saul. Before Seinfeld, he was a writer for SNL, and he was starring in Mr. Show when this episode first aired.

25. Bryan Cranston - Tim Whatley in “The Mom and Pop Store” (November 17, 1994)

Columbia Pictures Television

On Seinfeld: Cranston famously had a recurring role as Jerry’s dentist, the original re-gifter who converted to Judaism for the jokes. It seems that even then he was destined for great things. Seinfeld has said that he knew the actor would become a star the second he walked on set.

Since Seinfeld: He’s had a successful and varied career in both film and TV, but Cranston will always be remembered for his Emmy-winning turn as Walter White in Breaking Bad.

Original image
Giovanni Rufino - © 2012 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved
arrow
entertainment
XOXO: 20 Things You Might Not Know About Gossip Girl
Original image
Giovanni Rufino - © 2012 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Ten years ago, Gossip Girl became appointment television for America’s teenagers—and a guilty pleasure for millions more (whether they wanted to admit it or not). Like a new millennium version of Beverly Hills, 90210, the series—which was adapted from Cecily von Ziegesar’s book series of the same name—saw The O.C.’s Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage trade in their west coast cool for New York City style as the show followed the lives of a group of friends (and sometimes enemies) navigating the elite world of prep schools and being fabulous on Manhattan's Upper East Side. In honor of the series’ tenth anniversary, here are 20 things you might not have known about Gossip Girl.

1. IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A LINDSAY LOHAN MOVIE.

Originally, the plan for adapting Gossip Girl wasn’t for a series at all. It was supposed to be a feature film, with Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman-Palladino writing the script and Lindsay Lohan set to star as Blair Waldorf. When those plans fell through, the producers approached Josh Schwartz—who was just wrapping up work on The O.C.—about taking his talent for creating enviable high school worlds to New York City’s Upper East Side.

"The books are a soap opera, and TV makes a lot of sense," executive producer Leslie Morgenstein told Backstage of the decision to go the small-screen route. "When we made the list of writers who would be the best to adapt Gossip Girl for television, Josh was at the top of the list."

2. PENN BADGLEY INITIALLY TURNED DOWN THE ROLE OF DAN HUMPHREY.

Barbara Nitke - © 2012 THE CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Though he was hardly a household name when Gossip Girl premiered, Penn Badgley had been acting for nearly a decade—and had a lot of experience working on first season TV shows that never took off—when he was offered the role of Brooklyn outsider Dan Humphrey, and his initial response was: thanks, but no thanks.

“The reason I turned it down initially was because I was just frustrated,” Badgley told Vulture in 2012. “I was frustrated and I was broke and I was depressed and I was like, ‘I cannot do that again. I can't.’ … Stephanie Savage, the creator [of Gossip Girl], she said to me, ‘I know you might not want to do this again, but just take a look at it.’ And I actually was like, ‘I appreciate so much that you thought of me. I just don't want to do this. Thank you for understanding that I wouldn't want to do this.’ And then they couldn't find anybody for it—which is weird, because a million people could play Dan Humphrey—and she came back around, I was about to get a job as a waiter, and I was like, ‘Okay.’”

3. ULTIMATELY, BADGLEY PROBABLY WISHES HE HAD FOLLOWED HIS INITIAL INSTINCT.

Badgley told Vulture that, “I wouldn't be here without Gossip Girl, so I will always be in debt and grateful. And I've said some sh*t that ... I don't regret it, but I'm just maybe too honest about it sometimes.”

But executive producer Joshua Safran had a different view on the situation. “Penn didn’t like being on Gossip Girl, but …. he was Dan,” Safran told Vanity Fair. “He may not have liked it, but [his character] was the closest to who he was.”

4. THE CREATORS GOT THE IDEA TO CAST BLAKE LIVELY FROM THE INTERNET.

According to Vanity Fair, when it came time to casting the show’s main roles, they cruised some of the online message boards related to the Gossip Girl book series to see which actors fans of the books were suggesting. One name they kept seeing for the role of Serena van der Woodsen: Blake Lively, who had starred in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. “We didn’t see a lot of other girls for Serena,” Schwartz said. “She has to be somebody that you believe would be sitting in the front row at Fashion Week eventually.”

5. LIKE BADGLEY, LIVELY WAS ON THE VERGE OF QUITTING ACTING.

© 2008 Warner Bros. Television

Like her onscreen (and eventually off-screen) love interest Penn Badgley, Blake Lively was also considering leaving Hollywood when Gossip Girl came calling, so she turned the producers down.

“I said, ‘No, I want to go to college. Thank you, though,’” Lively told Vanity Fair. “Then they said, ‘OK, you can go to Columbia [University] one day a week. After the first year [of the show], it’ll quiet down. Your life will go back to normal and you can start going to school. We can’t put it in writing, but we promise you can go.’ So that’s why I said, ‘OK. You know what? I’ll do this.’”

As for that going back to school and life going back to normal? “When they say, ‘We promise, but we can’t put it in writing,’ there’s a reason they can’t put it in writing,” she said.

6. LEIGHTON MEESTER DYED HER HAIR TO GET THE PART OF BLAIR.

Because Blair Waldorf and Serena van der Woodsen were both best friends and occasional enemies, it was important to the show’s creators that the characters did not look like the same person. That fact almost cost Leighton Meester the role of Blair.

“She came in and she was really funny, and really smart and played vulnerable,” Schwartz recalled of Meester’s audition. “But there was one problem: she was blonde. And Blake was blonde, obviously; Serena had to be blonde. So, [Leighton] went to the sink and dyed her hair. She wanted it.’” (Sounds like something Blair would do.)

7. THE NETWORK WORRIED THAT ED WESTWICK LOOKED LIKE A “SERIAL KILLER.”

Giovanni Rufino - © 2012 THE CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Ed Westwick, who originally auditioned for the role of Nate Archibald but ended up playing bad boy Chuck Bass, almost didn’t land a role on the show at all. Though the show’s co-creators, Schwartz and Savage, loved the darker edge that Westwick brought to the group of friends, The CW worried “that he looked more like a serial killer than a romantic lead.”

“He's menacing and scary, but there's a twinkle in his eye,” casting director David Rapaport told BuzzFeed. “You want to hate him, but you would also probably sleep with him. He's one of those guys you hate for always getting away with things, but you also want to hang out with him and see what he's up to next. He's the guy that's going to give you a joint for the first time or get you drunk for the first time, so you know he's wrong for you, but he's fun.” Fans clearly agreed.

8. WESTWICK CHANNELED HIS INNER CARLTON BANKS TO PLAY CHUCK BASS.

In order to perfect his posh American accent, Westwick—who was born in London—looked to another iconic American television character for help: The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’s Carlton Banks (Alfonso Ribeiro). “There’s a slight thing in Carlton Banks,” Westwick told Details Magazine in 2008, “that kind of über-preppy, that I did pick up on.”

9. GRETA GERWIG AUDITIONED FOR THE SHOW … IN OVERALLS.

In 2015, Golden Globe-nominated actress Greta Gerwig—who just wrote and directed Lady Bird, starring Saoirse Ronan—talked to HuffPost Live about the mistakes she made early on in her career as an actress. “I have had moments when I was starting out when I was auditioning for things like Gossip Girl," she said. “And they would look at me like, 'Why are you wearing overalls to this audition?' And I'd be like, 'They said she was from a farm!' and they would be like, 'Well, this is Gossip Girl.’” (The role she was auditioning for, Eva Coupeau—a love interest for Chuck—eventually went to Clémence Poésy, who played Fleur Delacour in the Harry Potter movies.

10. BLAIR WALDORF HAD TWO MOMS.

© 2008 Warner Bros. Television

In Gossip Girl’s pilot episode, Blair’s mom—popular women’s clothing designer Eleanor Waldorf—was played by Florencia Lozano. In episode two, and throughout the rest of the series, Eleanor was portrayed by Margaret Colin.

11. IT WAS ONE OF TELEVISION’S FIRST STREAMING SUCCESS STORIES.

Years before House of Cards changed the way we watch, and even define, “television,” Gossip Girl served as a sort of precursor to the streaming generation. While the show’s Nielsen ratings were mediocre, New York Magazine reported that, “New episodes routinely arrived at the No. 1 most-downloaded spot on iTunes, and then there were the hundreds of thousands who were downloading free week-old episodes on the CW's site. Even executives at Nielsen threw up their hands and admitted that Gossip Girl appeared to be speaking to an audience so young and tech-savvy they hadn't really figured it out just yet.” (Lost and The Office had followed similar tracks.)

12. THE SHOW WAS BANNED BY SOME NEW YORK CITY SCHOOLS.

Giovanni Rufino - © 2012 THE CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

According to Vanity Fair, some of the elite New York City private schools that might have shared some similarities with the show’s fictional Constance Billard and St. Jude's banned their students from watching it. (Which, the outlet noted, “only served, in all likelihood, to make the students want to watch it more.”)

13. THE SERIES TURNED ITS CRITICISMS INTO A MARKETING CAMPAIGN.

Even by 2007’s standards, Gossip Girl—for a show about high schoolers on what was mainly known as a teen-friendly television network—seemed to relish in pushing the boundaries of what might be acceptable. It didn’t take long for parental advocacy groups like the Parent Television Council to take very public, and vocal, issue with the show's in-your-face sexuality. When it was criticized as being “mind-blowingly inappropriate” and “every parent’s nightmare,” the show turned those critiques into a marketing campaign to help promote viewership.

14. A WRITERS STRIKE HELPED THE SERIES GROW ITS VIEWERSHIP.

While the show struck a chord with certain audiences immediately upon its release, the 2007-2008 Writers Guild of America Strike proved to be a boon to the series. “The CW, because they couldn’t just run repeats or game shows, [Gossip Girl is] all they had,” Schwartz told Vanity Fair. “They kept re-running the show during the strike so more and more people were watching.” Which led to even higher ratings when the show returned for a second season.

15. DESIGNERS WERE BEGGING TO SEE THEIR FASHIONS WORN ON THE SHOW.

Giovanni Rufino - © 2012 THE CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Just like New York City itself, the fashions in Gossip Girl essentially served as another character. According to a 2008 article in The New York Times, “Merchants, designers, and trend consultants say that Gossip Girl … is one of the biggest influences on how young women spend."

“When we came back with Season 2, so many designers were lining up and wanting to be a part of it,” the show’s costume designer Eric Daman told Vanity Fair. “They wanted their stuff on either Blake or Leighton.”

16. IT SPAWNED ITS OWN CLOTHING LINE.

To capitalize on the show’s influence in the fashion world, Daman and designer Christine Cybelle (a.k.a. Charlotte Russe) created a Gossip Girl-inspired clothing line.

17. KRISTEN BELL PLAYED AN ESSENTIAL PART OF THE SERIES, BUT WAS NEVER CREDITED.

Though viewers had to watch all 121 episodes of Gossip Girl to learn the identity of the titular tattler, Kristen Bell provided the voice for “Gossip Girl” for all six seasons, without credit. And while she sort of hoped that the finale would have revealed that she was indeed “Gossip Girl” all along, that ending was not meant to be. “I’m sure that it would’ve been really cool had I got to play some vicious part and actually come out as Gossip Girl, but I think it was appropriate for one of the main cast members to have surfaced as Gossip Girl,” she told Perez Hilton.

Though she was a key part of the series, she didn’t learn GG’s true identity until the very end of the show—and she was surprised. “I don’t know that I ever forethought it being Dan,” she admitted. “That was a bit of a shocker!" (If it makes her feel any better, Badgley reportedly didn’t learn Gossip Girl’s identity until that scene was actually shot.)

18. JANUARY 26 IS "GOSSIP GIRL DAY" IN NEW YORK CITY.

© 2008 Warner Bros. Television

At least it was in 2012, when then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg proclaimed January 26 “Gossip Girl Day” in celebration of the show’s 100th episode. “I don’t have a whole lot of time to follow what New York magazine has called ‘The Greatest Teen Drama of our time,’” Bloomberg said. “But I am interested in finding out who the real Gossip Girl is—Serena’s cousin, maybe? And I don’t see how Blair could marry Prince Lewis while she is clearly in love with Chuck, although she and Dan became pretty close when they interned at that fashion magazine. And I just wish that Nate and Vanessa had been able to work things out, I guess Nate was preoccupied with everything that was going on with his father and Jenny and, I mean, it was a tangled web, I guess Dan would have ended up making their relationship impossible anyway, but I’m just a casual fan.” 

Super-fans of the show can still take a Gossip Girl tour of New York City.

19. IVANKA TRUMP AND JARED KUSHNER MADE A CAMEO.

Over the full course of the series, plenty of familiar faces popped up, but two in particular seem kind of funny in retrospect: Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner played themselves in a club scene. (Ivanka was apparently a huge fan of the series.) “They did it for the money,” a chuckling Schwartz told Vanity Fair.

20. IN AN ALTERNATIVE UNIVERSE, SERENA IS A SERIAL KILLER.

In 2002, von Ziegesar published a bloody take on her famed book series with Gossip Girl: Psycho Killer, which she said she’d love to see adapted. "I took the original text of the first book and whenever I saw an opportunity, I layered in this story of Serena coming back from boarding school as this coldblooded psychopath, which, to me makes total sense,” von Ziegesar told Entertainment Weekly. “She’s sort of like the Ryan Gosling of Gossip Girl world. She has that deadpan style, doesn’t seem to have much personality, and she’s really gorgeous, but then underneath she has this kind of scary ability to kill people. So she’s murdered people up at boarding school. She’s always had this dark side and everyone is a little bit scared of her.”

Original image
Fox Home Video
arrow
entertainment
17 Painless Facts About M*A*S*H
Original image
Fox Home Video

In 1968, surgeon H. Richard Hornberger—using the nom de plume of Richard Hooker—collaborated with writer W.C. Heinz to create the book MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors, based on his experiences with the 8055th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital during the Korean War. Two years later, Robert Altman used the book as the basis for a movie about the fictional 4077th unit (he cut the number 8055 in half.) Two years after that—on this day 45 years ago—M*A*S*H came to life again in the form of an 11-season television series that culminated in the most-watched series finale in television history. Here are some facts about the show that won't get you a Section 8.

1. ALAN ALDA AND JAMIE FARR SERVED IN THE U.S. ARMY.

Alda (Hawkeye Pierce) was in the Army Reserve for six months in Korea. Farr enlisted, and was stationed in Japan when Red Skelton requested his services on his USO Tour through Korea. Wayne Rogers (Trapper John McIntyre) joined the U.S. Navy for a time as a ship navigator. Mike Farrell (B.J. Hunnicut) served in the U.S. Marine Corps.

2. MCLEAN STEVENSON AUDITIONED FOR HAWKEYE, AND COMEDIAN ROBERT KLEIN TURNED DOWN THE ROLE OF TRAPPER JOHN.

Stevenson was convinced to take the role of Lt. Colonel Henry Blake instead. As for Klein, he denied a claim that he lived to regret the decision.

3. LARRY GELBART WROTE THE PILOT IN TWO DAYS FOR $25,000.

The veteran screenwriter had been living in London after growing tired of Hollywood, but he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try to adapt Robert Altman’s movie for television audiences.

4. KLINGER WAS ONLY SUPPOSED TO BE IN ONE EPISODE.

The cast of MASH
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment

He was also supposed to be gay. Jamie Farr’s character was changed to a heterosexual who cross-dressed to try to get himself kicked out of Korea. Allegedly, the Klinger character was influenced by comedian Lenny Bruce’s claim that he got discharged from the Navy for claiming to have “homosexual tendencies.”

5. ONLY THE NETWORK WANTED THE LAUGH TRACK.

Gelbart and executive producer Gene Reynolds were against the canned laughter; unfortunately CBS knew of no other way to present a 30-minute “comedy.” Gelbart and Reynolds did manage to get the network to agree to take out the laughing during the scenes in the operating room, and as the seasons progressed, the track got quieter and quieter. In the U.K., the BBC omitted the laugh track entirely.

6. CBS DIDN’T WANT ONE "UNPATRIOTIC" EPISODE.

An episode where soldiers stand outside in the freezing cold so that they can make themselves sick enough to be sent home was rejected by CBS. That soldier tactic was apparently actually used during the Korean War.

7. THE WRITERS CAME UP WITH AN INGENIOUS WAY OF DEALING WITH SCRIPT COMPLAINTS.

After growing tired of having to listen to cast members’ notes about their scripts, M*A*S*H writer Ken Levine and his fellow scribes changed their script on two occasions so that the actors were forced to pretend it was parka weather on 90- to 100-degree days on their Malibu ranch set. They took the hint and the “ticky tack” notes stopped.

8. WAYNE ROGERS WAS ABLE TO LEAVE THE SHOW BECAUSE HE NEVER SIGNED A CONTRACT.

Rogers was threatened with a breach of contract lawsuit. The problem was that he had never signed a deal, objecting to the standard contract given to TV actors when he had started playing Trapper John, particularly the “morals clause,” which he considered antiquated. Rogers said that aside from missing the cast—and his friendship with Alda in particular—he had no regrets about leaving the show after season three.

9. ALDA WAS THE ONLY ACTOR WHO WAS AWARE OF HENRY BLAKE’S FATE UNTIL MOMENTS BEFORE SHOOTING THE FINAL SCENE IN “ABYSSINIA, HENRY.”

Alan Alda in MASH
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment

Gelbart and Reynolds used the opportunity for McLean Stevenson wanting to leave after the third season to “make a point” about the “wastefulness” of war, and decided to kill off Henry Blake. After distributing the script without the last page and shooting all of the scenes written therein, Gelbart asked the cast to wait a few minutes before the start of the end-of-season wrap party and gave them each one copy of the final page, where Radar enters the O.R. and announces that Henry didn’t make it.

Larry Linville (Frank Burns) immediately remarked that it was “f***ing brilliant.” Gary Burghoff (Radar) turned to Stevenson and called him a son of a bitch, because he was going to get an acting Emmy for the episode. (He didn’t.) They then shot the scene in two takes. Gelbart and Reynolds claimed they received over 1000 letters from people upset over the ending. Reynolds also claimed that CBS was so unhappy with the decision that in at least one repeat airing, they cut out the final scene.

10. THE WRITERS RAN OUT OF NAMES.

During season six, there's an episode that features four Marine patients named after the 1977 California Angels infield. Throughout season seven, the patients were named after the 1978 Los Angeles Dodgers. Ken Levine didn’t just use baseball players' names though; in “Goodbye Radar,” Radar’s new girlfriend was named after one of Levine’s former lady friends, Patty Haven.

11. THE SERIES LASTED MUCH LONGER THAN THE ACTUAL KOREAN WAR.

The series spent 11 years telling the story of Army doctors and nurses dealing with a three year, one month, and two day war.

12. ALDA CO-WROTE 13 AND DIRECTED 31 EPISODES OF THE SERIES.

That 31 count includes the series finale. Alda was the first person to ever win an Emmy for acting, directing, and writing on the same program.

13. A METRIC TON OF FUTURE STARS MADE GUEST APPEARANCES.

Ron Howard played an underage Marine. Leslie Nielsen played a Colonel. Patrick Swayze portrayed an injured soldier with leukemia. John Ritter, Laurence Fishburne, Pat Morita, Rita Wilson, George Wendt, Shelley Long, Ed Begley Jr., Blythe Danner, Teri Garr, and even Andrew Dice Clay also all visited the 4077th.

14. THE SERIES FINALE IS STILL THE MOST WATCHED EPISODE OF TELEVISION IN AMERICAN HISTORY.

Seventy-seven percent of the people watching television in the United States on the night of Monday, February 28, 1983 were watching the two-and-a-half-hour series finale, “Goodbye, Farewell and Amen.” That was 121.6 million people. A company only had to pay $30,000 to run a 30-second commercial when M*A*S*H got started in 1972. For the series finale, a 30-second spot cost $450,000.

15. THERE WERE THREE SPINOFFS.

Trapper John, M.D., aired from 1979 to 1986 and was about Trapper John McIntyre’s present-day tenure as chief of surgery back in San Francisco (it didn’t star Wayne Rogers). AfterMASH featured Col. Potter (Harry Morgan), Father Mulcahy (William Christopher), and Klinger (Jamie Farr) working at a veterans' hospital in Missouri right after the events of M*A*S*H; it was cancelled in its second season as it was unable to compete with The A-Team. W*A*L*T*E*R followed the new adventures of Walter “Radar” O'Reilly (Burghoff again), who became a St. Louis cop after losing the family farm and his wife (not Patty Haven) and attempting suicide. The pilot wasn’t picked up, and only aired once, and only in the eastern and central time zones, on CBS on July 17, 1984.

16. RADAR’S TEDDY BEAR WAS SOLD AND RETURNED TO BURGHOFF.

Gary Burghoff as Radar in MASH
Fox Home Video

Burghoff said Radar’s teddy bear had been lost for 30 years until it suddenly turned up at an auction in 2005. A medical student bought it for $11,500, and promptly sold it back to Burghoff.

17. A CONSTRUCTION WORKER FOUND THE SHOW’S TIME CAPSULE ALMOST IMMEDIATELY.

In the series' penultimate episode, “As Time Goes By,” the characters bury a time capsule under the Fox Ranch. Two months later, the land was sold. Soon after, a construction worker found the capsule and got in contact with Alan Alda to ask what he should do with it. After he was told to keep it, Alda claimed the construction worker “didn’t seem very impressed.”

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios