When M*A*S*H ended after a record-breaking finale episode — “Goodbye, Farewell and Amen” — Alan Alda only took home two things from the set: his boots and his dog tags.
“I put these boots on every day that we shot MASH, for eleven years,” Alda wrote. “And the dog tags, too. And every time my foot found its way into one of the boots, or the necklace of tags went over my head, I remembered: Someone had worn these once in a real war.”
Both of the items had been worn by veterans in a real war, which Alda said helped him step into the shoes of his character — literally. The men who had worn the boots and tags were always on his mind when he put on his wardrobe each day.
“As the years passed — more than fifty since I’d first put them on — I realized they could have a life again,” Alda wrote.
The actor decided to put them up for auction to raise money for charity. The proceeds would go to the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University in New York, an organization that aims to teach scientists how to communicate more effectively with the public.
The boots and tags, purchased by an anonymous buyer, finally went for $125,000.