Cold weather helped unite the M*A*S*H cast on their first day of shooting

A cast that shivers together stays together.

First days can always be tough: Your first day of school, your first day of work, etc. They require a lot of you mentally and emotionally. You spend half the day trying to find your way around and the other half trying to introduce yourself to new people that you’ll be seeing more often than certain family members. It’s helpful to remember that the first day only has to happen once, and then afterward you’re more able to take the days as they come to you, hopefully a bit more gracefully than you took the first.

The cast of M*A*S*H were able to get to know each other for roughly eleven years, but even that unified cast had a first day where they were practically strangers. Alan Alda actually went through the first day he worked on M*A*S*H in his book Never Have Your Dog Stuffed: And Other Things I’ve Learned. No first day is complete without those first-day jitters, and Alda was not immune to this.

He wrote, “First days are almost always difficult. Going onstage for the first time in a play was usually for me a cycle of fear followed by exhilaration at taming the beast, the audience.” Acting on screen was no exception to these emotions, but the M*A*S*H cast had a surprise in store for them on set that helped them get together quickly and easily: Cold Weather.

Alda wrote, “December in the mountains of Malibu can be uncomfortable, especially if you’re pretending it’s summer in Korea and wearing a Hawaiian shirt.” Because of this, fires were stationed where the cast and crew could warm themselves. There, huddled together like penguins, the cast of M*A*S*H finally got properly acquainted with one another.

Alda wrote, “We’d met only a few days before, but the cold let us drop our inhibitions and throw our arms around one another. Without even trying, by the end of the week there was an unusual level of comfort and trust.”

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