America loves a scandal, but we also love it when our stars are “just like us.” Unfortunately, though, the former provides more attention-grabbing headlines. “Actor X was actually nice” doesn’t sell newspapers. That’s why it’s so important to take note of kindness when it’s there. We have to because there are very few outlets that will report it to us.
While a majority of the press surrounding M*A*S*H typically examined cast shakeups and the show’s critical acclaim, a 1983 article from The Boston Globe really broke the mold. The reporter provides some insight into what it was like behind the scenes, according to the actors.
At least at the time, Loretta Swit considered Harry Morgan her best friend. David Ogden Stiers reportedly considered Morgan a father figure. Alan Alda, too, praised Harry Morgan, speaking on the actor’s “granite dependability.” It seems that just like his character Col. Potter marshaled the 4077th, Morgan had a real “locker room leader” role onset. He was modest, too, shrugging off the compliment with embarrassment. “I don’t know about that,” Morgan told the Globe with a smile.
“People wonder, and I wonder myself, why is M*A*S*H such a success? One thing that occurred to me is that in this business there is, and always has been so much rudeness,” said Morgan. “I mean you can turn around and somebody will be rude to you. On M*A*S*H, the instances of intentional rudeness on the part of anybody are non-existent.”
The article notes how gentlemanly Morgan presented himself, while also reporting the actor’s realness. Words like “affectionate,” “playful,” and “courteous” abound, providing a fuller picture of the man behind the fatigues. So, in the twilight days of the show’s run, what did he think of his castmates? “Even though there’s plenty of horseplay, the whole tone here has been gentle,” said Morgan. “I’ve never been with a finer bunch of people than this gang… Some I deeply love.”
In 1983, at the time of the interview, M*A*S*H was winding down, filming its final season. So, what was Morgan’s takeaway? Did he expect all his further projects to carry with them that same affable air? “Any kind of working relationship I get into after this show,” said Morgan, “will not be M*A*S*H in any way, shape, or form. But the point is, I’m going to run into a lot of rudeness again!”