Radar O’Reilly, played by Gary Burghoff on M*A*S*H, became one of the most beloved characters on television. Throughout M*A*S*H‘s 11 season run, fans watched as Radar grew from a naive 18-year-old who was drafted with his teddy bear, to a man who held the 4077th together.
Burghoff loved many things: dancing, singing, acting and playing drums… but there was one thing he didn’t like.
“Aw, I know I’m cute,” he said. “Cute, cute, CUTE! I was always cute, because I was always the smallest kid on the block. I hate cute.”
In a 1976 interview with The Herald News, Burghoff talked about his not-so-tough-guy image in both Hollywood and his personal life.
“I don’t know why everybody thinks I’m so small,” he said. “I’m not. I think I must be about 5’6 now, and that’s bigger than Arte Johnson or Mickey Rooney.”
In the interview, Burghoff talked about his first appearance on The Dean Martin Show in 1973. This particular show was the Celebrity Roast of Jack Klugman and Tony Randall.
“I was really shocked when Dean Martin introduced me. He said, ‘You know that dog food commercial where the tiny stage coach runs through the TV set? Well, Gary Burghoff is so small he drives that stage coach,'” the actor said. “I was really hurt. I thought it was a cheap shot. Do you think 5 feet 6 is THAT short?”
Burghoff also opened up about his birth defect, a version of Poland Syndrome but specifically Brachydactyly. His left hand had three fingers that were significantly smaller than those on his right hand.
“Of course this defect affected me while I was growing up,” he said. “I suppose when I was very young, I knew my disability would set me apart and make me special.”
The good-natured and cute… we mean, good-natured and charming Gary Burghoff is special to us indeed.