Both now and in the past, it has never been uncommon for crossovers, spin-offs, backdoor pilots, and anything in between to grace our TV screens. A good guest star character from one TV show could end up being an enigmatic main star in an entirely different show. One classic example of this is from the popular war, medical series “MAS*H” from the ’70s.
During the season four episode called “Smilin’ Jack,” we are introduced to a charismatic and charming helicopter pilot. In the episode, we learn a lot about this pilot. He immediately grows on both Hawkeye and Col. Potter’s good sides, asks out a local nurse, and is also nominated for the very prestigious Pilot of the Year award.
He has an amazing track record that includes bringing in a lot of wounded people. In fact, we learn he is only three people away from breaking a pilot known as “Dangerous Dan” and his record.
‘M*A*S*H’ Character Connection to Another Show
As it turns out, there’s something he’s hiding from everyone — a diabetes diagnosis that would immediately ground him. He was insistent on continuing his work and going toward his record. Smilin’ Jack was played by Robert Hogan. Similar to his “M*A*S*H” character, Hogan also strived to one day be in the main spotlight. For a good portion of his career he had appeared as a guest in shows like “Alice,” “Murder, She Wrote,” “General Hospital,” “The Twilight Zone,” “Days of Our Lives,” and more.
While a lead role wasn’t exactly in his future, Hogan was just as loveable and charismatic as Smilin’ Jack. Interstingly enough, before his days on ‘M*A*S*H,’ Hogan’s name was used in a previous TV classic: “Hogan’s Heroes.”
According to MeTV, there were talks of Robert Hogan landing the starring role. Unfortunately for him, the network went another direction. The lead role ended up going to Bob Crane instead.
“Hogan’s Heroes” is another war-themed show that is set at a prisoner-of-war camp in Nazi Germany during WWII. It ran from 1965 to 1971 and was actually the longest-running American series that focused on WWII.
Crane was the star of the series and played Colonel Robert E. Hogan. He coordinated a group of Allied prisoners that were running a special operations group from inside of the camp. Other stars included Werner Klemperer, John Banner, and Robert Clary.
Robert Hogan’s Career
Although Robert Hogan never got the starring role, it didn’t seem to bother him too much. He appeared as a guest on the series in two different episodes — “Reservations are Required” and “Crittendon’s Commandos.”
Robert Hogan had a prolific career in Hollywood, as seen in his many different roles including “M*A*S*H.”
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the New York actor recently passed away in June of 2021. He died from complications from pneumonia at his house in Maine at the age of 87.
He had appeared in over 100 TV series during his career and had gotten plenty of shoutouts from Hollywood. His most popular roles were in “Batman,” “Peyton Place,” as well as a role in 2000’s shows like “Law & Order” and “The Wire.” He even got a shoutout in Quentin Tarantino’s popular “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” film from 2019.