No other sitcom can make you cry like M*A*S*H. Tears of joy, tears of pain. That’s why it’s hard to simply label the show a “sitcom.” The series finale, “Goodbye, Farewell and Amen,” will have you burning through a box of Kleenex.
Long before you get to No. 256, M*A*S*H is most likely to have your eyes waterings in the “Dear…” episodes. These epistolary stories typically aired around the holidays — “Dear Dad,” “Dear Ma,” “Dear Peggy,” “Dear Uncle Abdul,” etc. — and features characters narrating letters they wrote to loved ones back home.
Potter (Harry Morgan) took his turn in “Dear Mildred,” as the colonel pens a letter to his wife on their anniversary. The Potter-Mildred relationship was the heart of that fourth-season tale, but another real-world couple secretly stole the show.
Potter tells Mildred about Father Mulcahy, played by William Christopher. “You’d like him — very dedicated, fine young priest,” he writes. “Every once in a while, he’ll surprise the puttees off ya.”
He then proceeds to explain how the 4077 was in the middle of watching a movie (“Custer’s Last Stand”) when the projector broke. To placate the crowd, Father Mulcahy stood up and presented a musical number he had prepared with a nurse, Lt. O’Connor.
Until now, we have never seen Nurse O’Connor. And we would never see her again — not just on M*A*S*H, but television in general.
That is because this performer was none other than William Christopher’s wife, Barbara Christopher. Her maiden name? O’Connor, of course!
The real-life couple sings a lovely rendition of the classic song “When You’re All Dressed Up and No Place to Go.” In particular, it melts Potter’s heart.
The true love story of William and Barbara Christopher is just as delightful.
William Christopher grew up in the suburbs north of Chicago. After graduating from the prestigious New Trier High School, Christopher traveled east to attend Wesleyan University, where he studied drama and Greek literature. He also sang in the glee club.
While in school, Christopher went on a blind date with Barbara O’Connor. As you already know, the two hit it off.
The two married in 1957 when Christopher was about 25 years old.
Fast forward to two decades later, and the love story continued in millions of American living rooms.
Watch William and Barbara sing together in the clip above.