Gary Burghoff: 10 facts about M*A*S*H’s most interesting actor

He's the man, and here's why!

Sure, Alan Alda had the highest-profile career post-M*A*S*H. And yeah, Trapper John had a spin-off that lasted seven whole seasons. But, for our money, good ol’ Lt. Radar O’Reilly himself, Gary Burghoff, was the most fascinating actor in the cast.

Don’t believe us? Read ahead and see for yourself. Here are 10 fun facts that prove that Gary Burghoff is just as captivating offscreen as he was on M*A*S*H! Each fact was initially printed in the Manitowoc Herald-Times back in 2000 when Burghoff was set to star in Neil Simon’s “Last of the Red Hot Lovers” in the city’s Capitol Civic Center.

1. Acting was a childhood ambition

Some actors fall into the job. But for Gary Burghoff, acting was a lifelong dream. “I spent all those Saturday matinees in the movie theaters. I probably saw every B film and every A film that was ever made.”

2. Gemini

Burghoff’s birthday was May 24, making his zodiac sign that of the Gemini. Geminis are usually associated with playfulness and curiosity, which Burghoff exhibited well into his later life. “I don’t feel old enough to wear readers!”

3. Patents

Gary Burghoff invented several new types of fishing tackle. He had a patent for Chum Magic, which floated on the water to attract fish. According to him, Chum Magic increased catches by 300%!

4. Paintings

Did you know Burghoff could paint? He was awarded the Hallmark Award in 1961 for his painting “Men of Jazz.”

5. More Jazz

He didn’t just paint jazz musicians. Gary Burghoff was a jazz musician as well. In the Sixties, he played in a New York City jazz trio he founded called The We Three. Far out!

6. No Hard Feelings

You may recall that Gary Burghoff left M*A*S*H a few seasons before it ended. However, it certainly wasn’t due to any on-set animosity. “My memories of M*A*S*H are now nothing but the fondest,” he said. “And I still am in touch with my fellow cast members. Alan [Alda] wrote me a letter right after I left the show, and there were no hard feelings.”

7. Environmentalism

Anyone familiar with Burghoff’s personal life will note that he was a staunch environmentalist. He was a supporter of the Federal Duck Stamp Program, and aided in preserving some 5 million acres of land.

8. Birdman of Malibu

Gary Burghoff opened a wildlife sanctuary and animal rehabilitation clinic in his own backyard, earning him the nickname the Birdman of Malibu.

9. Family Travel

Burghoff only traveled in his RV. Even though it took longer to get to engagements than it would have if he had flown, Burghoff did it to spend time with his loved ones. “I try only to travel with my family,” he said.

10. Versatility

While most fans identify Gary Burghoff most with Radar, he was fully committed to every character he played. Of his then-current role Barney Cashman in “Last of the Red Hot Lovers,” Burghoff said “He’s delicious, he’s wonderful. He’s nothing like Radar.”


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