How Gary Burghoff beat burnout in pastoral PA

Gary Burghoff starred off-broadway at the New Hope Playhouse.

Each episode of M*A*S*H was filmed over a three-day period following a full day of rehearsals. That’s a four-day commitment for a half hour of television. That means Gary Burghoff spent 720 days of his life as Radar. That’s just the show, too. Burghoff also played Radar O’Reilly in the Robert Altman movie. Technically, he was also Radar in two AfterMASH episodes and the TV pilot W*A*L*T*E*R. That’s a lot of time pretending to be someone else. By the time it was all over, Burghoff was due a little R&R.

After seven years on M*A*S*H, Gary Burghoff strapped a canoe to his Jeep and headed to Bucks County, Pennsylvania, a historical suburb of Philadelphia. There, Burghoff found not just respite but also work, as he appeared onstage at the Bucks County Playhouse, which is still in operation to this day in New Hope. The six-time Emmy nominee starred in the two-act comedy “Bony Kern” in the theater that purports itself as “America’s Most Famous Playhouse.”


“One of the joys of theater is that there are always surprises,” Burghoff told the Courier-Post in 1993. “The audience is always different. You play to the audience. But the audience plays to you, too.”

One of the joys of New Hope, according to Burghoff, was getting to treat the trip like a three-week vacation. Straddling the Delaware River, New Hope is a few minutes walk to Lambertville, New Jersey, full of antique shops and eclectic galleries. Burghoff enjoyed the sights with his daughter Gina, his then-fiancee Elizabeth, and their schnauzer-doodle Becky. Burghoff learned, as many visitors do, that New Hope, in addition to being a destination for community theater, is very pet friendly.

The family’s canoe was assuredly put to great use along the banks of the Delaware, where Burghoff commented he planned to “relax and do some fishing.” While the viewing public eagerly anticipated Radar’s return to TV, Burghoff and his family had other plans.

“I built a log cabin in Connecticut, and that’s where I live with my family. I have no complaints. It’s my life right now,” said Burghoff.

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