Why Gary Burghoff Left M*A*S*H And Never Returned

Burghoff himself acknowledged the “strain” the show put on his home life in Kalter’s book, writing, “After the first three years, I was in fewer shows because of the strain on my family life.” He recalls the hesitant response he received from the network when he said he wouldn’t be coming back, but explained, “Year seven, all I could really think about was being able to take a year off to be with my daughter.”

Though Burghoff explained all of this in print just a year after “M*A*S*H” ended, rumors still persist that his exit had something to do with him being in some way difficult on set. “Gary Burghoff always made me feel sorry for him, because he felt, not neglected, but he felt he wasn’t getting his proper dues,” Dubin shared in the above interview, noting that he was a “sweet” man. In the same interview, executive producer Burt Metcalfe noted that Burghoff had insomnia and other sleep-related issues that made it tough for him to make his call times. Metcalfe was also complimentary of Burghoff, saying, “I’m only mentioning that other aspect of it because he wasn’t as happy in the show as other people were, and he was really anxious to move on.”

A 1983 biography of Alan Alda by Raymond Strait presented Burghoff’s time on set in more colorful detail, describing a yelling match between Burghoff and Henry Blake actor McLean Stevenson, plus an unpleasant encounter with Trapper John actor Wayne Rogers. “Burghoff doesn’t particularly like to take direction,” Strait wrote. “He knows his role and plays it the way he sees it. This so irritated Wayne Rogers that he threw a chair at Burghoff during a scene.” According to Strait, Alda smoothed things over in future script discussions by joking that crew members should “Bring Mr. Rogers’ chair, please.”

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