The best role Gary Burghoff ever had was himself
If you liked Radar, you're going to love Gary.
As an actor, becoming known for playing a character can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, audiences adore your portrayal, which means you must be doing something right. On the other hand, the character can follow you around long after you've left the role, whether you want it to or not.
This is not to say that Gary Burghoff didn't enjoy being Radar O'Reilly. During an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, he called the character "one of my favorite children" and added, "He's what I wish I could be." Burghoff didn't mind being Radar; He just wanted to make sure that people knew that he was Gary Burghoff, too.
In an interview with The Courier-Journal, Burghoff said, "We all have our identities outside of work. If the only identity we have is what we do, then we're in big trouble — especially if we lose a job. Then we don't have an identity anymore." Of being referred to as "Radar," Burghoff said to the Chicago Tribune, "I hate it. One of the reasons I enjoy appearing on game shows is the hosts describe me as 'that wonderful actor, Gary Burghoff,' instead of saying, 'Hey look, here's Radar.'"
Still, it seems that those who knew Burghoff as Radar are more of an anomaly than you might assume. In an interview with The Miami News, Burghoff spoke of a road trip he and his wife Janet took with their child and described the people he met during the trip. He said, "They recognized me as Gary Burghoff." and continued, "I don't think there's too many people around who believe you are the character you play." Still, Burghoff admitted that the character did color his interactions with them. He went on, "I guess they do feel they can trust me because they know Radar isn't going to hurt them. Some actors people are afraid of. I'm not one and I'm glad."
You've probably heard of actors attempting to go method and "become" their characters, but for Burghoff, being himself was quite all right with him.