Klinger's dresses on M*A*S*H almost became a new trend
Cpl. Klinger became a 4077th trendsetter and with the way he could pull off a dress, we could see why.
Cpl. Maxwell Q. Klinger was known as the fashionable soldier who wasn't afraid of wearing a dress on M*A*S*H. Klinger, played by Jamie Farr, was also known for his humor, versatility and endearing personality on the series.
But what viewers may remember most about Cpl. Klinger was his range of outfits that were hidden somewhere in the 4077th. Some of his most iconic fits included: a fortune teller costume, a cowgirl fit, a Hula dancer and his famous Statue of Liberty outfit.
To see a man, let alone a soldier, in a dress on television in the 1970s was rare. Klinger challenged traditional gender norms and expanded the definition of masculinity.
According to a 1976 interview with The Mercury, Farr's character had started to become somewhat of a trendsetter as well as an inspiration to many adoring women who would watch M*A*S*H each week.
"I've been thinking we ought to put out a Cpl. Klinger or Jamie Farr line of dresses or jewerly," Farr said. "I'm serious about that because I've gotten several letters from girls saying, 'Gee, I really liked the blouse you wore this week and would like to get one like it.'"
Farr said he thought they could put out a wonderful collection and he would be delighted to endorse a women's line. While it may not have been Bob Mackie, it would have still been Cpl. Klinger, and that would have been enough to sell any M*A*S*H fan on the idea.
By the time the third season of M*A*S*H had finished, Farr said he had heard all the jokes about wearing women's clothing already. As you you could tell by his willingness to sponsor a Klinger line, the comments had no affect on Farr.
He said the jokes were all in good fun. He also said that the wardrobe department had the most fun finding his outfits, but it was difficult to find dresses in his size. Carol Burnett, Lucille Ball and Marilyn Monroe were in a different size category.
According to another 1976 interview with The Morning Call, Farr said that Klinger didn't come without some criticism. Many critics would bash the way he was dressed on the series, while others just had a hard time understanding the point of his character.
Luckily, Farr's fans rose to the occasion; both women and men.
"You know, here's a guy fighting the establishment," Farr said. "They appreciate his courage. He's saying 'I don't like being here. I don't like killing people, and this whole Korean thing is dumb. I'm trying to get out the best way I know how.'"
According to the interview, the character was created by producer Larry Gelbart a few years prior to 1972. Klinger was originally supposed to be a one-shot character with no more than a few lines. Thankfully, we got to see much more of Klinger — in more ways than one.
"People do root for me, for the Cpl. Klinger character," Farr said. "I may be on a trip and people will spot me and give me a big 'hooray' and a big OK sign. On the freeway people will pull up alongside and give me a thumbs up or a V sign."