M*A*S*H star Gary Burgoff found purpose, and success, in animal paintings
''If you ignore your passions, you're ignoring your life." It's clear creating animal-inspired art is a passion for this M*A*S*H star.
Radar O'Reilly had many talents to display at the 4077th on M*A*S*H. He could, hence his name, hear the helicopter full of wounded soldiers long before the rest of the camp, he kept things running smoothly as the Company Clerk and even portrayed his musical talents several times throughout the series.
In real life, actor Gary Burgoff had no shortage of talents either. Aside from being an Emmy-winning actor, the former M*A*S*H star had several other irons in the fire. Those musical talents Radar portrayed in the show, especially when he pounded away on the drums, were demonstrations of Burgoff's real skills.
One of his many talents included painting, and his subjects were animals.
According to a 1999 Associated Press newspaper article, Burgoff's paintings were meant to be inspirational, as they depicted animals making a comeback from being on the endangered species list. The names of the paintings corresponded with the animal and the state it's from.
"I am hoping to make the statement we can overcome," Burgoff said of his paintings.
His works, "mostly oils, with a few watercolors" captured a wide-range of animals that were at one point in danger or were reintroduced to their natural environments because of falling numbers.
"'Pride of Alaska' shows an eagle family; 'California Gold,' a watchful mountain lion and her cub; 'Connecticut Harlequin,' a wild turkey with a scarlet wattle," are all examples of Burgoff's work, according to a 2004 article in The New York Times. The actor had one goal in mind.
"I'm hoping to make the viewer see the beauty and soul of the animal," he said in the Times article.
It wasn't a hobby for Burgoff, it was a way to get his aforementioned message out, and his works had some impressive success along the way.
"Most prints," at a Litchfield exhibit in '04, "ranged in price from $225 to $500; originals were priced at $18,000," per the Times, but others "have sold for $25,000," per the AP.
The arts were nothing new to Burgoff at the time of this showing in '04, as he collected even during his M*A*S*H days, but his "transformation into [a] painter occurred in 1993," per the Times. At the time of the article's publishing, the self-taught Burgoff had created about 20 pieces, "some from photographs, others from observing animals firsthand."
Painting for Burgoff went far beyond a hobby. Based on his inspiration for his several works, it was a passion that transformed into a clear message for the successful actor.
"If you ignore your passions, you're ignoring your life," he said.