Mike Farrell said his shyness almost ruined his chances of becoming a TV star

He was a bit of a shy guy before becoming the charming doctor with the best mustache in the 4077th.

Image credit: The Everett Collection

In real life, Mike Farrell was far different than his character Capt. B.J. Hunnicutt. On M*A*S*H, Capt. B.J. Hunnicutt was one of the many 4077th pranksters; he also had many jokes and sported one of the best mustaches in the area. Farrell, however, said his shyness in real life almost ruined his chances of becoming an actor.

"I was a very frightened guy," Farrell said in a 1977 interview with San Antonio Express. "I was so shy, the idea of getting up on stage and doing something was dreadfully painful. As a matter of fact, getting up before a class in school to talk was the hardest thing for me to do. It was awful."

According to the interview, after years of therapy, Farrell eventually beat his shyness. He ran straight to the stage... the same one he tried very hard to stay away from.

With his already shy nature, joining M*A*S*H during season four and replacing a beloved character (Trapper John) must have been a terrifying experience for Farrell.

Joining an already-existing cast of unique characters could present a few challenges: he needed to win over his co-workers, get approval from America and keep M*A*S*H's high ratings.

Despite his worries, Farrell joined M*A*S*H and fit in seemingly well right away. His character eventually became a grounding point for the series, and he held a solid moral code.

Even with Farrell's stardom during M*A*S*H, he still enjoyed the simple things in life. With all the success that came from the series, Farrell still wasn't buying into the Hollywood lifestyle.

"Sure, we've put in a swimming pool and taken advantage of some of the things that come with a little money," Farrell said. "But no, I don't see the need to drive a Rolls-Royce, nor do I have radio-controlled gates and guard dogs to protect my home. Put simply, I don't let where I'm supposed to be 'at' dictate what I'm supposed to be doing."

In a 1977 interview with the Anderson Independent, Farrell said he was thankful to have become part of the M*A*S*H family. Even though he was second to Alan Alda's character, Capt. Hawkeye Pierce, he was first in many fans' hearts. From a shy kid to stardom, Farrell found his calling in M*A*S*H.

"This has been the best group to work with," Farrell said. "I'm so in love with these people."

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13 Comments

LalaLucy 13 months ago
Understand the shyness quite well. I think it brought out a gentleness to the character, actually, and definitely endeared Hunnicut to me. I know I am in a minority, but really prefer the Hunnicut years because it was nice to see a character with a moral code. But, then, I don't really feel like laughing at all the adultery some of the characters indulged in, having seen my first marriage end due to it.
Suzies1952 LalaLucy 13 months ago
Lalalucy, I know what you mean, I had a marriage break up also from adultery!, not to pleasant experience, I commented , about that, In my first message today about that same thing I liked him too because it f that, he portrayed a devoting living husband and father
Suzies1952 13 months ago
I can relate to his shyness, when I was 15, I moved in with my grandmother after my grandfather died, to take care of her, I started a new school halfway into my sophomore year, when I had to get in front of my class to speak, I talked so fast, was so nervous my teacher would make me say my speech, over and over again, to speak slower! But that never worked, I was so shy snd nervous, she had me do this over again about 10 times? Mad me mad, it didn’t work?, I still spoke too fast, the only boy, I could talk to, was the one that had his locker next to mine, I turned ten shades of red, if a boy looked at me, needless to say, never had a date until I was out of high school, I was al 6 foot tall beautiful blonde, you think I could of gotten a date, the boys were too stupid in my high school, I was a beautiful, tall, shy girl that’s all, not until college, did one of my professors, take the time to talk to me about all that, she’s the one who helped, it worked and rest of college, I could speak in front of a hundred people , with ease! And I didn’t graduate from college until I was 42!
So it took a while, but as I always say, your never too old for education, or to grow and get better!
LalaLucy Suzies1952 13 months ago
Thanks for sharing. I have always struggled with shyness. It was my high school drama teacher that really helped me. I still don't love every situation talking comes into play, but I can manage a lot better than I once did.
Suzies1952 13 months ago
I don’t like mustaches, so didn’t like BJ’s but I liked the rest of him, I guess I liked the most of his character, in mash, was his love for his wife and child he showed, snd except for the two times, they had him ne tempted by two women, he was a loyal and devoted husband and didn’t sleep around like all the other married men in the show!
K Suzies1952 1 month ago
I thought his mustache was an unattractive distraction.
Wiseguy70005 13 months ago
The writing on M*A*S*H started going downhill when BJ grew a mustache. (Not BECAUSE of the mustache, it's just a useful reminder of when it happened.)
timothys71 13 months ago
The character of Trapper John was hard to replace, but Hunnicut ended up being a great fit for the show.
CoreyC 13 months ago
Prior to M*A*S*H Mike Farrell was basically an unknown but given his personality he was the opposite of Alan Alda.
Runeshaper 13 months ago
Sounds like a very down to earth guy. When I was a kid, I was very shy too. My parents paid for me to take acting lessons at a local college and it really helped me come out of my shell (-:
JeffPaul76 13 months ago
I liked Mike Farrell as B.J., alright, But I liked Wayne Rogers way better as Capt. Trapper John McEntire. He was funnier.
LoveMETV22 13 months ago

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I'm sure Mike Farrell's shyness faded quickly working alongside Alan Alda.
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