Richard Lee-Sung instantly became one of the most popular guest stars in M*A*S*H history
When the actor delivered his famous line "This is me!" the entire set erupted in applause. "It was just a wonderful moment for me."
Read to Me
"Hey, is this goat for sale?" Klinger asks a farmer towing a giant cart of goods for sale through the camp.
"Yes," the farmer says, but it'll cost Klinger. "Twenty-five bucks."
Klinger convinces Hawkeye and B.J. to loan him the money, persuading them that they could make money off selling goat milk and promising the boys the goat’s first and second glasses of milk.
"Come to papa," Klinger cackles when he’s free to take the goat's reins. "I'm gonna milk you for all you're worth!"
This tenth-season finale of M*A*S*H is called "That Darn Kid," and it served as a send-off for the actor who played the farmer in this scene, Richard Lee-Sung.
Lee-Sung appeared in 11 episodes, from the third season to the tenth, during which time — as verified by the book TV's M*A*S*H: The Ultimate Guide Book — Lee-Sung became "one of the most popular guest stars of the entire series."
In the guide book, producer Burt Metcalfe said even though Lee-Sung wasn’t really a trained actor, he was naturally very funny. "Sometimes he didn't even know he was being funny," Metcalfe said.
While "That Darn Kid" was the last time we saw Lee-Sung, his most memorable appearance was definitely his first. In "Officer of the Day," the surgeons had to attend to various Korean personnel and Lee-Sung played the second patient named Kim Luc that Hawkeye saw in one day.
"Can you identify yourself?" Hawkeye asks Kim Luc.
"This is me!" Kim Luc says with eager enthusiasm.
Lee-Sung's hilarious delivery of this line remains memorable, and the actor even shared some comments in the guide book on how M*A*S*H crew reacted when he first nailed the delivery.
"The cast was a wonderful cast," Lee-Sung said. "They were professionals and really great human beings … all of them. That's why they worked so well together. And I joined them, they went hysterical with me over the Kim Luc thing… The crew and everyone went hysterical over the scene and my one line, 'This is me.' It was my first experience where the crew was applauding and having a heck of a time. So, it was just a wonderful moment for me."
Lee-Sung was born in Texas, but moved to Los Angeles early in his childhood. As soon as he graduated high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps, served in the Korean War and earned a Purple Heart.
With the actors Mako and Kathleen Freeman as his mentors and influences, Lee-Sung began studying acting and voicing commercials. Then he started appearing in TV roles in 1965, when he first got cast as a seaman in an I Spy episode.
On TV through the 1980s, we saw him on shows like Happy Days, Kung Fu, Starsky and Hutch, How the West Was Won, Quincy M.E. and Airwolf. Then he took a brief turn and appeared on the big screen in roles for hit movies like Another 48 Hours and Inspector Gadget.
His bald head and bushy mustache made him memorable in each role, but Lee-Sung, who is of Chinese and Mexican descent, said there wasn’t a lot of demand for Asian actors throughout his career.
"I haven't worked that much because I have to wait for Asian roles," Lee-Sung said. "Kung Fu and M*A*S*H was where all the Asian-American actors got to work."
Lee-Sung appeared on M*A*S*H 11 times, as well as on the spin-off series Trapper John, M.D. and AfterMASH.
For him, his most memorable appearance on the show, however, wasn’t his first or his last appearance, but something he said was especially shocking that happened behind the scenes of his second episode.
In "Dear Mildred," Lee-Sung played a village craftsman charged with carving a wooden bust of Colonel Potter. He said he'd rehearsed the role with the cast, but on the second day of filming, Alan Alda (who was directing the episode) came up to him and when he asked Lee-Sung to ditch the broken English accent he'd been using, the direction came as a shock to Lee-Sung.
"You know, I couldn’t sleep last night, and decided you should forget the accent," Alda said, suggesting instead that Lee-Sung make the character come off as a businessman who knows both languages as part of his trade.
"I was so shocked," Lee-Sung said. "They usually want a certain image, and for Alan Alda to tell that was a shock. No one had ever done that in Hollywood, in all the years I'd worked."
Lee-Sung never forgot the impact of Alda’s direction in this scene.
"I wish the whole world knew how wonderful Alan Alda is… how caring, in trying to make things right," Lee-Sung said.