There was a bounty on the M*A*S*H finale script

Place your bets on how high the bidding went.

In 1982, the biggest story of the television season was the final episode of M*A*S*H. It was arguably the most successful show in television history, and much has been written about the historical finale. Facts and figures abound in much of the hindsight reflection, but little that's discussed can capture the monumental magnitude of "Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen." It broke records, sure, but it also very delicately landed M*A*S*H, providing a satisfying ending to one of the most consistent shows of all time. 

Fan anticipation (fanticipationanyone?) was reaching a fever pitch. The M*A*S*H finale was going to be a once-in-a-lifetime TV movie, and the entire culture seemingly held its breath to see how it all would play out. M*A*S*H didn't pull any punches. Characters had died in the past. Relationships came and went. So, what was going to happen?

Apparently, some people were willing to put their money where their... curiosity was.

"The going rate for a script of the movie is $35,000," M*A*S*H star Loretta Swit told Field News Service in 1982.  She would know.  Swit was personally approached about leaking the much sought-after finale script to the press.

Of all the likely culprits, the offender might seem a little bit too obvious. Apparently, The National Enquirer was the publication most directly tied to soliciting script leaks in the run-up to M*A*S*H's finale. You can picture it sitting in the check-out lane, right next to the chewing gum: "M*A*S*H finale: Revealed!" 

Luckily for television fans everywhere, Swit didn't sell. She wouldn't even discuss the episode's details in interviews. The story stayed under wraps and aired as intended.

Swit and everyone else involved revealed just one key piece of information: The M*A*S*H finale was worthy of the show's legacy.

Watch M*A*S*H on MeTV!

Weeknights at 6 PM, Sundays at 7 PM

*available in most MeTV markets
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?
Close

24 Comments

John 3 months ago
ENOUGH MASH already.
MeTv is a good idea except when they only air a very limited number of episodes. As a regular viewer more diversity is needed.
AND enough Mash I'm starting to feel like a MASHED potato.
DaleWarshaw 3 months ago
The Enquirer DID somehow get the story before the show aired, and I read it in the check-out line and was immediately sorry I did! As soon as I started reading it, it all sounded too true to be made up, and I realized I'd "spoilered" myself. I still have the issue.
MichaelVegas 3 months ago
Maybe I am in the rare area here, but I did not like the final MASH. I mean it was Hawkeye having a breakdown, then he is cleared for service again, then there is a fire and everyone has to bug out, then they can go back to where they were, it was just all over the place and had a lot of stuff that did not need to be there, I mean the bug out and back was all just filler. The only real good part that made sense was the last 20 or so minutes where everyone said goodbye
Moverfan MichaelVegas 3 months ago
The bug out and the camp burning was added because a wildfire during filming burned a good chunk of the camp down--the bug out itself may have been in the script originally, but the fire wasn't.
sagafrat69 3 months ago
Gunsmoke ran for 20 seasons and the quality of the episodes never diminished season to season. I can't think of any shows that looked so different from the beginning to the end of its run. MASH in the early seasons had the dramatic moments and spoke of the "madness of war" and still produced some of the best comedy for a show ever. The show was incredibly mediocre the last few seasons. Plain and simple. Koenig ,Mumford,Davis and Karen Hall rode the coattails of previous writers before them and came up short. I've wondered what a finale would've looked like with Gelbart and Reynolds at the helm. I suspect the finale would've been a lot more funnier while still making statements about "the madness of war".
Wiseguy70005 sagafrat69 3 months ago
Same as the Dreams episode, would have been better if done earlier plus we would have seen Radar's dream.
Avie 3 months ago
"M*A*S*H] was arguably the most successful show in television history, and much has been written about the historical finale."

HISTORIC (anything of great consequence, whether it took place in the past or not), NOT historical (anything having taken plae in the past whether it's important or not). The two words do NOT mean the same thing.

As for

"Swit and everyone else involved revealed just one key piece of information: The M*A*S*H finale was worthy of the show's legacy."

No, it wasn't: there was widespread and entirely justifed disappointment in the finale. It was largely unworthy of the eleven season of shows that preceded it.
Wiseguy70005 Avie 3 months ago
I was going to mention that after I read the finale was "satisfying." Many didn't think so.
AgingDisgracefully 3 months ago
I hear Matthew Perry did a major petulance when denied the chance to speak the final line.
Show people...
sagafrat69 3 months ago
MASH should've ended after season 7. Didn't need seasons 8-11. First 4 seasons and last 4 seasons look like two different shows. No real comedy and all drama in those last seasons. MASH supposed to be a COMEDY! Had read a story year before finale aired that Larry Gelbart might be involved in finale script. Sadly it didn't happen. Those writers the last few years of show didn't live up to standards set by Gelbart and Reynolds. Very disappointing the way show ended. Not the fault of the actors. It was the poor writing that plaqued the series the last few seasons of the series.
mackjaz sagafrat69 3 months ago
Does anything worthwhile stay unchanged for eight years? If a 15 year old stayed the same until they were 23, we'd put that person in a mental facility. Would you eat the same meal every day for eight years? They had every right to let their show explore new subject matter, to change tone from a wacky comedy to a more serious drama, and to make a statement against the madness of war.
dmarkwind sagafrat69 3 months ago
I'm often surprised M*A*S*H survived its first two seasons! I understand the show was still finding its footing, establishing its characters, and deciding how to differentiate the TV series from the R-Rated movie the preceded it, but in many of those early episodes, Hawkeye was far from the moral stalwart he would later be perceived as, and what passed for comedy in the first few seasons was little more than sexual harassment that wouldn't fly in the age of "Me Too." Other characters also acted in ways they never would have in later seasons. For example, there's an early episode in which Radar steals an Army jeep by sending it home in installments via the mail! Doesn’t seem in character for the shy and caring company clerk we get to know later. In the long view, M*A*S*H was a show that presented liberal ideas using very relatable characters in a comedy-drama setting and it appealed to people from across the political spectrum - even folks who would have never sat still to hear those ideas presented a different way.
Wiseguy70005 sagafrat69 3 months ago
I agree but I would say the first six seasons. As soon as the seventh season started back in 1978 I felt there was something off in the writing and it only got worse.
JHP 3 months ago
I asked Robert Petrie about scripts and he said I should say $250K
Yort 3 months ago
MASH is probably the greatest show of all time. The acting, the writing, the directing was top notch. That being said I am sick and tired of it! I've seen every episode about a hundred times. It runs for hours during prime time. MeTV please start showing other shows during prime time like Gunsmoke (625 episodes!) or Matlock or something else with a plot.
Jeffrey Yort 3 months ago
I agree with you 100%! I've seen every episode at least 10,000 times each over the years. With all the reruns and marathons on different networks and channels, like TV Land & others I can't think of right now. I have said to MeTV to replace it with something else over the years in comment sections like this one, & they don't do anything about it.
327053 Yort 3 months ago
I agree. MASH is a great show, but they have room to put something else in the slot.(Bring Gomer back)
dmarkwind Jeffrey 3 months ago
"I have said to MeTV to replace it with something else over the years in comment sections like this one, & they don't do anything about it." - I can relate to and sometimes experience M*A*S*H fatigue myself, but I'm also pretty sure MeTV execs have done the math and concluded no other show is going to bring in as many viewers during this rerun timeslot as M*A*S*H does. Heck, they even doubled the weekday times the show airs earlier this year! Doubt it's going anywhere anytime soon, so if you don't like it, change the channel (I do when it's not an episode I really want to see again)!
Wiseguy70005 Yort 3 months ago
Matlock and Gunsmoke are seen daily five or six times a week. It does well for them there and they're not about to change it.
leekaren1 3 months ago
My brother threw a MASH bash to watch the last episode. We all dressed in character..I was nurse Kelly. We had the sign post n all. The episode itself made me sad, Hawkeye breakdown, etc. It seemed to capture more of the serious side of war consequence and not so much of the satire, sarcasm of past episodes. The final Good Bye from BJ was excellent. Writers were top notch for this show and the cast was fun. Never knew where Jones left after first couple episodes? Anyway, loved this show.
Runeshaper 3 months ago
$35K!!! I'm glad everyone kept the info to themselves.

P.S. I like "fanticipation"
MrsPhilHarris 3 months ago
How come so many MASH stories?
PiperMaru MrsPhilHarris 3 months ago
And why do you comment on every one of them?
Lisagm PiperMaru 3 months ago
I knew there had to be people around that love M*A*S*H* more than I do. Thank you!
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?