You can thank Larry Linville for one of the most memorable M*A*S*H episodes

We never thought we'd be grateful for Frank Burns.

Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution

Best remembered as glorious little stinker Frank Burns in M*A*S*H, Larry Linville is the man we love to hate. In a strange sort of irony, Linville did such a superb job playing the role of Major Burns that the animosity viewers may have felt toward the character may have translated into real life.

In an interview with The Chicago Tribune, Linville's former M*A*S*H costar, Harry Morgan, praised Linville's loveably annoying performance in the hit series.

"You know Linville, who was absolutely great, never even got nominated for an Emmy?" Morgan said. "I think he left the show (after five seasons) because he got tired of playing such a perfect jerk."

While Linville was never recognized for his acting abilities, he should also be noted for his work off-screen as well. So faithful to the cast was the crew of M*A*S*H that actors were often encouraged to share their own ideas about characters and plot developments. In fact, according to an interview with The Philadelphia Inquirer, Linville had a hand in one of the most popular M*A*S*H episodes of the entire series.

In its first season, M*A*S*H premiered the episode "Sometimes You Hear the Bullet" In it, Hawkeye is forced to watch as his childhood friend passes away before his very eyes on the operating table. "He ends up shot to bits and dies on Hawkeye's operating table," Linville said.

According to the actor, the original script called for Hawkeye to immediately leave the room in tears, overcome with emotion. However, Linville changed the script to keep Hawkeye in the scene, instead moving to another patient and only breaking down after the job is done.

It seems almost odd to think that a man so thoughtful behind the scenes could have played such a foul character, but it seemed to be by Linville's design. "I pulled out every box in my head marked nerd, moron, and slime," he said when describing his creation of Frank Burns. However, perhaps it was because Linville himself was a member of the cast that he was able to make such a strong directional choice — demonstrating that even when shattered and overwhelmed with emotion, the 4077th knows that people are depending on them and will continue to put their needs above their own.

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28 Comments

kevin01 7 days ago
I cant wait till the cartoons start all the old ones
timothys71 13 days ago
Larry Linville did a great job of portraying a character whom you're supposed to NOT like--LOL!
Avie 19 days ago
"According to the actor, the original script called for Hawkeye to immediately leave the room in tears, overcome with emotion. However, Linville changed the script to keep Hawkeye in the scene, instead moving to another patient and only breaking down after the job is done."

Linville didn't "change the script," as he didn't have that authority. He could only SUGGEST to Alan Alda and the producers that the scene might play better the way he perceived it.
Wiseguy70005 20 days ago
Seems like MeTV confuses the actor and the character often.
VernCaldwell 20 days ago
I watched him guest on Adam 12 in reruns. I couldn't break my mind loose from him as Frank Burns. But after seeing that episode a couple times he was pretty good character player. RIP Larry. You may be remembered as a jerk in M*A*S*H but on a couple occasions you did show some heart.
Watch him on MeTV's Mannix in a recurring role as one Mannix's police contacts (2nd to 4th seasons). Other M*A*S*H actors to appear in the series include Mike Farrell, John Orchard (Ugly John), Johnny Haymer (Zelmo Zale) and Loretta Swit (twice).
jd4862 20 days ago
Can't stand the Burns character because they had to write the Margaret character to be as unlikable. After Burns left they started writing Margaret with more self respect and empathy.
AgingDisgracefully 20 days ago
If Frank were alive today, he'd be deploying a Neener-Neener! and a Nerts! to all the...Haters.
As Martyrs do.
fob1xxl 20 days ago
Back in the early 70s, I studied acting at "Theater Of Arts" in Los Angeles, California. Larry was my acting coach. He was one hell of a nice guy and a very talented actor and coach. I am honored to have studied under him. When he made it, he made it big !
MikefromJersey 22 days ago
Larry Linville did a good job in a thankless role.
But by the end, "Frank" was so childish and inane - don't forget this was a surgeon, wether
a top notch one is beside the point, he had to have a certain level of intellect and skill - that he bore no relation to reality and became a glaring distraction that undermined any given story.
"Frank" was well past his 'use by' date, it was time for him to go.
The last regular 30 minute episode was sabotaged as well by how absolutely stupid the Sgt. Rizzo
character had become. He tosses disarmed hand grenades at officers - the writers must have been drunk - and not only wasn't he immediately arrested and jailed, it was somehow supposed to be
funny, the officers without recourse in dealing with a ill educated swamp rat, a gold bricking loser
lifer enlisted man.
Regular Army Potter would never have countenanced such a sham of an NCO in his command.
MASH had definitely worn out its welcome in its last two years, the good episodes few and
far between. MASH and The Drew Carey Show would be better served without rerunning the
last few seasons. By its end Drew had been married 4 times, once to a man, the last to
a blonde woman so hot she could have been a super model. Star Drew Carey probably
cast her just for the love scenes as his series character had no shot at her in any given
reality.
Four marriages, that's one more than Ben Cartwright who only stuck to women though rumor
has it he did cast an eye on Hop Sing once or twice.
Load previous comments
Regarding networks sending out series pre-edited, I accept your superior knowledge.
However Antenna is apparently run by crazed shears wielding editors.
To verify my impression of them, I sat down in my den - which still has a VCR hooked up -
and taped, while watching, a Adam-12. Adam-12 without ads was 18 minutes, thats including
the opening and closing. I assume they lopped out an additional 3 or 4 minutes for the extra
ads, during the 4 commercial breaks. Breaks not inserted where originally intended, but smack
in the middle of the high points, I assume to keep the viewer riveted to their seat.
Since they had no respect for the material, I have little for them.
Thus I only watch Carson on that network.
I have mentioned it here before, but when they ran The Joey Bishop Show, they STOPPED
exactly at the 24 minute mark. 5 1/2 minutes of commercials, then the end credits.
You never got to see the end, or point, of each episode, they'd stop it with Joey
in mid-sentence!
Especially when Barney Fife was on, they inflated a life raft in Joeys cabin, with waters
rising, and NOTHING! Ad break to the end. I was so angry, as I was denied the chance
to see what Barney was going to do, being a TAGS fan.
The twist was, the end credits listed the 'actor'
"Barney Fife as Deputy Sheriff Don Knotts"
evidently Barney went to Hollywood and tried acting for a day.
It was on You Tube, may still be, well worth watching if you are a TAGS fan.
Wiseguy,
Thank you so much for the info on the Carey Show. You just cleared something up, as
I was wondering why the last season - STILL - was run out of order when I recently
watched them! I assume rerun packages follow the order the networks originally
ran them?
Because "Surfside 6" wrongly ran the pilot episode in the 2nd slot 60 years ago.
And ever since episode 2 runs in the 1 spot. Causing much confusion because
I had no idea who the characters were, their relationship to each other, when I
recently started watching it before Warner Brothers swooped in and deleted the
series on You Tube.
I used to like Antenna TV just as much as MeTV, until the station that carried Antenna TV in my area dropped it when they picked up the CW and insisted on carrying that network in HD. The only way they could free up enough bandwidth to do that was to reduce the number of subchannels, and Antenna TV was one of the casualties.
timothys71 Wiseguy70005 13 days ago
I believe the cable channel formerly known as Noggin used to edit The Electric Company when they reran it a while back--because that show originally aired on noncommercial PBS.
jmworacle 22 days ago
Isn't ironic that Larry Linville was reviled on camera and one of the most beloved character Gery Burhoff was the total.
I didn't know that, could you provide more info on that please? Thank you.
frenchman71 23 days ago
Larry Linville was a total professional when it came to acting. An actor that plays his role so well people think he's like that in real life. Him & Trapper were my favorite characters. FYT...Before MASH LInville played another Dr in what would be one of the highest rated TV movies of all-time, "The Night Stalker".
John 23 days ago
I've had about enough of MASH.
On 4 times a day.
Kind of repulsive actually. Shame it turned into the Hekyll and Jekyll show with Farrell and Alda.
Is it possible to wear the same red bathrobe for 11 years?
JoonBug John 20 days ago
LOL. TBF, the war only lasted 3 years, so it was possible for the robe to last that long. 4 times a day? Wow. Only shows up once a day where I live.
jd4862 JoonBug 20 days ago
They run it from 6:00pm to 8:00pm on METV where I live.
Wiseguy70005 John 20 days ago
DABL shows the sitcom Girlfriends four times a day EVERY day (not just weekdays). Big difference there are only 172 episodes compared with M*A*S*H's 255 so they are repeated much more often.
kingpirate 24 days ago
My favorite character, won't watch MASH episodes without him in it.
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