M*A*S*H: The Full Story of one of TV’s Greatest Shows

On the 17th of September, 1972, TV fans all around America tuned in for the first episode of what would become one of the nation’s greatest and most memorable shows of all time. It was on this date that the very first episode of M*A*S*H aired. The show, a unique mixture of comedy and drama that shifted and changed over the years, finished its run in 1983 but is still beloved and respected to this day, cited time and again as one of the most beloved, highest-rated TV shows of all time.

The series, produced by 20th Century Fox Television and broadcast on the CBS network, ran for 11 seasons and a total of 256 episodes. Two spin-off shows – AfterMASH and Trapper John, M.D. – were also produced and enjoyed decent levels of success. And even now, in the modern era, M*A*S*H is still being shown all around the world and remains hugely popular with its ever-growing legions of fans.

The Beginning

M*A*S*H actually got started as a novel, published in 1968 and written by ex-military surgeon Dr. H. Richard Hornberger and W.C. Heinz under the pen name Richard Hooker. The book was called ‘MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors’ and followed a fictional U.S. Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) during the Korean War of 1950 to 1953.


Alan Alda, US actor, David Ogden Stiers, US actor, Jamie Farr, US actor, and William Christopher, US actor, saluting in a publicity still issued for the US television series ‘M*A*S*H’, USA, circa 1975. The medical comedy starred Alda as ‘Captain Benjamin Franklin ‘Hawkeye’ Pierce, Ogden Stiers as ‘Charles Emerson Winchester III’, Farr as ‘Maxwell Klinger’, and Christopher as ‘Father Mulcahy’. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)

The book served as inspiration for the 1970 feature film M*A*S*H, directed by Robert Altman and written by Ring Lardner Jr. The movie was a huge hit for the production company, 20th Century Fox, and even received five Oscar nominations. A sequel book, entitled M*A*S*H Goes to Maine, was written and published in 1972 and a film version was in the work but didn’t quite come to fruition, so a TV version was chosen as the perfect alternative.

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