Monster M*A*S*H

Captain Augustus Bedford “Duke” Forrest was a surgeon assigned to the 4077th M*A*S*H* who arrived with Hawkeye Pierce in both the original novel M*A*S*H* - A Novel About Three Army Doctors in 1968 which was written by Richard Hooker (actual name H. Richard Hornberger) and the 1970 Academy Award-winning film which was directed by Robert Altman.

Character description[]

Duke, who hails from Georgia, was, in the book, given the physical description of a young surgeon of around age 29, under 6 feet tall, red hair, blue eyes, married with two daughters.

In the 1970 MASH film film, Duke was played by actor Tom Skerritt, later of CBS-TV's Picket Fences TV show fame, who is dark haired and 37, at the time, and stands at 6'1". unlike the novel description of Duke. A surgeon from a small southern town, Forrest City, Georgia, Duke, who shared a jeep with Hawkeye Pierce (Donald Sutherland) upon his arrival at the 4077th, later shares a tent with Major Frank Burns, Capt. Pierce, and Trapper John McIntyre.

Upon the arrival of Captain Oliver Harmon "Spearchucker" Jones (played by Fred Williamson in the film), there is initially some friction between him and the new black surgeon, until Hawkeye and Trapper rebukes him and then when Duke later discover his prowess as a surgeon and that he is also a pro football player who has recently been offered a contract by the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles, after having started his pro career with the San Francisco 49ers.

After getting rebuked by both Trapper and Hawkeye while a few drinks together in the swamp, the friction is eased as the camp prepares for an intercamp football game with a Marine EVAC unit in the area. However, despite his prominent role in the movie, the Duke Forrest character did not survive into the television series. Tom Skerritt had reportedly turned down the offer from 20th Century Fox to reprise his role as Duke on the M*A*S*H TV series because he did not think that a half-hour television adaptation of the film would be successful.

Forrest never appeared as a character on the TV show, but In the Season 3 episode "Life With Father", Trapper remembers a former colleague: "Captain Forrest", a brain surgeon who "fell down a lot." Hawkeye points out that "he left two years ago." This could be a reference to Captain Duke Forrest.

In another Season 3 episode when asked in one episode what happened to "that surgeon you had from Georgia", Trapper answered, "He got sent stateside!" This is also a faintly possible reference to Forrest.