Monster M*A*S*H
Gary Burghoff
Gary Burghoff in 2012
Personal Information
Gender: Male
Birthname Gary Richard Burghoff
Born: (1943-05-24) May 24, 1943 (age 78)
Birthplace Bristol, Connecticut, U.S.
Actor/Wildlife Painter and Artist
Years active: 1966-2010
Character information
Appeared on/in: MASH (film) and M*A*S*H TV series
W*A*L*T*E*R (Unsold TV pilot)
Episodes appeared in: 155 M*A*S*H episodes from Seasons 1-8
2 episodes of AfterMASH in Guest appearances
Character(s) played: Walter Eugene "Radar" O'Reilly

Gary Richard Burghoff (born May 24, 1943) is an American actor, known for playing Charlie Brown in the 1967 Off-Broadway musical You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, and the character Corporal Walter Eugene "Radar" O'Reilly in the M*A*S*H movie and TV series.

Life and career[]

Burghoff was born in Bristol, Connecticut and got started in acting and drumming during his high school years in Delavan, Wisconsin. In 1967 he originated the role of Charlie Brown in the original Off-Broadway production of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown. He later was the drummer for a band called the Relatives in 1968. Actress Lynda Carter was the band's singer. The group opened at the Sahara Hotel and Casino lounge in Las Vegas Valley, Nevada for three months. Remaining friends, Carter helped cast him in an episode of her later hit series The New Adventures of Wonder Woman, in the 1978 episode "The Man Who Wouldn't Tell".


Although several actors from the original MASH film made guest appearances in the television series, Burghoff was the only actor cast as a regular.

He left M*A*S*H after the seventh season because of burnout and a desire to spend more time with his family, though he returned the following year to tape a special two-part farewell episode, "Goodbye Radar." He said in an interview that he realized it was time to leave the show when he was relaxing in his pool. He heard a plane fly overhead and froze, like his character would do on the show. Though Radar was only 18, Gary was nearly 30 when he was playing Radar. Fellow cast member Mike Farrell tried to persuade Burghoff to stay on the show, citing the lacklustre careers of former M*A*S*H regulars Larry Linville and McLean Stevenson after their departures. Burghoff was nominated for six Emmy Awards for the show in the category of Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series and, of those nominations, he won an Emmy in 1977.

Covering the conclusion of M*A*S*H for TV Guide in 1983, Burt Prelutsky wrote, "Although nobody wanted to be quoted for the record, the feelings about Gary Burghoff's leaving were fairly unanimous: loved Radar, hated Burghoff. As summed up by one of the principals: 'Gary had personality problems. He always felt there was a conspiracy against him. He was rude to everyone, but if anyone ever said anything back to him, he'd throw a tantrum. Once, Mike Farrell told him that his problem was that he could dish it out but he couldn't take it, and Gary said, "And I'm getting real sick and tired of dishing it out." The poor guy didn't even realize what he'd said.'"[1]

In the episode "Showtime," Radar is seen playing a solo on the drums. It is a misconception that the sound was dubbed in; it was Gary Burghoff's actual performance.[2]

Match Game[]

Burghoff also frequently appeared on the game show Match Game in the 1970s, both as a stand-in for regular Charles Nelson Reilly and also as the "special male guest" occupying seat one. He often sat in for Reilly from late 1974 until Match Game episode 471 when Reilly returned in 1975 from the Broadway stage. He appeared in 248 episodes of Match Game through its daytime run, syndicated run, and the nighttime version of the show. 215 episodes daytime, 18 episodes on Match Game PM (nighttime), and 15 episodes during the syndicated version.

Later career[]

Burghoff appeared regularly on TV, making appearances on other game shows as well like Tattletales, Hollywood Squares, and Showoffs. He also appeared in the film B.S. I Love You, as well as an episode of The Love Boat. His M*A*S*H character Radar O'Reilly was spun off into an unsold TV show called W*A*L*T*E*R. Burghoff also appeared in an episode of The New Adventures of Wonder Woman "The Man Who Wouldn't Tell" in 1978, where he was reunited with his former band member Diana Prince a.k.a. Wonder Woman (played by Lynda Carter).

Burghoff also works as a professional jazz drummer, heading the trio The We Three, and as a wildlife painter. His other activities include outdoorsman ship and rifle shooting. Burghoff is also the inventor of (and holds a United States patent on) the "Chum Magic", a fishing tackle invention that attracts fish toward the user's boat.[3][4]

Burghoff is a philatelist and was the star of a United States Postal Service video for beginning stamp collectors. In 2000, Burghoff was also a spokesman for dot-com era auction aggregation site[5]

He came out of retirement in 2010 to star in the Christian movie release, Daniel's Lot.[6]


Burghoff's left hand is withered and misshapen with the fingers being very short—no cause is known for it, though it is presumed to be a birth defect known as a localized dysmelia. In M*A*S*H, he is often seen carrying a clipboard or other object to conceal the defect, though there are scenes where it can be seen very well, especially in the pilot episode of M*A*S*H*.


Burghoff was married to Janet Gayle, from 1971 to 1979; they had one child before their divorce. In 1985, he married Elisabeth Bostrom; the couple have two children.


  1. Burt Prelutsky, "So Long, 4077th: The Troops Scatter, but the Memories Linger." TV Guide, February 12, 1983, p.21
  2. M*A*S*H: Showtime:All My Reviews,, added Dec 12, 2007, first accessed May 17, 2011.
  3. The reality of "Radar", by Tim Ryan for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin accessed 2008-03-26.
  4. U.S. Patent No. 5,235,774, Enhanced fish attractor device, August 17, 1993, Gary Burghoff, inventor.
  5. Home Page
  6. Daniel's Lot at Internet Movie Database