For anyone who has watched M*A*S*H before, seeing Larry Linville play Frank Burns might leave you feeling a bit slimy. He played it that way.
See, Linville starred as the hyped-up, psyched-out major on the CBS sitcom. Some of the plots were interesting involving him, too. Let’s see what is going down in this slimeball of a character thanks to MeTV.
Remember that Burns had the hots for Margaret Houlihan, played by Loretta Swit. How did this work on the show? Back in 1975, Linville told The Shreveport Journal that he thought Margaret looked to Frank as a father figure. “You know Loretta and I are running right down a razor blade,” Linville said. “We have to stay on the edge [of true romance] and that calls for a lot of controlled acting.”
‘M*A*S*H’ Star Linville Admits That Burns Is ‘Type of Character I Personally Despise’
But he had a solid comeback about that when it came to M*A*S*H. This was a big role in his career, too. But he wanted to help people recognize slimeballs like Frank Burns. That way, they can turn away and run.
“Frank is the type of character I personally despise,” Linville said. “It’s a matter of ego, but I think I’m doing a service by delineating this type of person. You know, so you’ll be able to recognize him.”
Linville called his character “a dangerous piece of work” in a 1995 interview with United Press International. “I pulled out every box in my head marked nerd, moron and slime,” Linville told The Philadelphia Inquirer in 1986. He said that playing Burns required a balancing act that Linville had to do where he said he felt like, “You either had to look like a total fool or just be repulsive.”
Actor Went Through Numerous Marriages, Was Coy Around Any Romance With Swit
At the time that he created Frank Burns, Linville was a married man. From 1962 to 1975, his wife was Kate Geer, the actor daughter of Will Geer (The Waltons). Joining this acting family, Linville shared the screen with both his wife and his father-in-law in his career.
Then, the M*A*S*H star learned upon his fourth marriage to Susan Hagan in 1986 to be a bit coy. He was once asked by The News and Observer if he and Swit ever had romance on the set. Linville replied: “Never kiss and tell.” He would be married a fifth time in his life, too.
No matter how much “slime” Linville put into Frank Burns to make him despicable, though, the character ended up being directly responsible for attracting the actor’s fifth wife to him. Finding both roles and love both proved to be finicky for Linville.