The classic TV show MAS*H entertained millions of viewers when it first ran on CBS and actor Jamie Farr just loved his fellow castmates. In fact, years later, Farr, who played Corporal Max Klinger, would call that show’s actors “the perfect dream cast.” We would tend to agree with him when talking about the likes of Alan Alda, Loretta Swit, Mike Farrell, Harry Morgan, and others.
Jamie Farr of ‘M*A*S*H’ Fame Maintains That Character Was ‘Always A Good Soldier’
As you may know, Klinger was a guy who always was looking for a way out of serving in Korea. Getting a Section 8, for a long time, was part of his mission in the 4077th. That changed when Klinger takes over for Radar, played by Gary Burghoff. In an interview featured in Closer, Farr said that “No matter what, he was always a good soldier. He would never jeopardize his comrades.”
Throughout the show’s run and in early iterations of Klinger, Farr would wear dresses. He would do anything just to get out of serving. The role would show Farr at his comedy best. Yet in later seasons, there became a type of depth and seriousness to Klinger’s work.
Actor Recalls First Time Playing Klinger On CBS Show
Let’s turn back the clock a little bit to the first time the actor would play Klinger. It was at a time when he really needed the work. Farr takes a minute and talks about this in a 2017 interview with the Toronto Sun.
“The director that week had me rehearse it kind of swishy and even though I didn’t feel it was right, I went along with him,” Farr said. “Then (writer) Larry Gelbart got onto the set and said ‘Jamie, this isn’t any good,’ and I said ‘I know, why don’t I just play him as a real guy.’”
It turns out that the actor’s dresses were quite colorful. Good thing as M*A*S*H needed a splash of color at times on the show and Farr talks about it. “The show was shot in color,” he said. “But everything, the jeeps, the tents, the uniforms, were olive drab, so I think Klinger’s outfits were the only things that brought color to the show. The cheesier and more outlandish the outfit, the better it was.”
People might wonder where the idea for Klinger wearing dresses comes from and it has a comedy connection. Years earlier, comedian Lenny Bruce wore a woman’s uniform during World War II and got kicked out. Show writers and creators turned that into a character named Klinger and the rest of it is TV history. Jamie Farr now has a good place in the history of classic TV, too.