‘M*A*S*H’: Here’s Why Father Mulcahy Actor William Christopher Had to Leave the Show Temporarily

When watching M*A*S*H in reruns, fans are pretty adept at looking for differences. Did you notice when William Christopher wasn’t on it?

Christopher, of course, played Father Francis Mulcahy, the Catholic priest warmly called “Padre” by Colonel Sherman Potter, played by Harry Morgan. Well, Christopher did not appear on some episodes of M*A*S*H as he had to temporarily leave.

What happened to him? Let’s take a little look at it with some help from MeTV.

He was diagnosed with hepatitis, and it almost killed Christopher. Yes, the M*A*S*H actor did miss a number of episodes. But he did recover, and actor-director Alan Alda made sure Father Mulcahy always had a place in the 4077th.

The show even managed to have an episode titled Hepatitis that was directed by Alda, who played Hawkeye Pierce, and the title references Christopher’s illness.

While the CBS show started out as a sitcom, the tone would change in later seasons. The effects of war on both doctors and patients, along with Koreans too, would become matters that would become a focus in different episodes.

Besides Alda, Christopher, and Morgan, others in the cast over the years included Wayne Rogers, Loretta Swit, McLean Stevenson, Gary Burghoff, Jamie Farr, and Mike Farrell. M*A*S*H would be quite a show that brought different elements of the war experience to life on TV screens.

‘M*A*S*H’ Star Gary Burghoff Actually Appeared In Robert Altman Movie Version

Fans of the show do have a soft spot in their hearts for Radar O’Reilly, played by Gary Burghoff on M*A*S*H.

What did he do beyond the show? Burghoff did appear in the Robert Altman-directed movie version of M*A*S*H

He would then come back and play it on TV. Burghoff broke through, so to speak, in 1967. He was cast as Charlie Brown in the off-Broadway production of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.

Back to the 1970 movie of M*A*S*H. He played opposite Donald Sutherland and Elliott Gould as Pierce and Trapper John, respectively.

Radar was inspired by Don Shaffer, who served with Richard Hooker. And as M*A*S*H experts know, Hooker wrote the book, which inspired the movie that helped launch the classic TV show. Shaffer was born in Iowa and went by the nickname Radar.

In the movie, Radar was a schemer. Burghoff changed into a child-like, naive soul on the TV show.

M*A*S*H executive producer Gene Reynolds said of Radar and Gary Burghoff: “Beautiful character, very funny. Marvelous actor, very gifted actor. And he was, for us, he was like a little boy in the camp. Kids could identify: I could be Radar. Then identified with M*A*S*H through Radar.”

Just another way for fans to identify with a character near and dear to their hearts.

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