‘M*A*S*H’: Why the Real-Life ‘Hawkeye’ Hated the Show

When people think of MAS*H and the character “Hawkeye,” they think about a shrewd, funny surgeon who’s passion for his job knew no bounds.

However, Captain Benjamin Franklin Pierce was also one of the most vocal anti-war characters on M*A*S*H. Pierce cared greatly for his patients and doing his job well. However, this was matched by his disdain for military bureaucracy and violence was equally vital to the character.

This is where the show’s original “Hawkeye” differed greatly from his TV portrayal. The original “Hawkeye” also happened to be Hiester Richard Hornberger Jr. For those who aren’t die-hard fans, Hornberger was better known as Richard Hooker, his alias while writing the book, MASH.

Before writing, Hornberger was a an aspiring doctor when he was drafted into the Korean War. His time in 8055 Mobile Army Surgical Hospital was the basis for his book, and by nature the hit show.

But while the book and movie featured Pierce as a witty doctor, the show played into the anti-war sentiment. This was not something that Hornberger ever expressed or felt.

According to History101, Pierce resented the show for its version of “Hawkeye.” While Alan Alda often gets praise for his portrayal, Hornberger was not a fan.

Further, the site says that Hornberger even said the show “trampled on his memories.” It probably didn’t help that he only received $500 per episode in royalties.

M*A*S*H Star Alan Alda Compared Show to The West Wing

Alan Alda’s journey through television spans decades and several hit shows. However, MAS*H and The West Wing are arguably his two most iconic programs. Each were wildly popular and critically successful, and Alda says there’s a specific reason for that.

As Outsider previously covered, Alda once did a group interview with other members of The West Wing to discuss the show. During the interview, Alda explained that both programs shared a crucial characteristic that made them successful.

“[Working on The West Wing] was similar in many ways to my experience on M*A*S*H,” Alda said. “Because you had people willing to work late at night to get it just right. The one-hour live debate that we did was one of the most exciting times for me on stage or on camera, because anything could go wrong.”

It goes without saying that the work ethic involved translated to massive success. MAS*H is still a revered show nearly 50 years on, and The West Wing is often said to be the greatest show of the 21st century. Or at least in the running.

Either way, the two show’s contributions to modern culture are undeniable. As is Alan Alda’s part in both programs.

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