The most acclaimed CBS comedy-drama, “M*A*S*H,” which ran nearly ran for a decade, came to an end back in 1983. The drama was set in the background of the Korean War in an Army mobile surgical Hospital. The series was very popular, and it gained as many as 106 million views in the series finale, setting a record for scripted television.
The series with war as a background story was airing when Vietnam War was about to end. It cast Alan Alda as Captain Hawkeye Pierce and Loretta Swit as Major Margaret Houlihan.
It was the season 3 finale when one of the main supporting actor Lt. Henry Blake, played by McLean Stevenson, died, setting back the fans. Blake was a fair and kind-hearted doctor who was well-liked by his staff. So, it was distressing, to put it mildly, when a surprised Radar O’Reilly broke the tragic news of his passing to a busy operating room at the mobile hospital.
Why was Mclean Stevenson’s character killed?
M*A*S*H was really popular among fans. Despite its increasing popularity and loyal fan base, Stevenson was not keen on continuing the show. He reportedly wanted to leave since he did not want to be in a supporting role for long. He always looked for playing a main character that would give him his well-deserved limelight and fame, which was not to be.
The creators of the show, Larry Gelbart and Gene Reynolds, later told the media that they wanted something dramatic and special with his character. The end shown was never a planned one and had to be done quite hastily. They would have given the character a well-deserved farewell ending which would have been much more appreciated by fans.
Blake perished as a result of his plane being shot, and along with him, there were no survivors. This showed the cruel and brutal side of a war. This demise was probably more hurting to the fans than Wayne Roger’s exit from the show. Viewers questioned the writing of the show, and some were not even ready to accept this fate.
The show makers, though, stood by their ground, and it was probably the correct decision to show the bloody side of war. This did show that war is beneficial to no one and how it breaks hearts. The show had a comical side to it, but it did, in fact, give a very important message to the public about how war always brings tragedies and how it destroys families. It was a direct dig at the Vietnam War, which had several loss of lives and broke up families.
How did Stevenson’s character Blake’s death become a turning point?
Fact that Blake survived the whole war initially and was on his way homemade, everyone believes that they would see a happy ending. His tragic death, that too, not on a battlefield but in such an unexpected manner, gave everyone chills.
Henry Blake’s demise in MASH was a shock for everyone. It also impacted the series big time. He was a major character who left the show. Other characters, such as Trapper and Frank Burns, quickly followed his steps. The show wanted to portray a realistic war. Everything is not what you expect it to be, and the fans did know it very well when Henry died. It really put fans through a dismal feeling of having lost the main character of the series, but it also gave everyone the reality check that wars are so cruel.
Mclean Stevenson: Who is he?
Edgar “Mac” McLean Stevenson Jr., an American actor and comedian who died on February 15, 1996, was born on November 14, 1927, and is most known for his memorable roles. He won a Golden Globe Award in 1974 for his depiction of Lieutenant Colonel Henry Blake in the hit television show MASH, which stands out as one of his most enduring roles.
Stevenson appeared on numerous television shows, such as The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and The Doris Day Show, in addition to his famed performance in MASH.