“M*A*S*H” star Judy Farrell, best known for her role as Nurse Able on the series, died at the age of 84 Sunday.
Her son, Michael, confirmed the news to Fox News Digital.
Loretta Swit, who starred as Major Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan on “M*A*S*H,” says Farrell was “family.”
“Judy was a most beautiful woman — inside and out. We grew up together,” she told Fox News Digital. “She was family. This has been a painful loss, but we will always have the beauty of her memory. Rest in peace, Nurse Able.”
Judy Farrell with her former husband, fellow “M*A*S*H” star Mike Farrell.
“M*A*S*H” debuted in 1972 while the United States was still fighting the Vietnam War. It shared the dark, comedic antics within a field hospital set during the Korean War.
The CBS sitcom ran for 11 seasons and 256 episodes before wrapping up with the TV movie finale, “Goodbye, Farewell and Amen,” which drew in over 100 million viewers and remained the most-watched television program in American history for 27 years.
The cast of M*A*S*H
ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY, FEB. 28, 1983, ‘M*A*S*H’ FINALE DRAWS RECORD TV AUDIENCE OF OVER 100 MILLION
As Swit noted in her statement on Farrell’s passing, the cast remained close throughout the years.
“We might as well be joined at the hip. We see each other quite frequently,” she told Fox News Digital in 2017. “Every time we lose a comrade, it’s a body blow. We feel it harshly, badly. People always ask me, ‘Do you ever see them?’ When do I not see them? These aren’t casual acquaintances from years ago. This is my family. … So much of my life can be credited to my family.”
In 2022, the series celebrated its 50th anniversary. Star Alan Alda reflected on the milestone in an interview with People, saying he still has “gratitude that what we did all those years ago is still on people’s minds.”
“M*A*S*H” sitcom actors, from left, Jamie Farr, Loretta Swit, David Ogden Stiers, Harry Morgan, Mike Farrell, Alan Alda and William Christopher in a publicity portrait, circa 1978.
Here’s a look at the cast of one of the most popular TV series of all time, then and now.
KELLYE NAKAHARA’S ‘M*A*S*H’ CO-STARS ALAN ALDA, LORETTA SWIT REMEMBER THE LATE ACTRESS
Loretta Swit played Major Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan on “M*A*S*H.”
Loretta Swit starred as Major Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan on the series, the head nurse and highest-ranking female officer in the unit.
She earned two Emmys in the supporting actress in a comedy category for her work on the show and appeared in all 11 seasons.
After M*A*S*H, Swit appeared on shows like “The Love Boat” and “Murder, She Wrote,” as well as several appearances on “Hollywood Squares” from 1999-2004.
In addition to her acting work, Swit has pursued art, releasing a book of her work titled “SwitHeart” in 2019. She also put out a book on needlepoint, called “A Needlepoint Scrapbook,” in 1986.
Swit is involved in several charitable causes, including animal rights and supporting veterans.
In 2020, she used much of her time during quarantine raising awareness for military members and veterans.
“The times are challenging, but we are tough,” the “M*A*S*H” star told Fox News Digital at the time. “I have been networking. I have been shooting PSAs on my iPhone for New York City, the city I love, for the ASPCA and Ayla’s Acres for my love of animals, and Paws for Purple Hearts [because] I love veterans, POWs and [our] military.”
‘M*A*S*H’ STAR LORETTA SWIT DESCRIBES HER LASTING RELATIONSHIP WITH HER CO-STARS, FANS
Alan Alda played Captain Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce on “M*A*S*H.”
Alan Alda starred as the wisecracking Capt. Benjamin Franklin Pierce, better known as “Hawkeye,” in the series.
Hawkeye was the chief surgeon of the unit and a breakout character for Alda, who won two Emmys for his work on the show. Alda also wrote and directed many episodes, including the series finale TV movie “Goodbye, Farewell, Amen.”
After “M*A*S*H,” Alda continued acting, writing and directing with films like “The Four Seasons,” “Sweet Liberty,” and “A New Life.” In 2004, he earned an Oscar nomination for his role in “The Aviator,” alongside Leonardo DiCaprio.
He also continued television work with several appearances on “ER,” “30 Rock,” The Good Fight” and “Ray Donovan.”
In 2018, Alda announced he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease three years earlier, telling “Today,” “I’m good. I shake a little, but I’m good.”
Despite the diagnosis, Alda remains active not just physically, but in his career too. Last year, he appeared in “Ray Donovan: The Movie,” and is now on season 20 of his podcast, “Clear+Vivid with Alan Alda.”
On the podcast, Alda hosted a “M*A*S*H” reunion with some of the surviving cast in 2018.
“The reason why I wanted to bring them together was not just for the reunion. We have reunions all the time,” Alda told Fox News at the time. “We get together for dinner at least once a year. What I realized was that the experience with them on ‘M*A*S*H’ taught me something that really led in part to the podcast in itself.”
Alda said that, even now, he’s still learning some surprising facts about the making of the hit show.
“Mike Farrell tells a story really well about a series of practical jokes that everybody played on one another,” Alda chuckled. “It started with a hilarious joke that got even more hilarious when the other person got revenge. I wasn’t in on the practical jokes. So I didn’t know what happened. But it’s a really wonderful story, and Mike tells it very well on the podcast.”
ALAN ALDA TALKS REUNITING WITH ‘M*A*S*H’ CO-STARS, SECRET TO HIS LASTING MARRIAGE IN HOLLYWOOD
Gary Burghoff played Corporal Walter Eugene “Radar” O’Reilly on “M*A*S*H.”
Gary Burghoff played Cpl. Walter Eugene “Radar” O’Reilly in the series.
He originated the role in the 1970 Robert Altman film “M*A*S*H,” and both the series and movie were based on a book by author Richard Hooker, “MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors.”
In an interview for writer Ken Levine’s blog, Burghoff explained the difference in his approach to the film character and the television one. In the film, Burghoff described Radar as “a lone, darker and somewhat sardonic character,” while the television version was a “more innocent, naive character.” The actor earned six Emmy nominations and one win for his work on the show before leaving the series in 1979.
After “M*A*S*H,” he appeared on the short-lived “M*A*S*H” spinoffs “AfterMASH” and “W*A*L*T*E*R,” as well as other shows like “Fantasy Island,” “The Love Boat,” and “Tales of the Unexpected.” Burghoff retired from acting in 1995, with a brief return in the film “Daniel’s Lot.”
Outside of acting, Burghoff has had quite the career as an inventor. He holds a patent for a device called “Chum Magic,” which attracts fish to fishermen’s boats. He also invented an advanced fishing pole and a toilet seat lifting handle.
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Mike Farrell joined “M*A*S*H” in season four as Captain B.J. Hunnicutt.
Mike Farrell, who was briefly married to the late Judy Farrell in the early 1980s, joined “M*A*S*H” in season four as Capt. B.J. Hunnicutt, a new sidekick to Alda’s Hawkeye, after the departure of Wayne Rogers (“Trapper” John).
Farrell stayed on through the remainder of the show, and his character is the one who created the famous “Goodbye” spelled out in white rocks seen in the series finale. Farrell was nominated for an Emmy twice for his work on the series.
After “M*A*S*H,” Farrell had a prolific career as an actor, with appearances on “Murder, She Wrote” “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” and “Desperate Housewives.” He also landed a leading role in “Providence” in 1999 as the father to star Melina Kanakaredes’ character.
Farrell also worked behind the scenes as a producer on several projects, most notably the 1998 Robin Williams film “Patch Adams.”
The 84-year-old is also active in several political and social causes, including being a member of PETA, serving as co-chair for ten years with the California Human Rights Watch, sitting on the board for the Cult Awareness Network. He was also president of Death Penalty Focus for over ten years.
Jamie Farr’s character Cpl. Max Klinger quickly became a fan favorite on “M*A*S*H” for his wacky antics, including cross-dressing, to try to get discharged from the army.
After the series ended, Farr continued appearances on dozens of shows, including “Diagnosis Murder,” “Mad About You,” and “That 70s Show.”
He’s also starred in films like “Cannonball Run II,” “Scrooged,” and “A Month of Sundays.”
Farr returned to his theatrical roots as well, making his Broadway debut in 1994 as Nathan Detroit in “Guys & Dolls.” He also teamed up with fellow “M*A*S*H” star William Christopher for a version of “The Odd Couple.” The Ohio-born actor toured in several shows, include “The Will Rogers Follies,” “Oklahoma,” and “Oliver.”
Stephanie Nolasco contributed to this report.
Originally published April 5, 2023, 11:00 AM