Gary Burghoff, best known for playing Cpl. Walter “Radar” O’Reilly in the hit television series MAS*H, chose family over fame and fortune, retiring from his role on the show to focus on his family life. In an interview with People, Burghoff stated that he left the show not because of any disagreements, but because he wanted to spend more time with his family. He also turned down several lucrative offers for television roles after leaving the show. Burghoff’s devotion to his family was evident, as he worked only part-time in regional theatre productions so that he could be with them for the majority of his time.
Gary Burghoff’s career
Burghoff started his acting career with small roles in television shows such as The Virginian and The Time Tunnel. However, it was his role as Radar in MASH that catapulted him to fame. Burghoff was the only actor who played his character in both the television series and the film version of MASH. He played Cpl. Walter “Radar” O’Reilly, the company clerk (and sometimes bugler) for the U.S. Army’s Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) during the Korean War.
Radar was known for his childlike innocence and his ability to anticipate the needs of his fellow soldiers. He was also famous for his pet raccoon, which he kept in his quarters. Burghoff’s portrayal of Radar was so memorable that his character became an icon in the MAS*H franchise.
Retiring from MAS*H
Burghoff’s demanding schedule on the set of MASH began to take a toll on his family life. In an interview with The Television Academy Foundation, MASH director Charles S. Dubin said that Burghoff was having marital problems during the time when the show was filming. The Goodbye Radar episodes, in which Radar has to say goodbye to a woman he loves, caused Burghoff to break down in tears because the story mirrored his own personal struggles.
Burghoff left MAS*H after seven seasons, with his character leaving the show in a two-part farewell titled Good-Bye Radar. Although producers offered him a $4 million contract to continue playing Radar, Burghoff declined, choosing instead to spend more time with his family.
Choosing family over fame and fortune
Burghoff’s decision to leave MASH and turn down lucrative offers for television roles was a testament to his devotion to his family. In an interview with People, he stated that he could have renegotiated his contract with MASH and earned a significant amount of money, but he chose not to because he wanted to be a good father to his children.
After leaving MASH, Burghoff worked part-time in regional theatre productions so that he could spend more time with his family. Although his work in theatre productions was not as financially lucrative as his work on MASH, it gave him the flexibility to work for only a few weeks at a time and be with his family for the rest of the time.
Burghoff’s legacy as Radar in MAS*H endures to this day. His character was one of the most beloved in the show, and he received numerous awards and nominations for his work on the show, including an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.
Burghoff’s decision to retire from his role as Radar to focus on his family is a reminder that there are more important things in life than fame and fortune.
Despite the financial struggles, Burghoff never regretted his decision to leave MASH and prioritize his family. In an interview with the Archive of American Television, he said, “It was the right thing to do. I would have been unhappy had I missed that period of time with my children.”
Burghoff’s dedication to his family is evident in his life choices. He put his career on hold to raise his children and be present for them during their formative years. He also made sure to pass on his love of fishing to his son, Miles, and create memories that will last a lifetime.
His decision to walk away from a $4 million contract shows that his priorities were never swayed by money or fame. He chose to live a life that made him happy, and that included being a father first and foremost.
In today’s society, where money and success are often equated with happiness, Gary Burghoff’s story is a refreshing reminder that true happiness can be found in the simple joys of life, like spending time with loved ones.
The importance of family cannot be overstated, and it’s heartwarming to see Burghoff prioritize his family over his career. It’s a decision that he will never regret, and one that has likely brought him more joy and fulfillment than any amount of money or fame ever could.
In conclusion, Gary Burghoff’s decision to retire his role as Radar on MASH to focus on his family is a testament to his character and values. He chose to prioritize what truly matters in life – his relationships with his loved ones – and in doing so, he created a lifetime of memories and happiness. His story serves as an inspiration for others to prioritize what’s truly important in life and to not let money or fame distract from those values.