McLean Stevenson Learned His M*A*S*H Character Was Beloved The Hard Way

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Written By Sedoso Feb

Stevenson passed away in 1996 (one day prior to the death of Roger Bowen, who played Henry Blake in Robert Altman’s 1970 film), but via archival video footage spliced into Fox’s special “M*A*S*H: The Comedy That Changed Television,” we know that the actor rued his decision to leave the hit sitcom for the rest of his life.

He wasn’t the only person who regretted his departure. Viewers and CBS network executives were none too pleased with his exit. According to the Fox special, however, his colleagues were more forgiving. Producer/showrunner Burt Metcalfe could tell the actor wanted out. “McLean Stevenson was wonderful as Colonel Blake,” he said. “But he began getting restless and expressing the desire that maybe he wanted to move on.”

Writer Gene Reynolds saw the writing on the wall as well. In an interview on the Fox documentary, Reynolds said:

“People were whispering in his ear, ‘You can have your own show,’ but they didn’t say, ‘You won’t have Larry Gelbart. You won’t have the cast, you won’t have Radar, you won’t have all these people around you. You won’t have the same situation.'”

This turned out to be a deadly sin of omission.

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