May. 24th, 1940
Bristol, Connecticut, USA
5' 5 1/2
Gary Burghoff's Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles1970 - MASH
Guest TV Roles
Walter Eugene 'Radar' O'Reilly
Wilbur Wright (segment "Love and the Plane Fantasy")
American actor Gary Burghoff was the son of a Connecticut clockworks executive and a professional dancer. Under the aegis of his mother (the dancer), Burghoff studied tap dancing from age 5; he also trained himself to be a professional drummer, despite the fact that he'd been born with three deformed fingers on his left hand.
Turning to acting, Burghoff found that his high piping voice and his 5'6" frame consigned him to child and teenager roles - which became a blessing when he was cast in the title role of the off-broadway musical You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown in 1967.
Director Robert Altman cast Burghoff as Cpl. "Radar" O'Reilly in his antiwar comedy M*A*S*H (1970); the name Radar was derived from the character's uncanny ability to anticipate what people were going to say and to sense when the "choppers" were bringing incoming wounded into the "Mobile Army Surgical Hospital" of the film's acronym title. When M*A*S*H was converted into a TV situation comedy in 1972, Burghoff was the only member of the original movie cast to be signed for the series (It was not his first TV stint; he'd been a regular on 1970's Don Knotts Show).
The actor played company clerk Radar from 1972 through 1979, winning an Emmy in the process and endearing himself to millions of fans. Not all his co-stars found Burghoff as lovable as Radar; he could be somewhat bull-headed on the set, especially when he felt that others weren't working to their fullest capacity.
Except for occasional guest-star appearances - including an inevitable spot on Murder She Wrote, that settlement house of former sitcom stars - Burghoff hasn't worked much since M*A*S*H. This inactivity was by choice, in that Burghoff preferred to devote his time to his numerous pro-ecology and Animal Rights causes. In the late 1980s, Gary Burghoff was reunited with several of his M*A*S*H costars in a series of elaborately produced IBM television commercials.
- Starting in 1997, Gary had to refuse a lot of his fan-mail due to his address being published on the internet, as he would state in a stamped message on fan's return envelopes.
- Burghoff attended the memorial service for 'McLean Stevenson' (qv) when the actor passed away in 1996.
- He wrote an introduction for Two-Character Plays for Student Actors, a collection of plays by Robert Mauro.
- Was licensed by the State of California to care for wounded animals.
- He left M*A*S*H after Season 7 because of burnout and a desire to spend more time with his family, though he returned in Season 8 to film a special 2-part farewell episode, "Goodbye Radar".
- After graduation, he headed to New York to study. He sold underwear at Saks Fifth Avenue to make money while studying and also played jazz at local night spots with "The We Three," a musical trio he formed.
- Has one daughter: Gena and two sons: Miles and Jordan
- In 1961 his painting "Men of Jazz" won him the Hallmark Award and represented Wisconsin in the Hallmark Student Art Exhibit in Washington, D.C.
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