Gary Burghoff is a popular retired American actor best known for his role as Radar O’Reilly on CBS’ sitcom “MASH.” He left his work on TV to spend more quality time with his family.
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Early life and family
Gary Rich Burghoff was born on May 24, 1943 in Bristol, Connecticut, USA, so is of American nationality and his zodiac sign is Gemini. Gary was born the son of Rodney and Ann Burghoff; his father worked for the local clock company, while his mother was in the theater as a professional dancer; she has also directed several local theater productions. Gary has an older brother, David Burghoff.
From an early age, Gary was interested in nature, especially animals. When he was eight years old, his parents gave him an angelfish which he cared for very responsibly.
Happy Birthday Gary Burghoff! Burghoff (who turns 73 today) is best known for his role as Walter “Radar” O’Reilly on the TV series M*A*S*H.
When he was about 10 years old, he felt sorry for a flock of ducks who, he thought, were too bored to live on his neighbor’s farm, so he freed them to the nearby lake. At age 14, Gary got his first job at a local pet store. Later, his father got a new job in Delavan, Wisconsin, so the whole family moved there when Gary was in high school.
Gary attended the local high school in Bristol, Connecticut, until he moved to Delavan, Wisconsin, where he graduated from his local high school in 1961. At school he took dance lessons, because he was very fond of tap dance. He also became a drummer, even though he had a birth defect of three shorter fingers on the left hand. When his mother found a new job as a choreographer in Wisconsin, he got the chance to try himself as an actor at the Belfry Theater, landing the part of Bobby in the production “The Boy Friend”.
Later Gary studied at HB Studio, located in New York City.
In addition to his musical endeavors (Gary played drums in Milwaukee clubs, performed with the Bud Wilber Orchestra), he was also very good at painting. His work “Men of Jazz” earned him the Hallmark Award in 1961; he also exhibited this work in the Hallmark Student Art Exhibition, held in Washington DC, which represents his state of Wisconsin.
Acting career: first steps
While studying acting, Gary had to work as a sales assistant in the underwear store on Saks Fifth Avenue, as he needed to earn money for his courses and just to make a living. His actors in the studio were James Tuttle, Sandy Meisner and Charles Nelson Reilly. He also formed a jazz trio – “The We Three” – and played in local night bars and clubs.
In 1967, Gary landed the role of Charlie Brown in the original off-Broadway production “You’re a Good Man,” which was his first serious work on stage. Still unwilling to quit his music career, he also played drums in the band Relatives in 1968, performing mostly late at night at the Sahara Hotel and Casino Lounge, located in Las Vegas. The singer of the band was Lynda Carter, who also became a famous actress. Gary and Lynda later worked together in the cast of the hit series “The New Adventures of Wonder Woman”, appearing in the 1978 episode “The Man Who Wouldn’t Tell”.
Further Success, Joining the Cast of “MASH”
In 1970, Robert Altman invited Gary to star in his movie “MASH,” a black comedy about a group of medics who worked at the Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) during the Korean War.
Gary would play the character of Chief Clerk Corporal Walter Eugene “Radar” O’Reilly.
After the film received high praise and positive reviews from critics, the creator decided to develop the plot, which was based on Richard Hooker’s book “M*A*S*H: A Novel About Three Army Doctors”, and released the television series. . Gary was the only person to appear in both the movie and the series and play the same character. However, Gary later admitted that he made his character think and behave very differently in the series than in the film: ‘In the original feature film MASH, I created Radar as a lonely, darker and slightly sardonic character; some kind of shadowy figure <,,,> I started to transform Radar into a more innocent, naive character in contrast to the other characters,” Gary reflects on his role.
Gary’s work on the series “M*A*S*H” (1972-1980) received six Emmy Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series. During his constant bustle in “M*A*S*H”, Gary still had the opportunity to work in other series in films, including “Insight”, “Sweepstakes” and “Ellery Queen”.
In late 1979, Gary left the cast of “M*A*S*H”, having had enough of the public’s attention, complaining that he had nowhere to go out with his family to relax as he would have been instantly recognized by anyone. : ‘Family, for me, became the most important… I was not available as a father because of my work. That doesn’t stop when the work stops,” Gary explained that he was leaving the show. He later appeared again in the special episode titled “Goodbye, Radar”.
In 1984, Gary appeared in two spin-offs of the series, “W*A*L*T*E*R” and “AfterMASH”. He was also featured in an episode of the series “Burke’s Law” in 1995, and in the movie “Behind the Waterfall” in the same year. In 2010, ostensibly retired, Gary appeared in the movie “Daniel’s Lot” and landed the role of Pastor Mahoney.
Pension and inventions
Gary’s life in retirement was not boring at all; he could finally spend as much time fishing as he wanted. He even became the inventor of a special fishing gear “Chum Magic”, which was supposed to lure the fish to the fishing boat. He also invented and patented a new type of fishing rod and a toilet seat lifting handle.
Gary was also able to spend his free time painting the wilds of California.
In 2018, Gary was invited by his fellow actress Alan Alda to participate in the podcast “Clear + Vivid”, which reunited him with all the remaining cast members of “M*A*S*H”: ‘Loretta Swit and I will be talk from New York, Mike Farrell will be in a studio in LA, Jamie Farr will be on the phone from his home in Bell Canyon and Gary Burghoff will be on the phone from Northern California Alda announced the podcast. He shared that the podcast should have happened a little earlier, but Jamie Farr nearly lost his home in the wildfires that blanketed California at the time, so they had to postpone the reunion.
Personal life, ex-wives Janet Gale and Elisabeth Bostrom
Gary Burghoff married Janet Gale in 1971. In 1975, Janet gave birth to their daughter Gena, who then became an actress and even starred with her father in the movie “Behind The Waterfall”.
Gary divorced Janet in 1979, and in 1985 he married Elisabeth Bostrom, who bore Gary two sons, Miles and Jordan. In two decades, the couple divorced in 2005, citing different religious beliefs ruining their union. Elisabeth, an experienced dental assistant, still lives in Connecticut with their two sons.
Hobbies, favorite things and interesting facts
In 2009, Gary released the book “To M*A*S*H and Back: My Life in Poems and Songs”.
Gary is a philatelist; he collects coins and stamps, and in 1988 was invited to be the narrator of the movie “The Video Guide to Stamp Collecting”, which was supposed to teach novice collectors the principles of stamp collecting, also showing different types of stamps from different periods. In 1994 he judged the Federal Duck Stamp Competition.
Gary’s other passion, painting, saved his family’s life during the hard times when Gary didn’t appear in movies or series. He started selling his paintings and the money he earned helped him and his family survive. When Gary lived in California, his neighbors called him “The Birdman of Malibu” because his yard was always full of all kinds of birds. Gary’s favorite sport is baseball.
Gary has short gray hair and blue eyes. He is 1.66 m tall; his weight and vital statistics are not available.
Wealth and salary
As of 2020, Gary Burghoff’s net worth is estimated at approximately $6 million.