WHY RADAR WENT AWOL FROM M*A*S*H
RADAR O’REILLY portrayer Gary Burghoff is living in a trailer park! But don’t feel sorry for the Emmy-winning M*A*S*H star– he does it by choice.
Burghoff, now 69, is an avid angler who spends his winters at Nature Coast Landings, an RV park in Crystal River, Fla., near the Gulf of Mexico. There, he fishes, rides his motorized scooter and takes his dog for long walks through nature paths.
“I’ve been fishing since I was 3 years old, and I love it,” he says.
Burghoff, who also owns a home in Connecticut, happily hits the road in his RV to seek the big one all over the country. In fact, since his days on TV, Burghoff has fished in every state except Alaska and has even invented several angling products. The most successful is the “Chum Magic,” a basket device that holds bits of fish food and hangs in the water to attract sea creatures.
“IT’S NOT A GLAMOROUS product, but it’s very effective,” notes Burghoff, who also markets powdered beef blood he gets from slaughterhouses as a fish-attracting ingredient to use in his “Chum Magic.”
Burghoff shot to fame when he became the only primary actor to make the leap from the 1970 big-screen version of “M*A*S*H” to the hit sitcom, which premiered in 1972. Then he baffled critics in 1979 when he went AWOL from the show at the height of its popularity. The series followed the madcap adventures of a hospital field unit during the Korean War.
Burghoff played naive but lovable corporal Walter “Radar” O’Reilly, the company clerk who slept with a teddy bear but always knew how to get things done.
Burghoff left the show as his first marriage to wife Janet crumbled and devastating depression set in.
He said the blues were so bad it caused him headaches, fatigue and back pain so severe his body “was twisted like a pretzel.”
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