Gary Burghoff retired his role as Radar on M*A*S*H to be a daddy, a role he says is more important than money or fame


Gary Burghoff, known for his role as Radar on MAS*H, decided to leave acting in order to work on fixing his struggling family.

The 79-year-old actor, who has won an Emmy Award, recently became a grandfather after Miles “Sonar” Burghoff welcomed a baby girl.

In March 2023, Miles shared a photo of him and his new baby girl. The caption reads, “Caught the biggest 8-pound fish today!” Meet Rylee Elisabeth Burghoff.

Miles, an experienced fisherman, inherited his love for fishing from his father. “He’s the one who got me into it,” said the younger Burghoff during a fishing competition.

His dad replied, “I’m here to provide moral support. It shows how parents can enjoy doing what they love with their children.”

Miles may not have chosen the same profession as his father, but he still carries the famous Radar name. Miles explained, “Since my father played Radar on the TV show MAS*H, I was given the nickname Sonar.”

Burghoff’s children from his second marriage to Elizabeth Bolstrom, whom he married in 1985 and divorced in 2005, are Miles and Jordan. Bolstrom died in November 2019.

Burghoff has a daughter named Gena Gayle Burghoff with his first wife, Janet Gayle, whom he divorced in 1979. He didn’t take many things with him when he left MAS*H.

Burghoff mentioned in an interview that he didn’t become rich from MAS*H. He could have asked for more money, but he prioritized being a father over wealth and fame.

Burghoff chose regional theater instead of accepting numerous offers for roles in 1980s sitcoms, such as one on Newhart. He explained, “I desired to have control over the number of weeks I would work and dedicate the remaining time to my family.”

His time in theater quickly faded away and couldn’t compare to his standout role on MAS*H. Burghoff portrayed Cpl. Walter ‘Radar’ O’Reilly, a naive farm boy working as the company clerk (and sometimes bugler) at the U.S. Army’s Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) during the Korean War (1950–1953), for seven seasons from 1972 to 1983.

In the 1970 film, Donald Sutherland, Robert Duvall, and Sally Kellerman also appeared alongside Burghoff. Major Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan, played by Loretta Swit in the TV adaptation, received an Oscar nomination for her performance. Burghoff was the only actor to portray the character in both the TV series and the movie.

Burghoff apparently struggled with his demanding schedule, which had a negative impact on his family life. As a result, his character’s screen time decreased from 24 to 13 episodes, compared to his previous appearances in every episode. In season seven, Radar bid farewell in a two-part episode titled “Good-Bye Radar,” which explained his departure from the army. This marked Radar’s final season.

Burghoff faced challenges with his wife during the filming of MAS*H, as mentioned by director Charles S. Dubin in an interview. Dubin shared that during the Goodbye Radar episodes, Burghoff became emotional and had to take a break. He explained, “In the script, he was discussing a potential future with her, which may have resonated with his personal issues.”

Alan Alda, known for his role as Capt. Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce, Loretta Swit as “Hot Lips” Houlihan, and Jamie Farr as Sgt. Maxwell Q. Klinger, took charge of the barracks in the last three seasons of MAS*H.

Besides WALTE*R, there was another spin-off that focused on Radar’s life after MASH, but it didn’t get picked up. Burghoff reprised his role as Radar for two episodes in the spin-off series AfterMash.

In an attempt to entice Burghoff to return, producers presented him with a $US4 million agreement, but he turned it down. By 1991, the funds had depleted, and Burghoff was on the verge of bankruptcy. In an interview, he revealed, “I only had $500 left.”

Burghoff, a versatile artist, decided to shift gears. He began painting oil portraits of North American animals on canvas, which were then sold for $25,000 each in art galleries.

Today, if you’re fortunate, you may come across a valuable item up for auction.

Burghoff donated to a GoFundMe campaign for people affected by the California fires four years ago. In a video released by his son Jordan, he looks older, but fans still appreciate his acting and generosity.

Version 1: Someone exclaimed, “Wow, I remember him from when I was a kid watching MASH. He still sounds and looks the same.” Another person added, “It’s great to see you, Mr. Burghoff. I’m donating not only because there’s a need, but also because I feel indebted to you. When I was a child, I watched MASH and admired your work. Now, my wife and I are reliving those memories on Netflix. You made us laugh, feel, and reflect, and we’re grateful for that. Thank you for sharing this, Jordan.”

Gary Burghoff’s presence is truly a blessing. We would love to hear your memories of MAS*H and your thoughts on his decision to leave his role as Radar in order to work on his marriage.

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