Gary Burghoff (Actor) M*A*S*H
Gary Burghoff 1
Updated: 5/11/21

Name: Gary Burghoff

Birth Name: Gary Rich Burghoff

Born: May 24, 1943 in Bristol, Connecticut, USA

Nickname: Radar

Claim To Fame: Gary Burghoff is an American actor best known for playing Corporal Walter Eugene "Radar" O'Reilly in both the film and the TV series of M*A*S*H.

Family Life: Burghoff was married to Janet Gayle, from 1971 to 1979. They had one child, born in 1975 before their divorce. In 1985, he married Elisabeth Bostrom. The couple had two children and divorced in 2005.

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Info: Born to Rodney Burghoff, who worked for a clock company, and Ann Burghoff, who had been a professional dancer and directed local theater productions.

He was born with a condition called Poland Syndrome, a rare birth defect, named after British surgeon Alfred Poland. His version of Poland Syndrome was more specifically Brachydactyly. His left hand has 3 fingers that are significantly smaller than those on his right hand. He took great pains to hide during the run of M*A*S*H, often by hiding it behind a clipboard.

Graduated from Delavan-Darien High School in Delavan, Wisconsin, Class of 1962.

He gained early experience acting with the Belfry Players of Williams Bay, Wisconsin.

He studied drama at HB Studio in Greenwich Village in New York City.

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.

Burghoff appeared regularly on TV, making appearances on such game shows as Match Game, Tattletales, Liar's Club, Hollywood Squares, and Showoffs.

In the 1980s, Burghoff was the TV spokesman for BP gasoline and IBM computers.

In 2000, Burghoff was a spokesman for dot-com era auction aggregation site

Burghoff is the inventor (U.S. Patent 5,117,577, U.S. Patent 5,235,774) of "Chum Magic", a fishing tackle invention that attracts fish toward the user's boat. Other Burghoff inventions include a toilet seat lifting handle (U.S. Patent D314,322) and a new type of fishing pole.

His character "Radar" on M*A*S*H, who showed a fondness for the care of animals, was actually inspired by Gary's true love for wildlife. He was licensed by the State of California to care for wounded animals and he once worked for the Animal Rehabilitation Clinic in Southern California.

Burghoff is a philatelist and was the star of a United States Postal Service video for beginning stamp collectors. In 1993, he was asked to help select a postal stamp for United States hunters.

Is a renowned, self-taught painter of Wildlife Art.

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Trivia: 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.

In 1967, Burghoff originated the role of Charlie Brown in the off-Broadway musical "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown".

In 1968. he was the drummer for a band called the Relatives; Actress Lynda Carter was the band's singer. The group opened and played for three months, at the Sahara Hotel and Casino lounge in Las Vegas, Nevada. He and Carter remained friends, and she helped cast him in an episode of her later hit series The New Adventures of Wonder Woman, in the 1978 episode "The Man Who Wouldn't Tell".

Although several actors from the original film, which include G. Wood, Timothy Brown and Corey Fischer, made guest appearances in the television series M*A*S*H, Burghoff was the only actor to continue as a regular, in the role of Radar O'Reilly.

Burghoff was nominated for six Emmy Awards for M*A*S*H in the category of Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series, and he won an Emmy in 1977. Burghoff's co-star Alan Alda accepted the award on his behalf.

Played Walter "Radar" O'Reilly in four different "MASH" productions: the feature movie MASH (1970), the television series M*A*S*H (1972), guest-star appearance on AfterMASH (1983), and the television pilot W*A*L*T*E*R (1984).

Was a regular on TV game show Match Game, standing in for Charles Nelson Reilly.

Sesame Street's Big Bird has a teddy bear, "Radar", which was named after Gary's M*A*S*H character.

The teddy bear that Burghoff carried as Radar O'Reilly in M*A*S*H is now at the Smithsonian Institution.

He left the M*A*S*H series after Season 7 following a series of contract disputes and 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".

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Where Are They Now: Burghoff has been happily retired for the entertainment industry for some time. His last project, which he actually came out of retirement for in 2010, was the film Daniel's Lot. These days he's relaxing, working on his garden, and painting.


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