Gary Burghoff
Burghoff at a convention in 2003
Gary Rich Burghoff[1]

(1943-05-24) May 24, 1943 (age 80)[2]
EducationDelavan High School, Delavan, Wisconsin
Years active1967–1995, 2010
Janet Gayle
(m. 1971; div. 1979)
Elisabeth Bostrom
(m. 1985; div. 2005)

Gary Rich Burghoff (born May 24, 1943) is an American actor who is known for originating the role of Charlie Brown in the 1967 Off-Broadway musical You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, and the character Corporal Walter Eugene "Radar" O'Reilly in the film M*A*S*H, as well as the TV series. He was a regular on television game show Match Game from 1974 to 1979 for 204 episodes, standing in for Charles Nelson Reilly, who was in New York doing a Broadway play, and continued to make recurring appearances afterwards.

Early life

Burghoff was born in Bristol, Connecticut, moved to Clinton, Connecticut, and then later moved to Delavan, Wisconsin.[4]

He studied tap dance and became a drummer, despite being born with brachydactyly caused by Poland syndrome, which made three fingers on his left hand significantly smaller than those on his right hand. He gained early experience acting with the Belfry Players of Williams Bay, Wisconsin.[5] He received his acting training at HB Studio[6] in New York City.


In 1967, Burghoff portrayed Charlie Brown in the original Off-Broadway production of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown.

He was the drummer for a band called The Relatives in 1968. Lynda Carter, later a well-known actress, was the band's singer. The group opened at the Sahara Hotel and Casino lounge in Las Vegas, Nevada, and played there for three months. He and Carter remained friends, and much later they appeared together in an episode of her hit series The New Adventures of Wonder Woman in the 1978 episode "The Man Who Wouldn't Tell".


(L to R) Larry Linville, Loretta Swit, Wayne Rogers, Alan Alda, Gary Burghoff, and McLean Stevenson

Burghoff made his feature film debut in Robert Altman's M*A*S*H (1970). Although several actors from the original film 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. Although he played the same character in the series as in the film, Burghoff has cited differences in the portrayal:

In the original feature film M*A*S*H, I created Radar as a lone, darker and somewhat sardonic character; kind of a shadowy figure. I continued these qualities for a short time until I realized that the TV M*A*S*H characters were developing in a different direction from the film characters. It became a group of sophisticated, highly educated doctors (and one head nurse) who would rather be anywhere else and who understood the nature of the "hellhole" they were stuck in. With [Larry] Gelbart's help, I began to mold Radar into a more innocent, naïve character as contrast to the other characters, so that while the others might deplore the immorality and shame of war (from an intellectual and judgmental viewpoint), Radar could just REACT from a position of total innocence.[7]

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

Burghoff left M*A*S*H in 1979 after the seventh season because of burnout and a desire to spend more time with his family, though he returned the following season to film a special two-part farewell episode, "Goodbye Radar". He explained, "Family, to me, became the most important thing. I was not available as a father because of my work. That doesn't stop when the work stops. Whenever you go out as a family, you're always torn from family to deal with public recognition."[8] "Goodbye Radar" was supposed to be the final episode of season 7, but at the behest of CBS, it was extended into a double-episode for the November sweeps the next season. Fellow cast member Mike Farrell tried to persuade Burghoff to stay on the show, citing the lackluster careers of former M*A*S*H regulars Larry Linville and McLean Stevenson after their departures.

Farrell later said, "Gary Burghoff may well have been the best actor in the company, it's always seemed to me. His focus, his ability to find those little gems of behavior that made everything absolutely true were a marvel to behold."[9]

Later career

Burghoff appeared regularly on TV, making appearances on such game shows as Match Game, Tattletales, Liar's Club, Hollywood Squares, and Showoffs. He also appeared in the film B.S. I Love You, as well as one episode each of The Love Boat and Ellery Queen. His M*A*S*H character, Radar O'Reilly, appeared on two episodes in the first season of AfterMASH. It was then spun off into W*A*L*T*E*R, which aired only once in the Eastern and Central time zones.

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[10]

Burghoff is a self-taught amateur wildlife painter who also qualified to handle injured wildlife in California.[11]

He worked as a professional jazz drummer, heading the trio The We Three. In the M*A*S*H episode "Showtime", Radar is seen playing a solo on the drums; he was actually performing, and the music was not overdubbed.[12] He can also be seen playing drums in the M*A*S*H episode "Bulletin Board" in the picnic scene and the episode "Dear Dad...Again" in the no-talent show scene.[13]

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.[14][15] Other Burghoff inventions include a toilet seat lifting handle (U.S. patent D314322) and a new type of fishing pole.[16]

Burghoff is a philatelist.[17] He was asked in 1993 to help select a postal stamp for United States hunters.[11]

Burghoff came out of retirement in 2010 to star in the film Daniel's Lot.[18]

Personal life

Burghoff was married to Janet Gayle from 1971 to 1979. They have one daughter.

In 1985, he married Elisabeth Bostrom. The couple have two sons; they divorced in 2005.




Year Title Role Notes
1970 M*A*S*H Cpl. Walter "Radar" O'Reilly
1971 B.S. I Love You Ted Bufman
1975 Twigs Clergyman TV movie
1979 The Man in the Santa Claus Suit Bob Willis TV movie
1980 Casino Bill Taylor TV movie
1991 Doubles Arnie
1992 Small Kill Fleck / Lady Esmerelda Also director
1995 Behind the Waterfall Mr. Connors
2010 Daniel's Lot Pastor Mahoney


Year Title Role Notes
1967 NET Playhouse Boy Episode: "An Evening Journey to Conway Massachusetts"
1969 The Good Guys Mike Butterworth Episode: "Take a Computer to Lunch"
1970 The Name of the Game Watson Episode: "Man of the People"
1972–79 M*A*S*H Cpl. Walter "Radar" O'Reilly 174 episodes (seasons 1-8)
1973 Love, American Style Sydney Melvin Wimple / Wilbur Wright Episodes: "Love and the Crisis Line", "Love and the Plane Fantasy"
1974–75 Insight Milo / Mombo Episodes: "Five Without Faces", "The Incredible Man"
1974–81 Match Game Gary Burghoff Episodes: 330-470 (140 episodes, 1974-75). Recurring appearances afterwards from 1975 to 1981
1976 Ellery Queen Gerald Hacker Episode: "The Adventure of the Disappearing Dagger"
1977 The Love Boat Donald M. Flanders Episode: "The Captain's Captain/Romance Roulette/Hounded (A Dog's Life)"
1978 America 2-Night Himself Episode: "Help Every Little Person"
1978 Fantasy Island Richard C. Delaney Episode: "Superstar/Salem"
1978 The New Adventures of Wonder Woman Alan Episode: "The Man Who Wouldn't Tell"
1979 $weepstake$ Roscoe Fuller Episode: "Roscoe, Elizabeth, and the M.C."
1980 Fantasy Island Gordon Hughes Episode: "The Love Doctor/Pleasure Palace/Possessed"
1981 The Love Boat Eddie Martin Episode: "Maid for Each Other/Lost and Found/Then There Were Two"
1981 Tales of the Unexpected Harry Flock Episode: "The Best Policy"
1984 AfterMASH Walter "Radar" O'Reilly Episodes: "Yours Truly, Max Klinger", "It Had to Be You"
1984 W*A*L*T*E*R Walter "Radar" O'Reilly Episode: "Pilot"
1984 Carnival of the Animals himself/host TV special featuring music of Camille Saint-Saëns
1995 Burke's Law Patrick Noyes Episode: "Who Killed the Hollywood Headshrinker?"


  1. ^ "Gary Burghoff". TMZ. Retrieved 2013-01-07.
  2. ^ Hal Erickson (2010). "Movies & TV: Gary Burghoff". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2013-01-30. Retrieved 2013-01-01.
  3. ^ "Gary Burghoff Biography (1943-)". Film Reference.
  4. ^ retrieved 2018-11-02.
  5. ^ The Belfry Players... Twenty-Ninth Season of Plays (Theatre program), 1962
  6. ^ "HB Studio - Notable Alumni - One of the Original Acting Studios in NYC".
  7. ^ Levine, Ken (2012-05-30). "Gary Burghoff explains Radar". By Ken Levine. Archived from the original on 15 April 2014.
  8. ^ "Fighting for family, life after M*A*S*H". Assist News Service. 1989-08-25. Archived from the original on 2014-02-24.
  9. ^ Farrell, Mike. "Mike Farrell Online". Archived from the original on 2006-01-25.
  10. ^ "Home Page". Archived from the original on 2000-04-07. Retrieved 2013-01-01.
  11. ^ a b Moore, AS (2004-08-29). "A Second Act, Paintbrush in Hand, for Gary Burghoff". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-01-01.
  12. ^ "M*A*S*H: Showtime". 2007-12-12. Archived from the original on 2009-05-22. Retrieved 2011-05-17.
  13. ^ "Episode Spotlight: Bulletin Board". 2017-05-01. Retrieved 2020-02-08.
  14. ^ Ryan, Tim. "The reality of "Radar"". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Archived from the original on 2004-12-25. Retrieved 2008-03-26.
  15. ^ US patent 5235774, Gary Burghoff, "Enhanced fish attractor device", issued August 17, 1993 
  16. ^ Harrington, Amy and Nancy (16 September 2012). "MASH: Where are they now?". Yahoo. Archived from the original on December 23, 2015. Retrieved 31 December 2015.
  17. ^ Csatari, Jeff (May 1989). "Stamps & Coins". Boys' Life. p. 63 – via Google Books.
  18. ^ Daniel's Lot at IMDb Edit this at Wikidata