Mike Farrell
Farrell in 2016
Michael Joseph Farrell Jr.

(1939-02-06) February 6, 1939 (age 85)
  • Actor
  • director
  • producer
  • screenwriter
  • activist
  • public speaker
Years active1963–present
(m. 1963; div. 1983)
(m. 1984)
Military career
AllegianceUnited States
Service/branchUnited States Marine Corps
Years of service1957–1959
RankPrivate First Class
Unit3rd Marine Division

Michael Joseph Farrell Jr. (born February 6, 1939) is an American actor, best known for his role as Captain B.J. Hunnicutt on the television series M*A*S*H (1975–83). In addition, Farrell was a producer of Patch Adams (1998) starring Robin Williams, and he starred in the television series Providence (1999–2002).

Farrell is also an activist and public speaker for various political causes. He has been the President of Death Penalty Focus since 1994.[1] He is a long-time opponent of the death penalty.[2] In 2001, Farrell said of the work: “I’ve wept many times. But I keep finding people who inspire me--some of them on death row, and more of them in the trenches, in the courts, in religious circles, fighting against the death penalty.”[2] Farrell has helped raise defense funds for inmates he believes are innocent.[1]

Early life

Farrell, one of four children, was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, the son of Agnes Sarah Cosgrove and Michael Joseph Farrell.[3]

When he was two years old, his family moved from South St. Paul to Hollywood, California, where his father worked as a carpenter on film sets. Farrell attended West Hollywood Grammar School in the same class as fellow actor Natalie Wood, and graduated from Hollywood High School. He served in the United States Marine Corps from 1957 to 1959. After being discharged, he worked at various jobs before becoming an actor.[4]

Acting career

Early career

Mike with wife Judy at Knott's Berry Farm in 1966

During the 1960s, Farrell guest-starred in a few series. Notable roles included playing a young US Forest Service ranger in the Lassie episode "Never Look Back" (February 1967); Federal Agent Modell in the episode "Monkee Chow Mein" on The Monkees in 1967; as a bellhop (uncredited) in The Graduate in 1967; astronaut Arland in the episode "Genie, Genie, Who's Got the Genie?" on I Dream of Jeannie; an Army doctor in the episode "The Bankroll" of Combat!; and an ex-high school friend turned famous actor of Chet Kincaid in The Bill Cosby Show.

In 1968, he originated the continuing role of Scott Banning in the NBC soap opera Days of Our Lives. In 1970, he starred as one of the young doctors in the CBS prime-time series The Interns, in a cast led by Broderick Crawford. In 1971, he played the assistant to Anthony Quinn in ABC's The Man and the City. In 1973, while under contract to Universal Studios, Farrell starred with Robert Foxworth in The Questor Tapes. During the years under contract, he guest-starred in a number of shows, including Banacek; Mannix; Marcus Welby, M.D.; The Six Million Dollar Man; and The New Land; and starred in a television pilot with Jane Wyman, which did not sell.

In the early 1970s, Farrell guest-starred in the television Western drama Bonanza[5][6] and did a number of commercials as a spokesman for Maytag dryers and Plymouth automobiles, among other products.[citation needed]

On the game show Stumpers!, 1976

M*A*S*H (1975–83) and later roles

Farrell's big break came in 1975 when Wayne Rogers departed M*A*S*H at the end of the third season. Farrell was recruited for the newly created role of B.J. Hunnicutt, along with series lead Harry Morgan, who replaced McLean Stevenson, also at the end of the third season. Morgan had appeared as General Bartford Hamilton Steele in the season-three episode "The General Flipped at Dawn" (for which he won an Emmy Award for Best Guest Role in a Primetime Comedy Series). Farrell stayed with the series for its remaining eight years on the air. During that time, he wrote five episodes and directed four.

Since M*A*S*H, Farrell has guest-starred in Murder, She Wrote; Justice League; Desperate Housewives; and many others. Farrell voiced Jonathan Kent in Superman: The Animated Series (1996) with wife Shelley Fabares voicing Martha Kent.[7]

Farrell hosted several National Geographic Presents specials and starred in a number of television films, including 1983's Memorial Day, which he co-produced.[8] He did two one-man shows: JFK, a One Man Show for PBS and, on stage, a national tour of David W. Rintels' play Clarence Darrow.

In 1985, Farrell partnered with film and television producer Marvin Minoff to create Farrell/Minoff Productions, a production company.[9] Together, Farrell and Minoff produced numerous television films.[10] In 1986, the company had signed a deal with The Walt Disney Studios wherein the Farrell/Minoff company would develop motion pictures and television properties.[11]

Farrell and Minoff executive-produced Dominick and Eugene, a 1988 Orion Pictures film that earned actor Tom Hulce a Golden Globe nomination for best actor.[9] The pair also produced 1998's Patch Adams, starring Robin Williams.[10] Farrell and Minoff's partnership lasted more than 25 years until Minoff's death in November 2009.[9][10]

Providence (1999–2002)

In 1999, Farrell was given the part of veterinarian Jim Hansen, the father of the lead character Dr. Sydney Hansen, portrayed by Melina Kanakaredes, on the NBC-TV melodrama series Providence. In his portrayal of Sydney's father, Farrell played opposite Concetta Tomei, who portrayed his wife, Lynda Hansen. Tomei's character died during the first episode of the series but continued to appear as a ghost/memory in vignettes of later episodes. Farrell appeared in 64 of the 96 episodes.

He appeared as Milton Lang, the father of Victor Lang (John Slattery), husband of Gabrielle Solis (Eva Longoria) on Desperate Housewives (2007–08).

He was seen in the season 10 episode "Persona" of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. He appeared as the character Fred Jones in the season 8 episode "Hunteri Heroici" of Supernatural. In 2014 he was a supporting cast member on the Sundance TV Network criminal drama series The Red Road. He portrayed Lee Miglin, a real estate baron who fell victim to serial killer Andrew Cunanan, in FX's anthology series American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace. Most recently, he appeared in NCIS, playing the role of Judge Miles Deakin in the episode "Judge, Jury..." and "...and Executioner."


Farrell meets with Senator Debbie Stabenow in 2002.
Farrell has worked on many activist campaigns.

Even before he was well-known, Farrell was an activist for many political and social causes. He was co-chair of the California Human Rights Watch for ten years, was on the Board of Advisors of the original Cult Awareness Network, and has been president of Death Penalty Focus for more than 10 years,[12] being the first person to be awarded its Human Rights Award, subsequently named after him in 2006. He received PETA's Humanitarian Award in 2001 and narrated a public service campaign for them about animal abuse.[13]

In 1985, Farrell was in Central America, helping refugees from the civil war in El Salvador. A guerrilla commander, Nidia Diaz, had been taken prisoner. She needed surgery, but no Salvadoran doctor would help her, so Medical Aid for El Salvador recruited a foreign doctor. Farrell was present as an observer for Amnesty International but was, in his words, "shanghaied into assisting with the surgery" when the doctor said his help was needed.[14] The in-prison surgery was successful, and Diaz went on to be one of the signatories of the Chapultepec Peace Accords, the peace treaty ending the war.

Farrell has been active in the Screen Actors Guild. In 2002 he was elected first vice president of the Guild in Los Angeles and served in the post for three years.[15]

In 2006, Farrell appeared with Jello Biafra and Keith Gordon in the documentary Whose War?, examining the U.S. role in the Iraq War. He also served on the advisory board of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.[16]

In 2014, Farrell workshopped a play by George Shea that brought Charles David Keeling and his scientific work on atmospheric CO2 emissions to life.[17]

In 2016, after the US presidential election of Donald Trump, Farrell appeared in a commercial to urge Republican electors to block Trump from becoming president by having 37 electors change their vote in the Electoral College from Trump to John Kasich.[18]


Farrell wrote an autobiography, Just Call Me Mike: A Journey to Actor and Activist (Akashic Books, ISBN 1-9333-5408-9), published in 2007. The book covers his working-class childhood in West Hollywood, his break into show business, his personal life, and his increasing involvement in politics and the human rights movement in the United States, Cambodia, and Latin America. His second book, Of Mule and Man (2009, Akashic Books, ISBN 1-9333-5475-5), is a journal of his five-week, 9,000-mile drive around the U.S. to promote the paperback edition of his first book.

Personal life

In 1963, Farrell married actress Judy Hayden, who was working as a high school English and drama teacher in Laguna Beach, California.[19] They separated in 1980 and divorced in 1983. They have two children, Michael and Erin. On M*A*S*H, Hunnicutt's daughter also was named Erin. Also on M*A*S*H, in the episode "The Colonel's Horse" (season 5, episode 12), a phone call is placed to Hunnicutt's father-in-law, Floyd Hayden, Hayden being the maiden name of Judy, Farrell's wife. He lives in Quapaw, Oklahoma, Judy's birthplace. Judy Farrell also acted on M*A*S*H from 1976 to 1983 as Nurse Able.

Since 1984, he has been married to actress Shelley Fabares.[20]

At the start of M*A*S*H's seventh season, Farrell grew a Walrus moustache for the B.J. Hunnicutt character, even though such a moustache below the upper lip was then, as now, a clear violation of Army uniform guidelines, especially when left untrimmed. The normally clean-shaven Farrell grew it out for the character, as fashion trends at the time made the moustache in general popular for the first time since the beginning of the 20th century, due in part due to fellow actors such as Burt Reynolds and Tom Selleck, as well as The Mustache Gang of the Oakland Athletics of Major League Baseball. While Farrell retained the moustache for the B.J. character for the rest of the series and saw a rise in acting jobs because of it, Farrell himself quickly grew tired of it and did not want to be typecast with "B.J.-like roles" for the rest of his career.

Selected filmography

This list is incomplete; you can help by adding missing items. (January 2023)


Year Title Role Notes
1963 Captain Newman, M.D. Patient Uncredited
1967 Countdown Houston Engineer Uncredited
1967 The Graduate Bellhop in Hotel Lobby Uncredited
1968 Panic in the City Dick Blaine Credited as Michael Farrell
1968 Targets Man in Phonebooth
1968 Dayton's Devils Voucher Captain
1969 Worthy to Stand Fred Washburn Short film
1976 Doomsday Machine 1st Reporter
1981 El Salvador: Another Vietnam Narrator
1983 Citizen: The Political Life of Allard K. Lowenstein Executive producer
1988 Dominick and Eugene Producer
1990 Lockdown Prentis
1995 The Killers Within Congressman Clayton
1996 Hanged on a Twisted Cross Dietrich Bonhoeffer
1998 Patch Adams Producer
2006 Superman: Brainiac Attacks Jonathan Kent Voice, direct-to-video
2007 Out at the Wedding Father of the Bride


Year Title Role Notes
1963 The Dick Powell Theatre Young Couple Boy Credited as Michael Farrell
1963 McHale's Navy The Gunner Episode: "Washing Machine Charlie"
1963 Ensign O'Toole Ferguson Episode: "Operation: Physical"
1966 Combat! Doctor Episode: "The Bankroll"
1967 The Monkees Agent Modell S1:E26, "Monkee Chow Mein"
1967 Iron Horse Debuy Episode: "The Return of Hode Avery"; uncredited
1967 Custer First Trooper Episode: "Desperate Mission"
1967 Garrison's Gorillas The Captain Episode: "Black Market"
1967–1969 Lassie Ranger / Joe 3 episodes
1967–1974 Ironside Len Parsons / Bellhop 2 episodes
1968 I Dream of Jeannie Astronaut Arland Episode: "Genie, Genie, Who's Got the Genie: Part 3"
1968 Daniel Boone Johnson Episode: "The Spanish Fort"
1968 Judd for the Defense Police Lieutenant / Employment Clerk 2 episodes
1968 This Is the Life unknown role Episode: "Happiness is Dirty Hands"
1968–1970 Days of Our Lives Scott Banning Series regular (157 episodes)
1969 The Name of the Game Reporter Episode: "The Inquiry"; uncredited
1969 The Bill Cosby Show Al Socconis Episode: "A Word from Our Sponsor"
1970 Mannix Clay Riegles Episode: "Blind Mirror"
1970–1971 The Interns Dr. Sam Marsh Series regular (24 episodes)
1971 Sarge Steve Wainwright Episode: "A Terminal Case of Vengeance"
1971–1972 The Man and the City Andy Hays Series regular (15 episodes)
1971–1973 Love, American Style The Young Man / Jack 2 episodes
1972 The Bold Ones: The New Doctors Dr. Vic Wheelwright Episode: "Discovery at Fourteen"
1972 The Sixth Sense Dr. Gil Clarke Episode: "Witch, Witch, Burning Bright"
1972 The Longest Night Willis Television film
1972 Jigsaw unknown role Episode: "The Men"
1972 Cannon Ron Cota Episode: "Stakeout"
1972 Bonanza Dr. James Willis Episode: "The Hidden Enemy"
1972 Circle of Fear Frank Simmons Episode: "Elegy for a Vampire"
1972 Banacek Jason Trotter Episode: "The Greatest Collection of Them All"
1972 The Rookies Frank Essex Episode: "The Wheel of Death"
1972 The Wide World of Mystery Steven Episode: "Nightmare Step"
1972–1973 Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law Brad Newman / Blair Cameron 2 episodes
1972–1974 Marcus Welby, M.D. Frank Ferra / Clifford Lorimer 2 episodes
1973 She Cried Murder Walter Stepanic Television film
1974 The Questor Tapes Jerry Robinson Television film
1974 Live Again, Die Again James Carmichael Television film
1974 The New Land unknown role Episode: "The World Is: Persistence"
1974 The Six Million Dollar Man David Tate Episode: "The Pioneers"
1974 Harry O Cole Harris Episode: "Material Witness"
1975 Ladies of the Corridor Paul Osgood Television film
1975–1980 Dinah! Himself (Guest) 5 episodes
1976–1977 The Hollywood Squares Himself (Panelist) 3 episodes
1976–1979 The $25,000 Pyramid Himself (Celebrity Contestant) 5 episodes
1977–1977 Tattletales Himself (Panelist) 6 episodes
1975–1983 M*A*S*H* Captain B.J. Hunnicutt Series regular (179 episodes)
Writer (4 episodes)
Story by (1 episode)
Teleplay by (1 episode)
Written by (2 episodes)
1976 McNaughton's Daughter Colin Pierce Miniseries
1976–1984 The $10,000 Pyramid Himself (Celebrity Contestant) 49 episodes
1978 Battered Michael Hawks Television film
1979 Sex and the Single Parent George Television film
1979 Letters from Frank Richard Miller Television film
1979 Ebony, Ivory and Jade Television film; writer
1979–1980 The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson Himself (Guest) 2 episodes
1980 Father Damien: The Leper Priest Robertson Television film
1982 Prime Suspect Frank Staplin Television film
1982 The Merv Griffin Show Himself (Guest) Episode: "01.22.1982"
1982 The Regis Philbin Show Himself (Guest) Episode: "#1.81"
1983 Memorial Day Matt Walker Television film; also executive producer
1983 Choices of the Heart Ambassador Robert E. White Television film
1984 J.F.K.: A One-Man Show John Fitzgerald Kennedy Television film
1984 The $25,000 Pyramid Himself (Celebrity Contestant) 5 episodes
1985 Private Sessions Dr. Joe Braden Television film
1986 Vanishing Act Harry Kenyon Television film
1989 A Deadly Silence Attorney Gianelli Television film
1989 Incident at Dark River Tim McFall Television film
Also executive producer and writer
1990 Coach Jeffrey Episode: "A Jerk at the Opera"
1990 Murder, She Wrote Drew Borden Episode: "The Family Jewels"
1990 Frederick Forsyth Presents Joe Roth Episode: "The Price of the Bride"
1991 The Whereabouts of Jenny Van Zandy Television film
1991 Matlock Judge David Bennett 2 episodes
1991 Silent Motive Detective Paul Trella Television film; also producer
1991 Memories of M*A*S*H Himself Television special
1994 Hart to Hart: Old Friends Never Die Frank Crane Television film
1994 An Evening at the Improv Himself (Host) Episode: "Mike Farrell/John Pinette/Bruce Gold, and more!"
1995 The Monroes Tustin 3 episodes
1996 Vows of Deception Clay Spencer Television film
1996–1999 Superman: The Animated Series Jonathan Kent Voice, recurring role (9 episodes)
1997 Sins of the Mind William Voice, television film; also executive producer
1997–2003 Biography Himself (Interviewee) 2 episodes
1999 Jeopardy! Himself (Celebrity Contestant) "S15 EP #184"
1999 The Vatican Revealed Narrator Television film
1999–2002 Providence Dr. James Hansen Series regular (96 episodes)
2000 The 70s: The Decade That Changed Television Himself (Host) Television film
2002 M*A*S*H*: 30th Anniversary Reunion Himself Television special; also executive producer
2003 The Crooked E: The Unshredded Truth About Enron Kenneth Lay Television film
2003 Justice League Jonathan Kent Voice, episode: "Comfort and Joy"
2004 The Clinic Dr. Cyrus Gachet Television film
2004 Justice League Unlimited Jonathan Kent, Brainiac Voice, episode: "For the Man Who Has Everything"
2005 Locusts Lyle Rierden Television film
2005 Larry King Live Himself (Guest) 1 episode
2006 E! True Hollywood Story Himself (Interviewee) Episode: "Michael J. Fox"
2007 Smith Dr. Breen unknown episode
2007–2008 Desperate Housewives Milton Lang 3 episodes
2008 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Jonah Malcolm Episode: "Persona"
2009 Without a Trace Ross Baldwin Episode: "Hard Landing"
2009 Ghost Whisperer Bill Jett Episode: "Do Over"
2010 Miami Medical Dr. Carl Willis Episode: "Golden Hour"
2012 Supernatural Fred Jones Episode: "Hunteri Heroici"
2014–2015 The Red Road David Rogers 7 episodes
2018 American Crime Story Lee Miglin 2 episodes
2019 NCIS Judge Miles Deakin 2 episodes


Year Title Accolade / Category Results Ref
1980 M*A*S*H* Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy or Variety or Music Series (for playing B.J. Hunnicutt) Nominated [1]
1982 M*A*S*H* Directors Guild Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Comedy Series (for episode "Death Takes a Holiday") Nominated
1981 M*A*S*H* Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series (for episode "Death Takes a Holiday") Nominated [2]
1982 The Body Human: Becoming a Man Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Performer in Children's Programming Nominated
1993 Women in Film Crystal + Lucy Award for Humanitarian Award Won
2009 M*A*S*H* TV Land Award for Impact Award (shared with Alan Alda, Allan Arbus, William Christoper, Larry Gelbert, Jeff Maxwell, Burt Metcalfe, Gene Reynolds, David Odgen Stiers, Loretta Swit, Kellye Nakahara) Won
2018 American Crime Story Gold Derby Award for Ensemble of the Year (shared with Joanna Adler, Annaleigh Ashford, Jon Jon Briones, Darren Criss, Penelope Cruz, Jay R. Ferguson, Cody Fern, Max Greenfield, Judith Light, Ricky Martin, Dascha Polanco, Edgar Ramirez, Finn Wittrock) Nominated


  1. ^ a b "How 'MASH' actor Mike Farrell became a leading voice against the death penalty in California". Los Angeles Times. October 11, 2016. Retrieved February 27, 2024.
  2. ^ a b O’neill, Ann (April 1, 2001). "The Actor Standing in Front of Death's Door". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 27, 2024.
  3. ^ "Today's Underrated Stars! – Meet Mike Farrell". Todaysunderratedstars.20m.com. November 18, 1999. Archived from the original on May 8, 2011. Retrieved May 17, 2011.
  4. ^ "Together We Served - PFC Michael Farrell". TogetherWeServed.com. Retrieved May 4, 2020.
  5. ^ "21 TV stars who appeared as guests on 'Bonanza'". Me-TV Network. Archived from the original on September 13, 2018. Retrieved September 13, 2018.
  6. ^ "Bonanza" The Hidden Enemy (TV Episode 1972), archived from the original on November 10, 2016, retrieved September 13, 2018
  7. ^ Perlmutter, David (May 4, 2018). The Encyclopedia of American Animated Television Shows. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 9781538103746.
  8. ^ O'Connor, John J. (November 7, 1983). "TV VIEW; SOME MADE-FOR-TV FILMS ARE MORE THAN FLUFF". The New York Times. Archived from the original on May 24, 2015. Retrieved October 17, 2018.
  9. ^ a b c "Producer Marvin Minoff dies at 78 – Worked on Frost-Nixon TV interview specials". Variety. November 13, 2009. Retrieved December 2, 2009.
  10. ^ a b c Barnes, Mike (November 13, 2009). "'Nixon Interviews' producer Marvin Minoff dies". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on October 24, 2012. Retrieved December 2, 2009.
  11. ^ "Farrell & Minkoff Ink A Disney Pact". Variety. April 9, 1986. p. 22.
  12. ^ "Mike Farrell Online". Mikefarrell.org. March 1, 2004. Archived from the original on May 14, 2011. Retrieved May 17, 2011.
  13. ^ "Mike Farrell – Great Human Rights Activists". Retrieved November 24, 2020.
  14. ^ MILLER, MARJORIE (August 11, 1985). "TV Doctor From 'MASH' Scrubs Up For Salvador Surgery". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 30, 2021.
  15. ^ "Biography". Mike Farrell Online. Archived from the original on August 11, 2007. Retrieved August 30, 2007.
  16. ^ "Foundation voices". Military Religious Freedom Foundation. Archived from the original on December 15, 2014. Retrieved December 18, 2014.
  17. ^ Biggs, Julia (February 5, 2019). "'Dr. Keeling's Curve' starring TV star Farrell takes the stage at SIUE". Alton Telegraph. Retrieved August 12, 2021.
  18. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: Andrews, Jason (December 16, 2016). "Tucker Carlson vs. actor Mike Farrell on 'unqualified' Trump". Youtube.
  19. ^ Farrell, Mike (2007). Just Call Me Mike: A Journey to Actor and Activist. Akashic Books/RDV Books. pp. 61–68. ISBN 9781933354484.
  20. ^ Metz, Vicki (November 8, 1987). "'Lights, Camera, Action! — on L.I." The New York Times. p. Long Island 11. Retrieved August 18, 2023.