Press Pass 11: “Will Real Jamie Farr Please Stand Up?”

In the 1970s, fans of television relied on local news publications, national publications such as TV Guide, and talk shows to learn about their favorite actors. Networks and production studios would release information about upcoming seasons of a series and the next week’s episode. Occasionally they would release what are sometimes called “feel good” pieces that checked in on an actor, or told a funny story about that actor. In this undated release, we get just that about Jamie Farr.

Given that this release says that Farr had played Klinger for three and half years, this must have been released sometime during season four. This makes sense since season four was when Farr was added to the cast full time. That season was also a struggle for M*A*S*H since they had replaced two major characters, and concluded season three by killing off Col. Blake. Some fans were unhappy, and the ratings showed it. I suspect that this type of article was meant to remind people of what they loved about M*A*S*H, and in this case, that is Klinger and his funny attempts to get out of the Army.

The short article discusses how Farr was hired on M*A*S*H for one day, but had stayed. He worked on a number of shows before M*A*S*H, but often in small roles and the release says that he “was ready to quit show business when he got a call for a one-day job in the sixth show of the first season of M*A*S*H.” Klinger became a central character in the show, and he evolved over the eleven seasons. I like how the article includes information about his family and home to provide a little insight into his life. Today, celebrities can interact with fans directly on social media, but at this time it was very difficult to learn more about your favorite actors.

Jamie Farr’s Klinger is one of the highlights of M*A*S*H and a classic character in television history. I am glad that releases like this were sent at the time to keep fans connected to the show. And I am glad this sheet of paper survived the decades to end up in my collection!

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