MishM*A*S*H 18 (Follow-Up): The Officers’ Club Sign

On Monday, I published a look behind the scenes at the Smithsonian in which I featured a number of items including the “M*A*S*H 4077” sign that appeared in Officers’ Club. In my original post, I stated that the names on the sign appear to have been created by the art department and were likely meaningless. I was mistaken, and I apologize. The names on the sign have been a mystery and a question about the names was asked on an episode of the podcast M*A*S*H Matters in 2021. Today though, some of the mystery will go away thanks to reader (and Fox executive) Dan Harrison as he has been able to identify some of the names on the sign!

First, I want to provide a brief history of the sign itself. I went down the rabbit hole scanning through episodes to find when the sign made its first appearance, and I learned quite a bit more than I expected. The Officers’ Club is built in the episode “Officers Only” (02×15), but in that initial episode, something different is on that far wall. The same is true for the next episode, “Henry in Love” (02×16). A portrait of General Douglas MacArthur is in the spot where the sign will eventually be. The sign makes its first appearance in the episode “As You Were” (02×20), but something is missing. The sign says “M*A*S*H 4077” and includes the red cross and caduceus, but the signatures are not there! The signatures make their first appearance on the sign in “The General Flipped at Dawn” (03×01), so the signatures were likely added between seasons two and three.

While the signpost gets a lot of attention on the M*A*S*H set, the sign in the Officers’ Club is just as recognizable. It’s in the background of countless scenes in the Officers’ Club and it was often used for cast press photos. The 10th Anniversary of the show was held on the Officers’ Club set, although, from the press photos I have, it looks like they covered the “M*A*S*H 4077” sign with the 10th anniversary of M*A*S*H logo instead. The Officers’ Club was part of M*A*S*H for ten of the eleven seasons, and the sign was there were for all but two episodes. That wraps up the history of the sign, so let’s look at the signatures on the sign.

  1. “Pvt. Larry Marshall” is an homage to Larry Gelbart. He combined his first name with Marshall, the maiden name of his wife Pat.
  2. This appears to be the signature of “Bill Christopher,” which is William Christopher, who played Father Mulcahy.
  3. Actor Dennis Troy was a long-time background actor on M*A*S*H with a number of speaking roles as well. He is represented on the sign as “PFC Dennis Troy.”
  4. “Sgt. Lowenheim, M USA” is Marty Lowenheim. He was the dialogue coach on M*A*S*H.
  5. The name “James Mathes” is used in the episode “Identity Crisis” (10×02). Played by Dirk Blocker, he was the soldier who received the “Dear John” letter, and his girlfriend asked for him to return her picture. This episode is from season ten, and we know the sign pre-dates it. So was his name added in season 10 or did the writers (Dan Wilcox, Thad Mumford, and Dennis Koenig) of “Identity Crisis” get the character’s name from the sign?
  6. “Cpl. Bill Jurgensen” represents William K Jurgensen who was the director of photography from 1972 to 1977.
  7. Under the S in M*A*S*H, we see “Col. G. Reynolds.” This, of course, represents series co-creator and executive producer Gene Reynolds.
  8. “Dominick Palmer” represents Dominick Palmieri who was the director of photography from 1978 to 1983. He also served in that same role for two episodes of AfterMASH.
  9. Don Weis is credited with directing 16 episodes of M*A*S*H including several around the time the sign was added the Officers’ Club set. Here he is represented as “Mad Don W.”

I appreciate Dan reaching out and correcting my post. His connection with Gelbart and M*A*S*H run deep, and I highly recommend listening to his interview on the M*A*S*H Matters podcast as well. At first, I was going to update the original post, but I felt that this deserved a full addendum post instead as this adds to our knowledge of the series. There are still many more unidentified names on the sign. Do you recognize any of the other names? If so, please contact me.

2 thoughts on “MishM*A*S*H 18 (Follow-Up): The Officers’ Club Sign

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: