The television show “M*A*S*H” followed the lives of members of a mobile army surgical medical hospital during the Korean War. The soldiers — doctors, nurses, and other staff — used humor to escape the horrors of the conflict.
“M*A*S*H” was not an instant hit when it premiered in 1972, but the show built a strong following and stayed on television for 11 years. The final episode, titled “Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen,’’ aired on February 28, 1983, and set the standard for series finales. During the show’s final six minutes, viewership peaked at 121.6 million.
Much of the show’s success derived from a strong ensemble of actors. Alan Alda was the wisecracking antihero doctor “Hawkeye” Pierce; Henry Morgan portrayed fatherly commanding officer Col. Sherman Potter; and Loretta Swit played the buttoned-up but dedicated Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan.
To mark Swit’s 80th birthday, 24/7 Wall St. has listed the top 20 “M*A*S*H” episodes.