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Burt Metcalfe, Who Left His Mark on ‘M*A*S*H,’ Is Dead at 87

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Burt Metcalfeas showrunner for “mash” During the last six years of his 11th season, he began his tenure, helped write the two-and-a-half-hour final episode, made key casting decisions as he contributed ideas from his trip to South Korea, and in July died. Los Angeles on the 27th. he was 87 years old.

His death in hospital was due to sepsis, his wife said. Jan Jordenplayed a nurse in several episodes of “M*A*S*H”.

Mr. Metcalfe was an actor and casting director before becoming a producer on “M*A*S*H,” a sitcom about the staff of the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital during the Korean War. The best TV series ever. He joined the first season in 1972 at the request of the show’s architect, Gene Reynolds, along with his friend and writer Larry Gelbart. When Mr. Reynolds stepped down after the fifth season, Mr. Metcalfe succeeded him as executive his producer running the series.

“He was able to run the show successfully because of his personality, which was unusual.” Alan Alda In an interview, he said: “He was unselfish, gentle, and concerned with the humanity of his characters.”

Metcalfe didn’t have to change much of what was built by Reynolds and Gelbart, who left after the fourth season. For example, he continued Mr. Reynolds’ practice of interviewing doctors and nurses who served in the Korean War. Alda, who wrote and directed many episodes, said he consulted transcripts of interviews looking for phrases that would inspire the story.

When Mr. Metcalf interviewed a war doctor at a conference in Chicago, one said the series made him a “hero” in his family. “They saw the show and my son said to the neighborhood kids, ‘My dad is Hawkeye.'” Interview with Television Academy in 2003.

He said that under his direction, “M*A*S*H” had a more serious direction, without what he called Mr. Gelbart’s “comedic intensity.” .

“It delves deeper into the character’s personality in a way that we’ve never done before,” he told the Academy.

Prior to the sixth season, as Mr. Metcalfe’s first showrunner, he faced a replacement job. Larry Linville, was leaving the show after his run as Major Frank Burns in the villainous, rule-obsessed Ninny. Metcalf, who originally cast Linville, said he wanted an actor who could play a much more formidable surgeon with a sense of superiority. I spotted him one Saturday night when I saw David Ogden Stiers playing the ruthless stationmaster on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and he was slapped with the gorgeous surgeon Charles Emerson Winchester III. hired him to play.

‘I wrote him an email when David Stiers was dying,’ Metcalf said in 2020 “M*A*S*H” Matters A podcast hosted by Ryan Patrick and Jeff Maxwell, who played food server Igor on the series. Of all the decisions I had to make in 2018, it was the best decision I’ve made.” Mr. Steers died in 2018.

Burton Dennis Metcalfe was born on March 19, 1935 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. His father, Lewis, was a vending machine dealer who died when Bart was three years old. Bart moved to Montreal with his secretary, his mother Esther (Goldman) Metcalfe, where he developed his love of acting. He performed cartoon sketches and imitations in front of his aunts, uncles and cousins. While attending children’s drama school, he was asked to appear in a half-hour radio drama.

Bart and his mother moved to Los Angeles in 1949 and graduated from high school. In 1955, he received a Bachelor of Arts in Theater Arts from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Over the next decade, Mr. Metcalfe worked as an actor, making guest appearances on series such as “Death Valley Days,” “The Outer Limits,” “Have Gun — Will Travel,” and “The Twilight Zone.” 1961-62 as a regular on the season sitcom “Father of the Bride”. as a surfer named Lord Byron in the 1959 film Gidget;

Feeling bored, he moved to casting in 1965. This eventually led Reynolds to ask him to find actors for the two pilots. *S*H.

Both pilots were picked up, but “Anna and the King,” which featured Yul Brynner reprising his stage and screen role, was canceled after 13 episodes. *A*S*H” associate producer. He became a producer for the fourth season, during which he directed the first three episodes (31 in total). When Mr. Reynolds left to do the production of “Lou Grant,” he became executive producer.

A few years before M*A*S*H ended, Mr. Metcalf traveled to South Korea to speak to civilians affected by the war. He was with a group of South Koreans trying to escape North Korean patrols, and the story of his mother choking a baby to death so as not to endanger their safety stuck with him.

Metcalf contributed the story to the script for the series finale. In that episode, Hawkeye has a nervous breakdown while on a bus with members of the 4077th Unit and a refugee after telling one of his refugees to quiet the chickens so as not to alert the enemy. caused She choked her baby.

Metcalf has been nominated for 13 Emmy Awards, including four for Best Director.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by Emily O’Meara, whom he considered a daughter.

Shortly after “M*A*S*H” ended, Mr. Metcalfe became executive producer of the series. “After Mash” The sequel featured three original characters, Corporal Clinger (played by Jamie Farr), Colonel Potter (Harry Morgan), and Father Mulcahy (William Christopher) working at a veterans hospital in Missouri. It was discontinued after 30 episodes.

Metcalf joked on the podcast that his decision to hire Steers was “just the beginning of many bad decisions to be made on AfterMASH.”

He later became an executive at Warner Bros. and MTM Enterprises. He retired in the 1990s.

“TV was changing by then,” Jorden said in a phone interview. “He said it got mean and you only get to see a show like ‘M*A*S*H’ once in a lifetime.”

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