Gary Burghoff retired his role as Radar on M*A*S*H to be a daddy, a role he says is more important than money or fame

Gary Burghoff, who played the lovely but cunning Radar on the military-medical comedy MAS*H, gave up his acting career to focus on repairing his family, which was progressively falling apart.

The 79-year-old Emmy Award-winning actor recently became a grandfather when Miles “Sonar” Burghoff gave birth to a baby girl.

Miles uploaded a picture of himself with his newborn daughter during the end of March 2023. I caught the best 8-pound fish of my life today, it says in the caption. Rylee Elisabeth Burghoff is here to introduce herself to everyone.

Miles is a seasoned angler who has inherited his father’s passion for the sport. “He’s the one who really started me out,” the younger Burghoff said at a fishing tournament.

His father answered, “I’m just here to offer moral support. This is a testament to parents doing what they love with their kids.”

Although Miles didn’t pursue the same career path as his father, he does share the illustrious Radar name. “I was dubbed the name Sonar because my father had the role of Radar on the TV series M*A*S*H,” Miles said.

The children of Burghoff and his second wife, Elizabeth Bolstrom, whom he wed in 1985 and divorced in 2005, are Miles and his brother Jordan. In November 2019, Bolstrom passed away.

With his first wife, Janet Gayle, whom he divorced in 1979, Burghoff also shares a daughter, Gena Gayle Burghoff, who was born in 1985. Burghoff didn’t take much with him when he departed MAS*H.

“I didn’t leave M*A*S*H a wealthy man,” Burghoff said in an interview. “I could have renegotiated my contract, but money wasn’t the most important thing in my life…You either want to be rich and famous, or you want to be a daddy. You can’t do both.”

Burghoff selected regional theater over many offers for roles in 1980s sitcoms, including one on Newhart. He added, “I wanted to pick the number of weeks I’d work and spend the rest of the time with my family.”

His theater appearances soon fizzled out and couldn’t hold a candle to his breakthrough performance on MAS*H. Burghoff played Cpl. Walter ‘Radar’ O’Reilly, a gullible farm lad employed as the company clerk (and occasionally bugler) with the U.S. Army’s Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) in the Korean War (1950–1953), for seven seasons from 1972 to 1983.

The 1970 film, which also starred Donald Sutherland, Robert Duvall, and Sally Kellerman in the Oscar-nominated performance of Major Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan—a part played by Loretta Swit in the TV adaptation—featured Burghoff as the only actor to portray the character in both the TV series and the movie.

Burghoff reportedly found his rigorous schedule difficult on his family life after appearing in every episode for the show’s first three seasons, which led to a decrease in his character’s appearances from 24 to 13, down from his prior appearances on every episode. With a two-part goodbye, Good-Bye Radar, that explained his release from the army, season seven served as Radar’s final season.

Burghoff was experiencing issues with his wife at the time, according to MAS*H director Charles S. Dubin in an interview with The Television Academy Foundation. Dubin remarked that Burghoff “couldn’t go on” in reference to the Goodbye Radar episodes where the character has to say goodbye to the woman he loves. He started crying, so I had to stop everything for fifteen minutes and take him on a tour of Fox’s back lot.” Dubin continued, “In the script, he was talking about a future with her, possibly, (which) related to his own domestic problems. I think that was a large part of it.”

The award-winning Alan Alda, who played Capt. Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce, Loretta Swit, who played “Hot Lips” Houlihan, and Jamie Farr, who played Sgt. Maxwell Q. Klinger, managed the barracks for the remaining three seasons of MAS*H.

In addition to WALTE*R, a third spin-off detailing the narrative of Radar’s life after MASH, which wasn’t picked up, Burghoff returned his role as Radar for two episodes in the spin-off series AfterMash.

Hoping to lure Burghoff back, producers offered him a $US4 million contract, which he declined. By 1991, “the money ran out,” and Burghoff was near bankrupt. “I was down to my last $500,” he said in the interview.

The multi-talented Burghoff, an off-Broadway actor, jazz musician, stamp collector, and creator of the Chum Magic fish-attractor gadget, chose to change the narrative at that point. Burghoff started creating oil paintings on canvas of North American wildlife that were sold for $25,000 each and were placed in art galleries.

Today, if you’re lucky, you might be able to find a piece at auction.

Burghoff contributed money to a GoFundMe effort for those whose lives were impacted by the California fires four years ago. Naturally, he appears older in the video that his son Jordan released, but admirers still praised his acting and efforts.

One said, “OMG I remember him when I was just a child watching mash. He still has the same voice and looks.” Another commented, “Good to see you Mr. Burghoff, I’m donating not just because of the need, but because I feel I owe you something. As a kid I watched MASH and loved your work. Now my wife and I are enjoying it all over again on Netflix. You made me laugh, feel, and think, and I appreciated all of that. Jordan, thanks for posting this.”

    It’s a blessing that guys like Gary Burghoff exist. Share your recollections of MAS*H with us, and let us know what you think of him quitting his job as Radar to attempt to restore his marriage.?