M*A*S*H (1972-1983) was one of the most popular TV shows during its time. The show was a war comedy-drama series with the show’s name being an acronym for Mobile Army Surgical Hospital. The show was centred mainly around four characters namely – Hawkeye, Father Mulcahy, Margaret Houlihan, and Maxwell Klinger.
The show also had a special character Frank Burns. He was a grumpy ranking surgeon who was the viewer’s favorite character to hate. This popular character was played by actor Larry Linville.
But much to people’s dismay, Larry’s character suddenly disappeared in season 6. He last appeared in the final episode of season 5 and was gone in the next part. There wasn’t even a ‘farewell’ episode for him or anything such.
What happened to Frank Burns?
Even though there was no proper adios to Frank, the premiere episode of Season 6 “Fade Out, Fade In” provided some explanation about his sudden departure.
It clarified that Burns traveled to Tokyo, looking for Margaret while she was on her honeymoon.
Frank goes “crazy” and starts identifying every woman as Margaret, and is put on a psychiatric hold. He ends up calling the 4077th and reaches Hawkeye and BJ, who clear Frank of his charges. They transfer him to a veterans’ hospital in Indiana. He also gets promoted to lieutenant colonel.
Why did Larry leave the show?
Larry Linville left the show as he believed that Burns’ character had grown to its fullest. He said that Frank could grow no more and he had given all he could for the role. He also believed that Frank’s mean, sarcastic personality was a bit too one-dimensional.
His contract of 5 years for the show was up but, he was offered an extension of 2 years. Larry chose to decline the offer and went ahead with leaving the show in 1977.
What did Larry do after that?
Even though Larry gained a fair share of his popularity from M*A*S*H, he went ahead to do several other shows and movies like Mannix (Larry starred in eight episodes) and The Doctors. He also played Dr Bob in Earth Girls Are Easy, Principal McGree in Rock ‘n Roll High School Forever, and Shelby in Fatal Pursuit.
Unfortunately, Larry passed away early at the mere age of 60. He had a deadly tumour below his sternum. After going through surgery to remove that cancerous piece of lung, Linville was infected by pneumonia. He passed away in the year 2000 after battling cancer for 2 years.
Even though Larry left the show early, he left a mark. His character is still popular. He was a great actor who will always be cherished in fan’s hearts.