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The Many Talents of Gary Berghoff

You might remember him as Radar O’Reilly from the film and tv show M*A*S*H, or from the 1995 movie Behind The Waterfall, but not many would know Gary Berghoff for his astonishing wildlife painting, his poetry, his writing or his jazz drumming. Nor might you know about the disability he overcame to achieve so much. Below we talk about just some of the many talents of Gary berghoff.

Emmy Winning Actor


Berghoff first hit the limelight on Off-Broadway, starring as Charlie Brown in the hit musical You’re a Good Man. He featured in many smaller tv roles in shows such as Wonder Woman, C.H.I.P.S and the beloved The Love Boat but his acting career peaked, winning an Emmy for Outstanding Continuing Performance by a  Supporting Actor in a Comedy Show in 1977 for his role as the affable and ever fallible Radar in the hit show M*A*S*H which ran from 1967 to 1983.

My own father didn't have me until he was 63, and the first time we played peek-a-boo together he had a stroke.

But family life always took centre stage for Berghoff and when the M*A*S*H studio finally closed its doors acting became a passion of lesser priority for him. He rarely appeared on our tv sets through the 1980’s and 90’s until his last silver screen hoorah in 1995, directing and starring as an unlikely psychopath in the film Small kill.

I've discovered that the standard all-American dream of fame and fortune is not success for me. Success for me is simply the joy of working - doing good work - and then bringing that joy home to my family. But if what I do in my work doesn't enrich my life with my family, I'm doing the wrong thing.

The above you may have already known. The below perhaps not so much.


Accomplished Jazz Drummer


Berghoff was born with Poland Syndrome, a condition that affects muscle growth on one side of the body. For him it meant three fingers on his right hand were smaller than those on his left. Suprising then that Berghoff was a well-established professional drummer. He performed in a successful Jazz trio called The Wee Three. They recorded their first album in 1983 and Berghoff is credited with writing over one hundred songs. He contributed to the M*A*S*H title soundtrack and features in some episodes playing drums live, with no overdubbing


Wildlife Artist


Berghoff is also a well-respected artist. He painted from an early age, featuring in state wide competitions while in high school, but painting really only became a passion for him in the mid 1990’s when his acting took a back seat. An advocate for wildlife preservation, he painted mostly extinct or endangered animal species, in his own words “bringing them back to life”. His work has been exhibited all over North America, sales often going towards wildlife preservation projects. Some of his pieces have fetched up to $25,000.

The richest people are those who have life arranged so they have food for the family and the rent or mortgage paid. After that, at least in my case, it can become a pretty boring existence if wealth is the only objective

Writer and poet


Berghoff published a book of his poetry entitled To Mash and Back, My Life in Poems and Songs in 2009. A journey through his early life in Wisconsin through his acting career and after, it is an inciteful, often hilarious and always honest view of acting, painting, family life, fatherhood and fishing.


Actor, director, poet, writer, artist. It would be enough to fill many a person’s life – but Berghoff didn’t stop there. He has patent for inventions such as a type of fishing tackle that attracts a specific type of fish, a fishing rod, and most impressively a handle that allows you to raise and lower the toilet seat. He is a keen philatelist and on the judging panel for the publishing of United States stamps. What more can one person achieve?

Gary Berghoff is now 78. He is an exceptionally talented person who could write a book on how not to let a disability hold you back. Family life always took priority for him and you would have to wonder what else he may have achieved had he just stayed on the radar.