This is the fortieth in a series of examinations of urban legends about television and the people involved in TV and whether they are true or false. This week, discover Radar O’Reilly’s secret, marvel at the time that Terry O’Quinn stabbed Matthew Fox with a knife and learn about the Bonanza star who was hired and fired all within a single episode!
Click here to view an archive of the previous TV urban legends.
TV URBAN LEGEND: Radar O’Reilly’s left hand was never shown on M.A.S.H.
One of the few actors to star in both the film M.A.S.H. and the TV series M.A.S.H….
Gary Burghoff, otherwise known as Radar O’Reilly, is one of the actors most associated with M.A.S.H. (perhaps only Jamie Farr and Alan Alda are more associated with the series than Burghoff).
Look again at the picture above. Notice anything? In the photo, Burghoff is hiding his left hand. This is because Burghoff was born with a misshapened left hand. Reader Eric P. wrote in to ask if it was true that Burghoff’s left hand was never seen on the series.
The answer is no. While Burghoff hid the hand quite often, there are more than a few instances where it is visible, including interestingly enough, in his first scene in the first episode of the series!
Check it out…
So no, Eric, while they did hide it, they did not hide it entirely.
Thanks to Eric for the question!
TV URBAN LEGEND: Terry O’Quinn accidentally stabbed Matthew Fox with a real knife in the finale of Lost.
SPOILERS FOR LOST AHEAD!
In the final season of the ABC series Lost…
Terry O’Quinn’s character, Locke, is killed off and the Man in Black takes his place by taking on his form (one of the Man in Black’s powers). In the series finale, through various machinations, the Man in Black is finally mortal and can leave the island. Matthew Fox’s character, Jack, tries to stop him.
and in the ensuing struggle, the Man in Black stabs Jack in the abdomen…
Amazingly enough, O’Quinn accidentally used a REAL knife in the scene!!
You see, the scene was done with a real knife and a collapsible stunt knife. Now a collapsible knife is no joke in and of itself – it can still mess you up if you’re hit with it, so in the scene Fox was offered a variety of different padding to wear under his clothes. He eventually went with a kevlar padding. The kevlar was the only one of the paddings that could withstand a direct blow from a knife without the knife penetrating Fox’s skin.
Well, as it turned out, it was awfully lucky of Fox to pick that kevlar padding, because during the scuffle, O’Quinn accidentally used the wrong knife and stabbed Fox with the REAL knife instead of the collapsible one! Luckily, the aforementioned kevlar padding kept it from entering Fox’s skin, instead just leaving a nasty bruise.
Apparently, they considered doing the scene at one point without ANY padding! Yikes.
Thanks to Jorge Garcia’s neat Lost podcast, Geronimo Jack’s Beard, for the information!
TV URBAN LEGEND: Barry Coe was hired and fired from Bonanza all in the time in took to film one episode.
Initially, Bonanza starred four actors, Lorne Greene (as Ben Cartwright) and Pernell Roberts, Dan Blocker and Michael Landon (as his three sons, Adam, Hoss and Little Joe)….
Roberts was not a huge fan of the material of the series, and very early on he began making noise about wanting to leave the series. The first instance of the producers taking Roberts’ demands seriously came in the beginning of the fourth season, when in the first episode they added actor Barry Coe to the cast as Little Joe’s roguishly charming half-brother Clay Stafford.
The casting was a bit of a game of chicken between the producers and Roberts. “You want to leave, well here you go, we have a replacement for you.”
However, the producers were not counting on the reaction that they would receive from a DIFFERENT cast member. Michael Landon did not like the addition, as he felt that Coe encroached on his role within the series – the handsome young heartthrob, for lack of a better description.
So in the midst of filming the episode, filming took a break. The producers and the main cast huddled up in a meeting and when they were finished, Coe was no longer a cast member. The script for the episode was re-written with Coe’s character choosing to keep on moving down the line rather than settling down on the Ponderosa with the rest of the Cartwrights.
This would not be the last time that Landon would get involved in the casting of the show (I’ll get around to another instance in a future installment of TV Urban Legends Revealed).
Thanks to the great Bonanza website, Bonanza: Scenery of the Ponderosa, for the information.
Okay, that’s it for this installment!
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org