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A tearful cast of 'M-A-S-H' hugged and cried and...

By VERNON SCOTT, UPI Hollywood Reporter

HOLLYWOOD -- A tearful cast of 'M-A-S-H' hugged and cried and said goodbye Friday night as the actors and crew filmed the final scene of one of television's longest running and most honored series.

When producer-director Burt Metcalfe called out 'That's a wrap' after Alan Alda's final line as Capt. Hawkeye Pierce, the cast fell into each other's arms and cried as the Korean War comedy series ended nearly 11 years on the air.

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The final scene had the members of the 4007th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital putting mementos of war into a time capsule to be buried in Korea. Hawkeye had the final line when he said to Maj. Margaret 'Hotlips' Houlihan, played by Loretta Swit, 'Since we're burying everything, how about the hatchet?'

Tension built all through the shooting of the program's 151st script and Miss Swit said later at a news conference at the 20th Century-Fox commissary that she had had to fight back tears all day.

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'This is a very tearful moment for me,' she said. 'I was trying not to cry in the final scene.'

About 200 reporters and photographers jammed the studio's Stage 9 for the final scene, causing delays in the shooting. They crammed into the commissary to hear the major cast members give tearful farewells.

Telegrams of congratulations were read from President Reagan, former President Gerald Ford and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

Alda said many of the cast members could not sleep the night before the final shooting and called each other on the phone to talk about the experience of nearly 11 years of work on a series that won countless awards and was consistently at or near the top of the ratings.

In addition to Alda and Miss Swit, the entire cast assembled for the final scene and news conference, including David Ogden Stiers (Maj. Winchester); Mike Farrell (B.J. Honeycutt); Jaime Farr (Cpl. Clinger), and William Christopher (Father Mulcahy).

'M-A-S-H' became a fixture in the top 10 Nielsen ratings for 10 years by mixing laughter with anti-war messages, and garnered 99 TV Emmy Award nominations and 14 Emmys.

Mobile Army Surgical Hospital 4077 leaves the air next month after making stars of most of its cast members.

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The cast voted last year to end the marathon serie;, most of them in the belief they had exhausted the possibilities of their characters.

'After 260 episodes I'm tired,' said producer Metcalfe. 'We'd like to go out on top. We've exhausted the story lines and the actors want to get on with their careers.'

Alda, a member of the original cast, was a little known actor before he became Hawkeye on the show. He has emerged as a respected writer and director of the show and, on the strength of his performances, also starred in several movies since the show began.

The finale, filmed last November, brings the Korean conflict to a close and sends the doctors, nurses and support personnel the 4077th back to their homes in the United States.

In all, there were 11 stars during the show's run. Those who left the cast along the way were Wayne Rogers (Trapper John), Larry Linville (Frank Burns), Gary Burghoff (Radar) and McLean Stevenson (Henry Blake).

'M-A-S-H' won the coveted George Foster Peabody Award, the only comedy show so honored. It also won numerous Golden Globe Awards among other honors.

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