The final episode of MASH — “Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen” — aired 35 years ago, and the power of that finale, as well as the series itself, still resonates all of these years later. Maybe that’s why there’s such excitement building for the reunion of the cast on Alan Alda’s Clear + Vivid podcast. But as far as Loretta Swit (who will always be Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan to us), there’s something more to it.
“I’m sensing you love the show,” says Loretta, trying to offer up an explanation for the excitement of the still undated reunion. “We became members of your family after 11 years of being in your kitchen and your bedroom, your living room, your den and so forth. I think the characters were so painfully human, it was easy to adopt us into your family. And you haven’t seen us collectively in a while. I mean, we see each other all the time. We always laugh when everybody says, ‘It’s a reunion.’ It’s like, ‘Are you kidding? I just had lunch with him.'”
We recently had the opportunity to spend a considerable amount of time talking to Loretta for our own Classic TV & Film Podcast, which will be going live in the near future. And that conversation covers the gamut, from the reunion (sorry, Loretta, to us it is a reunion), her animal rights activism, the book she’s written (SwitHeart: The Watercolour Artistry & Animal Activism of Loretta Swit), and, of course, general memories of MASH.
“The truth is, we’re family to each other,” Loretta points out. “There’s no question about that. As a matter of fact, Alan and I were together having lunch when he said, ‘I was thinking that maybe all of us should get together on my podcast.’ I said, ‘Great idea, let’s do it.’ But getting these guys to set a date took weeks and weeks and weeks, with a lot of laughs along the way. Then, of course, in the middle of all this, the fires had Jamie and Joy [Farr] ousted from their beautiful home, so this has been a long time in coming. But we’re all excited about it, too. It’s going to be fun.”
As to the approach being taken, she says it’s simply going to be all of them getting together, chatting and having a great time.
“Like we used to when we were making the show,” Loretta notes. “Back then, we had a little circle of chairs which was removed from the action of the scenes being filmed. We called it our green room, even though it wasn’t a room, and we would sit with each other. It’s going to be kind of like that. Any time we get together, it’s just fun. Just last night I sent some funny pictures to Mike [Farrell] of us together when we both used to have so much hair [laughs].”
One of the more intriguing aspects of this reunion is that it’s not being done for one of the networks as a giant staged show. This format promises to be far more intimate and inviting.
“Actually, it reminds me of the time we were going to the Emmys,” she notes. “As you know, when you’re going out for the awards, the network sends these long limos and you get the red carpet treatment. Everybody does, but we opted, instead, to charter a bus and go together. So it’s kind of like the MASH cast arrives on this bus, but that’s who we are. We wanted to be in one bus in one place together.
“Our party started when we got picked up, and it was kind of funny when we got out with black ties and gowns, which was wonderful. Of course, we’ve done big time reunion stuff more than once for the networks, but this podcast reunion is a little different.”