Horns as Stage Props, IV (M*A*S*H*)

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The long-running series M*A*S*H* takes place during the Korean War and features an emergency medical unit that is located near the front battle line. The title of the show stands for Mobile Army Surgical Hospital.

In the episode “The Smell of Music” from the sixth season, the wisecracking doctors Pierce and Honeycutt are finishing a 72-hour shift of non-stop surgery. When they arrive at their community housing tent another surgeon, Charles Emerson Winchester III, has discovered a new way to relax – playing the French horn.

Below is a brief 2-minute segment from the scene. Winchester gives the horn call from Don Juan a try with comic results.

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Link to Audio

The conflict takes a turns for the worse, into a prolonged feud between Winchester and his horn, and the other doctors who refuse to bathe until he stops.

Which side will win? The stinky horn player or the stinky doctors?

It comes to a peak moment with “Hawkeye” and Honeycutt banging on drums, buzzing a kazoo and honking a jeep horn versus Winchester blasting away as loudly as he can.

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The rest of the encampment tires of this battle and takes charge.

First, and much to Winchester’s delight, nurses hose down, soap and scrub the two smelly doctors.

But this is not the end of the camp’s revenge. Nurse Hoolihan takes Winchester’s horn and declares a “third wave.”

Here is more audio from the end of that scene. Winchester’s final comments are priceless.

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Link to audio

Barbarians! You visigoths! Do you realize you have taken the last vestige of Western civilization left here, and you’ve run it under your pagan wheels?

The star behind the character

The character of Winchester on M*A*S*H* was played by David Ogden Stiers, who is both an actor and musician. He is currently the Associate Conductor of the Newport Symphony.

While I don’t imagine that he actually played the horn tracks used in this episode, he does a great job forming an embouchure and faking fingerings!

*All images and audio in this article are used without permission under the auspices of fair and limited use. These items remain the sole and absolute property of the CBS broadcasting network and their respective subsidiaries.

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