Larry Linville

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Larry Linville
Larry Linville Major Frank Burns MASH 1972.JPG
Linville as Frank Burns
Lawrence Lavon Linville

(1939-09-29)September 29, 1939
DiedApril 10, 2000(2000-04-10) (aged 60)
Years active1960–2000
  • Kate Geer
    (m. 1962; div. 1975)
  • Vana Tribbey
    (m. 1977; div. 1982)
  • Melissa Gallant
    (m. 1982; div. 1985)
  • Susan Hagan
    (m. 1986; div. 1992)
  • Deborah Guydon
    (m. 1993)

Lawrence Lavon Linville[1] (September 29, 1939 – April 10, 2000) was an American actor known for his portrayal of the surgeon Major Frank Burns on the television series M*A*S*H.

Early life and education[edit]

Linville was born in Ojai, California, the son of Fay Pauline (née Kennedy) and Harry Lavon Linville.[2] Raised in Sacramento, he attended El Camino High School[3] (class of 1957) and later studied aeronautical engineering at the University of Colorado at Boulder before applying for a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London.[4][5]


After returning to the United States, Linville began his acting career at the Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Virginia, a year-round repertory theater under director Robert Porterfield.[6][7]

Early career[edit]

Before his five-year co-starring role on M*A*S*H, Linville had guest-starring roles on many of the well-known television series of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Included in his credits in that period are one appearance each on Bonanza, Room 222 and Adam-12. He had three appearances, as three different characters, on Mission: Impossible over three seasons of that television series. On the early seasons of Mannix, Linville had a recurring role as Lieutenant George Kramer, an ally of Mannix in the L.A. Police Department.[8]

Linville played the coroner on the television movie The Night Stalker (1972), a predecessor of the Kolchak television series, and in the episode titled "Chopper" of Kolchak: The Night Stalker, he played the youngest police captain on the force investigating murders committed by a headless motorbike rider.[9] He also had a small role in the film Kotch (1971), which was directed by Jack Lemmon and starred Walter Matthau. Linville also appeared as U.S. Treasury Agent Hugh Emery in the 1972 television series Search episode "One of Our Probes is Missing".


Larry Linville (left) with the cast of M*A*S*H (1974)

When the television series M*A*S*H was picked up for production in early-1972, Linville signed a five-year contract for the role of Major Frank Burns, an ill-tempered, inept civilian surgeon who embraced military discipline with a cartoonish over-zealousness. This contrasted with the more competent and rebellious doctors played by Alan Alda and Wayne Rogers (and later, Mike Farrell). During the second season, the sitcom's tone started to change from pure comedy to more drama-focused story lines, as it reflected issues related to the Vietnam War (though M*A*S*H was set during the Korean War, it aired during the Vietnam and post-Vietnam era and tended to reflect this period in a roundabout fashion). At the start of the series fifth season in late-1976, Linville was offered a renewal for two more seasons, but declined. As the tone of the series had evolved to more serious storylines, Linville felt that he had taken the Frank Burns character, which had become increasingly one-dimensional, as far as he could, and chose to leave the series to pursue other roles.[10]

Later career[edit]

After M*A*S*H, Linville starred or appeared in many films and television series. He was a guest-star on many television series, most frequently Murder, She Wrote, Fantasy Island, The Love Boat, The FBI Story, and CHiPs. He also appeared on episodes of Airwolf (he played Maxwell in "And a Child Shall Lead") and The Rockford Files, and appeared in the television movie The Girl, the Gold Watch & Dynamite (1981). He also played a stock character—the "Crazy General"—along with Edward Winter in the pilot episode of Misfits of Science. He also co-starred in the short-lived sitcom Grandpa Goes to Washington with Jack Albertson.[11]

Linville appeared as jealous ex-boyfriend Randy Bigelow in the short-lived 1982 Disney series Herbie, the Love Bug. He also starred in the short-lived The Jeffersons spinoff Checking In, where he played Florence Johnston's (Marla Gibbs) nemesis, Lyle Block; however, this series only lasted four episodes. In 1984, Linville co-starred on Paper Dolls, a nighttime drama on ABC offering a glimpse behind-the-scenes of the fashion industry.[11] In 1991, Linville appeared on an episode of the television series Night Court as a doctor. Linville also appeared in an episode of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman season 1 episode 3 as a crackpot claiming to have been abducted by Superman and taken aboard his spaceship.

He also had roles in many films, including School Spirit (1985), Earth Girls Are Easy (1988), C.H.U.D. II: Bud the C.H.U.D. (1989), Rock 'n' Roll High School Forever (1991), A Million to Juan (1994), No Dessert, Dad, till You Mow the Lawn (1994), and Fatal Pursuit (1995).[12]

Linville appeared as an interview subject for Memories of M*A*S*H, a 1991 special commemorating the 20th anniversary of the series. In 1997, he joined Larry Gelbart (the producer and creator of M*A*S*H) and David Ogden Stiers (who played Frank Burns' replacement on the sitcom, Major Charles Winchester) to attend a deactivation ceremony for the last remaining U.S. MASH unit in Korea.[13]

Marriage and family[edit]

He was married five times: to Kate Geer (daughter of actor Will Geer and sister of actress Ellen Geer), with whom he had a daughter, Kelly Linville (born 1970) before they divorced. Kelly was his only child.[14] He also married (and divorced) Vana Tribbey, Melissa Gallant, and Susan Hagan. His last marriage was to Deborah Guydon, who was by his side when he died.[15]

Surgery, illness, and death[edit]

After doctors found a malignant tumor under his sternum, Linville underwent surgery in February 1998 to remove part of his lung. He received further treatment, but had continuing health problems over the next two years. Linville died of pneumonia in New York City on April 10, 2000, after complications from cancer surgery.[14] His ashes were scattered at sea off the coast of Bodega Bay, California.



Year Title Role Notes
1968 The Sweet Ride Man Dancing in Club Uncredited
1971 Kotch Peter Stiel
1971 Bunny O'Hare Max (Collector #1)
1972 The Stepmother Dick Hill
1985 School Spirit President Grimshaw
1988 Blue Movies Dr. Gladding
1989 Earth Girls Are Easy Dr. Bob
1989 C.H.U.D. II: Bud the C.H.U.D. Dr. Jewell
1991 Rock 'n' Roll High School Forever Principal McGree
1992 Body Waves Himmel
1994 A Million to Juan Richard Dickerson
1994 No Dessert, Dad, till You Mow the Lawn J.J.
1995 Angel's Tide
1995 Fatal Pursuit Shelby
1997 Pressure Point Neil Kennedy
2004 West from North Goes South Rev. Lowell posthumous release


Year Title Role Notes
1968 The Doctors Paul Episode: #1.1405
1968 Judd, for the Defense Martin Lederer Episode: "The Ends of Justice"
1968–1970 Mannix Lieutenant George Kramer / Detective Sergeant George Kramer 8 episodes
1969 The Outsider Floyd Hendricks Episode: "The Secret of Mareno Bay"
1969 Marcus Welby, M.D. Dr. Beck / Doctor 2 episodes
1969 Bonanza Lieutenant Will Tyler Episode: "The Fence"
1969 Room 222 Counselor Episode: "Arizona State Loves You"
1969–1970 Mission: Impossible Colonel Leo Orlov / Alexi Silensky / Capt. Gulka 3 episodes
1969–1970 The F.B.I. George Franciscus / George Tremont 2 episodes
1970 Here Come the Brides Harry Miles Episode: "Break the Bank of Tacoma"
1970 The Young Rebels Reverend Wells Episode: "The Ring of Freedom"
1970 The Young Lawyers Bud Morton Episode: "Remember Chris Gately?"
1971 Vanished Walters Television miniseries
1971 Men at Law Episode: "Let the Dier Beware"
1971 Night Gallery Sloane Segment: "The Academy"
1972 The Night Stalker Dr. Robert Makurji TV movie
1972 Adam-12 Sgt. Hugh Brasher Episode: "The Tip"
1972 O'Hara, U.S. Treasury Det. Ed Pierce Episode: "Operation: Deathwatch"
1972 The Sixth Sense Roger Carver Episode: "The House That Cried Murder"
1972 Cannon Ed Barrows Episode: "Bad Cats and Sudden Death"
1972 Search Hugh Emery Episode: "One of Our Probes Is Missing"
1972–1977 M*A*S*H Maj. Frank Burns 120 episodes
1975 Kolchak: The Night Stalker Captain Jonas Episode: "Chopper"
1975 Rickles Maj. Frank Burns TV movie
1977 Calling Doctor Storm, M. D. Dr. Jim Storm TV movie
1977 The Rockford Files Dr. Eric Albach Episode: "A Deadly Maze"
1978 Barnaby Jones Tom Watkins Episode: "Deadly Sanctuary"
1978–1979 Grandpa Goes to Washington Maj. Gen. Kevin Kelley 7 episodes
1979 Supertrain Jack Nordoff Episode: "And a Cup of Kindness Too"
1979 CHiPs Carlin 2 episodes
1979 A Christmas for Boomer Jack TV movie
1979–1981 The Love Boat Ty Younger / Lou Hayman 4 episodes
1980 Lou Grant Thatcher Episode: "Sting"
1980–1982 Fantasy Island 'Joe' Jonofoceles Armeniums Aristofeles / Jerome Pepper / Fred Webster 3 episodes
1981 Aloha Paradise Episode: "Turn Me On/Treasure Hunt/A Child Will Become Father"
1981 The Jeffersons Lyle Block 2 episodes
1981 Checking In Lyle Block 4 episodes
1981 The Girl, the Gold Watch & Dynamite Wesley Reins TV movie
1982 Herbie, the Love Bug Randy Bigelow 4 episodes
1983 Night Partners Chief John Wilson TV movie
1984 Paper Dolls Grayson Carr 6 episodes
1985 Detective in the House Mel Episode: "Gelt by Association"
1985 Misfits of Science Gen. Theil Episode: "Deep Freeze (Pilot)"
1985 Airwolf Clinton Maxwell Episode: "And a Child Shall Lead"
1985 Riptide Edgar Harrison Episode: "Does Not Compute"
1985–1995 Murder, She Wrote Paige Corbin / Lt. Steven Ames / Prof. Kent Radford 3 episodes
1987 The Law & Harry McGraw Andrew Paxton Episode: "Old Heroes Never Lie"
1988 Starting from Scratch Brandon Shepherd Episode: "James' Brother"
1991 Night Court Dr. Nagelson Episode: "To Sleep, No More"
1991 Dream On Uncle Danny Episode: "Toby or Not Toby"
1992 A Different World Sen. Hutchinson Episode: "Special Delivery"
1992–1993 Nurses Himself / Mr. Garrett 2 episodes
1993 Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman Grover Cleveland Episode: "Neverending Battle"
1997 Fast Track Rusty Phillips Episode: "Kennedy Gets a Ride"
1999 Crucible of Empire: The Spanish-American War Theodore Roosevelt (voice) documentary
1999 Great Performances Everett Baker Episode: "Crazy for You"


  1. ^ According to the State of California. California Birth Index, 1905–1995. Center for Health Statistics, California Department of Health Services, Sacramento, California. Searchable at Family Tree Legends
  2. ^ "Larry Linville Biography (1939–2000)". Film Reference. Retrieved 2011-12-10.
  3. ^ Basofin, Pete (August 21, 2011). "In History's Spotlight: Larry Linville". The Sacramento Bee. Archived from the original on July 26, 2013. Retrieved July 20, 2013.
    • a "Born in Ojai, Linville moved to Sacramento and graduated from El Camino High School." — ¶ 2.
  4. ^ Cole, Gloria (August 14, 1995). "Linville travels far from 'M*A*S*H'". United Press International. Retrieved April 21, 2018.
  5. ^ "'M*A*S*H' co-star shaken by Linville's death". Las Vegas Sun. April 14, 2000. Retrieved April 21, 2018.
  6. ^ Tennis, Joe (June 10, 2013). "Barter Theatre has 80th birthday". Bristol Herald Courier. Retrieved April 21, 2018.
  7. ^ Wampler, Angela (February 25, 2007). "Robert Porterfield's Legacy". A! Magazine for the Arts. Archived from the original on July 30, 2016. Retrieved April 21, 2018.
  8. ^ Sherman, Dale (2016). "16". M.A.S.H. FAQ: Everything Left to Know About the Best Care Anywhere. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Applause Books. ISBN 9781480355897.
  9. ^ "Actor Larry Linville Dies at 60". The Washington Post. April 12, 2000. Retrieved April 21, 2018.
  10. ^ Bobbin, Jay (May 30, 1999). "- Has David Letterman ever made a..." Chicago Tribune. Retrieved April 21, 2018.
  11. ^ a b "Larry Linville, 'M*A*S*H' Star, Dies at 60". Los Angeles Times. April 11, 2000. Retrieved April 21, 2018.
  12. ^ Martin, Douglas (April 12, 2000). "Larry Linville, TV Actor, 60; Officious Major of 'M*A*S*H'". The New York Times. Retrieved April 21, 2018.
  13. ^ Jelinek, Pauline (June 15, 1997). "The Real-Life MASH Unit Celebrates Its Final Episode". Los Angeles Times.
  14. ^ a b "'M*A*S*H' actor Linville dead at 60". CNN. April 11, 2000. Retrieved April 21, 2018.
  15. ^ "Hefner Honor Passes Council Committee". Chicago Tribune. April 11, 2000. Retrieved April 21, 2018.

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