Alabama has an interesting M*A*S*H connection, in addition to Wayne Rogers

The M*A*S*H television series is one of the most beloved shows of all time. The characters, the writing, the humor, the emotion - this show had it all.

Did you know there is an Alabama connection to the series? Other than actor Wayne Rogers, aka Trapper John, who, you probably know, was a Birmingham native.

This connection is William E. Butterworth III, a Korean War veteran who spent years in Alabama stationed at Fort Rucker and later living in Fairhope, wrote 12 novelizations of the M*A*S*H series.

Don’t recognize the name? Perhaps you know him by the pen name W.E.B. Griffin, or one of his 11 other pseudonyms. The prolific author has written more than 160 novels, including numerous military thrillers, as well as young adult novels.

Two of the MASH novels written by Alabamian William E. Butterworth, aka W.E.B. Griffin.

Butterworth was born in 1929 in New Jersey and grew up in New York and Philadelphia. He was called to serve in Korea as a combat correspondent. His website says, “he earned the Combat Infantry Badge as a combat correspondent and later served as acting X Corps (Group) information officer under Lieutenant General White. On his release from active duty in 1953, Mr. Griffin was appointed Chief of the Publications Division of the U.S. Army Signal Aviation Test & Support Activity at Fort Rucker, Alabama.”

He later moved to Fairhope, Alabama, to become a full-time writer. His website says he “currently divides his time between the Gulf Coast and Buenos Aires.” In 1982, he was inducted into the Alabama Academy of Distinguished Authors.

Two of the MASH novels written by Alabamian William E. Butterworth, aka W.E.B. Griffin.

The MASH books were credited to William E. Butterworth “with Richard Hooker,” a former surgeon in the Army Medical Corps. Born Hiester Richard Hornberger Jr. (1924-1997), the former surgeon wrote using the name Richard Hooker. The M*A*S*H movie and series were based on Hornberger’s experiences in Korea, which were chronicled in his 1968 novel “MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors” written with W.C. Heinz. Butterworth did not work on the first three novels.

MASHwiki.com says Hornberger stopped writing MASH books after the first three; Butterworth wrote the other 12 but Hooker’s name remained on the covers.

The books written by Butterworth were entitled “MASH Goes to…,” including 12 places: New Orleans, Paris, London, Vienna, San Francisco, Morocco, Miami, Las Vegas, Hollywood, Texas, Moscow and Montreal.

Why so many pen names?

An article in the Encyclopedia of Alabama by Joshua Shiver explains, “The origin of these pen names came about in the 1960s and 1970s, when he was writing three or four books per year. Because libraries were big purchasers with limited budgets, he used pseudonyms because he believed that if librarians saw a second or third book with his legal name on it in a given year they would think they had already bought the book. His most famous pen name, W.E.B. Griffin, arose in the early 1980s. In 1982, he had published the serious novel The Lieutenants as well as 11 novelizations of the television series M*A*S*H under his own name. Realizing that he would be publishing sequels to ‘The Lieutenants in what would become his Brotherhood of War series, he decided to use the name W.E.B. Griffin because he did not want readers to buy his serious novels expecting works of satire like the MASH books.”

In addition to W. E. Butterworth, William E. Butterworth, or William E. Butterworth, III and W.E.B Griffin, he wrote under the pen names: Alex Baldwin, Webb Beech, Walker E. Blake, Jack Dugan, John Kevin Dugan, Eden Hughes, James McM. Douglas, Allison Mitchell, Edmund O. Scholefield, Blakely St. James and Patrick J. Williams.

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