Think back on the last time you did something for eleven consecutive years. Even in the course of a long, healthy lifetime, eleven years is a considerable amount of time. Surely, the time and energy spent doing anything for that length of time would cause some sort of emotional connection with the task at hand.
While that may be true for the rest of us, initially Alan Alda was speechless when it came to the end of his run as Hawkeye Pierce on TV’s M*A*S*H. It wasn’t for lack of opportunity; by the time M*A*S*H wrapped production, it was one of the most successful shows of all time, and the television press was rabid for any factoid they could get from the show’s star.
After M*A*S*H‘s conclusion, Alda was pressed for his feelings regarding whether he’d miss his most iconic character, Hawkeye Pierce. Initially he had four words on the matter for the Associated Press: “I don’t think so.”
Sometimes it takes some time to process an event as momentous as the conclusion of one’s historically popular war show. After some careful consideration, Alda reapproached the question, mulling over the weight of the show’s ending. His emotional connection to the show, according to him, is best symbolized by a pair of combat boots that Hawkeye wore. “I took the boots home with me, and I look at them and I get touched. There’s something that I’ll miss about that character.”
“When I finished shooting, I really was churned up,” Alda told the AP in February, 1983. “That’s partly why it’s been hard for me to find time to talk about it, because I really don’t want to talk about it.”
Regardless of his feelings for Hawkeye, one thing was immediately clear to Alda when M*A*S*H concluded: It would be quite some time before he committed to another long-running television series.