40th Anniversary of Abyssinia, Henry

Time sure flies. It was forty years ago today that CBS first broadcast “Abyssinia, Henry” and wrapped up the third season of M*A*S*H. It originally aired on Tuesday, March 18th, 1975.It was a milestone episode for the series and for television history.

I imagine most everyone visiting MASH4077TV.com already knows what happened during the episode but if you don’t for some reason, this would be a good time to stop reading and go watch it.

I’ve written a lot about “Abyssinia, Henry” over the years. In December 2013 I reviewed the episode for my Episode Spotlight initiative, criticizing only the length of the party scene (too long) and Henry’s final review of the troops (too short).

In July 2011, I attempted to determine whether the shocking ending of the episode was a tightly kept secret or spoiled by the media. It was well known prior to the episode airing that Stevenson was leaving the series and there is evidence to suggest that if you were reading the right newspaper columns and/or entertainment magazines in late 1974 or early 1975, you may have known what was going to happen at the end of the episode.

In June 2011, I took a look at the urban legend that says McLean Stevenson appeared on a raft in an episode of The Carol Burnett Show shortly after “Abyssinia, Henry” was aired. So far, no conclusive proof has been found that the cameo appearance actually occurred, although a number of people recall seeing such a scene.

Finally, in October 2010 I ran through all of the music heard in “Abyssinia, Henry” including the solemn version of “Suicide is Painless” played over a montage of scenes featuring Henry right prior to the closing credits.

If you were watching “Abyssinia, Henry” four decades ago, hit the comments with your thoughts. Was it a huge shock? Was it all everyone talked about around the water cooler the next day?

5 Comments

  • Crabapple Cove says:

    Wow, can’t believe that was 40 years ago. I don’t remember if I saw it live or not, Season 3 was about the time when I first started watching the show “live” and I doubt that I saw every episode (I was only 9-10 at the time).

    March 18 seems like an early date for a season ending episode. Maybe they didn’t stretch the TV season until May sweeps like they do now?

  • Joe says:

    I remember the week that the episode was on I was really mad at my sister because she read somewhere how it was going to end (she read it in TV GUIDE) and I told her I didn’t want to know but she told me anyway LOL
    Turned out however that she was wrong-she said he was killed when his plane crashed in the ocean and as we all know, that wasn’t it. (to this day I don’t know if she purposely told me the wrong thing or if she read it wrong or what)

  • Joe says:

    for some reason, my father would always laugh at the last scene when Radar walks in and announces Col. Blakes death. LOL

  • Aaron Handy III says:

    Famous last words: “You behave yourself or I’ll come back and kick your butt.” :'(

  • Mike Nielsen says:

    I loved that party scene. Especially when Radar presents Col. Blake with a brand new suit. Gary Burghoff played a hilarious drunkered Radar.
    Just knowing that these characters would see their beloved Col for the last time was special.

    “Klinger, that outfit just might get you that section 8!”

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