Today marks the 39th anniversary of the original CBS broadcast of “Abyssinia, Henry” on Tuesday, March 18th, 1975. It instantly became one of the most memorable episodes of the series and, many would argue, in television history. If you haven’t seen the episode, stop reading this and go watch it immediately.
Everyone else, continue reading.
“Abyssinia, Henry” featured the final appearances of both McLean Stevenson and Wayne Rogers. It was well known prior to the episode airing that Stevenson was leaving the series. Back in 2011, I looked into whether or not the shocking ending of the episode was a tightly kept secret or spoiled by the media. The short answer: if you read the right newspaper columns and/or entertainment magazines, you might have known what was going to happen.
Also in 2011, I examined the urban legend that McLean Stevenson appeared on a raft in an episode of The Carol Burnett Show shortly after “Abyssinia, Henry” was aired. To date, no conclusive proof has been found that the cameo appearance actually occurred.
As we celebrate this anniversary, let’s salute the late McLean Stevenson, who made Henry Blake so beloved that the character’s death has made such an impact on so many for so long.