Hike to old ‘MASH’ set launches fundraiser for California parks
Supporters of California’s parklands called on Hollywood’s star power Saturday to kick off a fundraising effort for cash-strapped state parks.
Parks enthusiasts led a hike to the Santa Monica Mountains film set used for the “MASH” movie and television series to draw attention to a two-day film festival planned for next weekend.
Five classic movies that were filmed in various state parks will be screened in studio theaters at Paramount Pictures and Twentieth Century Fox.
Those making their way to the “MASH” set at Malibu Creek State Park in Calabasas were shown where various tents that made up the fictional 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital were located for the 1970 movie and the 1972-83 series.
“That’s where the hospital was. Right over there was the Swamp; the latrine was back over there,” explained actor Jeff Maxwell, who portrayed Igor the camp cook in the series.
Behind him was a replica of the Korean War medevac camp’s iconic signpost pointing the way to Boston, Seoul, Coney Island, San Francisco, Burbank and other cities.
The rusty hulks of a vintage Army ambulance and military Jeep left behind by the “MASH” production company stood in the middle of it all.
Maxwell, of Alhambra, explained how actors and crew members would shiver in the 6:30 a.m. cold and then would be baking in the afternoon heat at the remote “MASH” set.
Brian Simson, a medical equipment repairman from Ventura, came with a cookbook written by Maxwell. “I bought it this week online. I’m going to get him to autograph it,” he said, flipping through “Secrets of the ‘MASH’ Mess.”
The rugged mountains that surround the filming site were immediately familiar to fans of the show.
“This is fantastic. I certainly recognize the landscape. I’m elated this is available for those of us who became adults while the show was on,” said Bill Kormany, a corporate medical director who lives in Moorpark.
The hilltop used as the show’s helicopter landing pad was recognized by Daniel Fraser, a Burbank graphic designer. His wife, Cathy, brought him on the hike to celebrate their 11th wedding anniversary.
“I grew up watching the show,” Daniel Fraser said as the couple’s three children — Michael, 5; Ellie, 7; and Liam, 10 — climbed into the old ambulance.
Brian Rooney, a West Los Angeles “MASH” fan who helped state officials restore the set’s old look in 2008, said the film site is the most famous spot in any state park.
“People in England don’t know about the Hearst Castle, but they know about where ‘MASH’ was filmed,” said Rooney, who led Saturday’s hike.
Carolyn DeVinney, a Culver City resident who is a trustee of the California State Parks Foundation, said money raised by the hike and from ticket sales to the upcoming film festival will be used to help support the parks’ operation.
“Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi” will be screened Nov. 6 along with the “MASH” movie and two episodes of the TV show.
Actors Mark Hamill, Elliott Gould, William Christopher and Maxwell will take part in question-and-answer periods following the various screenings.
The 1960 film “Spartacus” and 1968’s “Planet of the Apes” will be shown Nov. 7. Film archivist Robert O’Neil will discuss how he restored “Spartacus” and actor Lou Wagner and others connected with production of “Planet of the Apes” will speak, foundation officials said.
Single-screening tickets will be priced at $10 and passes for three shows are available for $25.
“We’ve chosen films that show off the uniqueness of the state parks,” said Manny Grace, a Burbank entertainment lawyer who is chairman of the foundation’s film series.
“It’s important that we promote the symbiotic relationship between motion pictures and state parks,” Grace said.
The 41-year-old foundation has raised some $161 million to support the park system, he said.