AFM Flashback: 'M*A*S*H's Last Shoot in Malibu Creek Broke Records

PHOTOFEST
Stars Alan Alda (left) and Mike Farrell on the set of 'M*A*S*H.'

The show’s final episode aired on Feb.  28, 1983 and ran for two and a half hours with 125  million viewers.

Nestled in the Santa Monica Mountains, the 6,000-acre Malibu Creek State Park has served as a backdrop for thousands of movie and TV scenes reaching all the way back to 1927, when it stood in as the Scottish Highlands for a Lillian Gish movie called Annie Laurie. Planet of the Apes (1968) and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) also shot there. But for visitors, it’s only M*A*S*H that matters.

The CBS series, coming on the heels of the 1970 Robert Altman film, filmed there from 1972-83. The location remains open to the public, as long as you pay the $12 park entry fee and are up for a 5-mile hike. You’re rewarded with props and sets from the show, including an Army medical truck (you can get inside to snap selfies) and the iconic signpost tracking distances to locations like Coney Island and Burbank (7,038 miles and 5,610 miles, respectively, from where the show’s medical unit would have been stationed during the Korean War).

The series’ final episode, the 2 1/2- hour "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen," aired on Feb. 28, 1983. A record 125 million viewers tuned in. (There is one legend that it broke the plumbing in New York City when everyone flushed their toilet after the final credits.) It remains the seventh-highest- rated TV broadcast in history, bested only by six Super Bowls.

This story first appeared in The Hollywood Reporter's Nov. 8 daily issue at the American Film Market.