If you watch the movie M*A*S*H you can see it almost begged to be a television series. It wasn't a movie with a central plot, but rather "episodes" out of the lives of the surgeons at the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital.
Larry Gelbart must have seen that as well, for he took the 1970 film and developed it into a TV series that debuted in 1972. A lot of people don't know that the show nearly died in its Sunday night 8:30 slot during its first year. But it survived. Boy, did it survive. M*A*S*H is like I Love Lucy or The Andy Griffith Show or Star Trek -- timeless with legions of fans who "remember when" as well as discover it for the first time because they were not even born when it aired originally.
Larry Gelbart died Friday, September 11 at home in Los Angeles of cancer.
Although he was quite successful in his writing for other things (winning a Tony Award for A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Oscar nominations for Oh God! and Tootsie), he will probably always be remembered for his work on M*A*S*H. And that's certainly something to be proud of.
Larry Gelbart was 81.