Maxwell Klinger

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Corporal (later Sergeant) Maxwell Q. Klinger is a fictional character from the M*A*S*H television series played by American actor Jamie Farr. A Lebanese-American hailing from Toledo, Ohio (like Farr himself), Klinger serves as an orderly/corpsman (and later company clerk) assigned to the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital in [usually] Uijeongbu during the Korean War. The character's original defining characteristic is his attempts to gain a Section 8 psychiatric discharge from the army, by habitually wearing women's clothing and engaging in other "crazy" stunts. He later gives up his discharge attempts and is promoted from the rank of corporal to sergeant during the course of the TV series.

Contents

Character development

Klinger first appeared in the episode "Chief Surgeon Who?". In that episode's original script, Corporal Klinger was written as an effeminate gay man. However, the writers subsequently decided that it would be more interesting to have Klinger be heterosexual, but wear dresses in an attempt to gain a Section 8 discharge.[1]

Series writer Larry Gelbart stated during the M*A*S*H* 30th Anniversary Reunion special that Klinger's antics were inspired by stories of Lenny Bruce attempting to dodge his own military service by dressing himself as a WAVES member.

Later in the program's development, the writers of M*A*S*H gave Klinger characteristics derived from actor Jamie Farr, including the character's background as a native of Toledo, Ohio.

Originally introduced as a bit character in the early first season episode "Chief Surgeon Who?" as a simple gag of a soldier who wanted out of the Army and was trying to fake his way to a "Section 8" medical discharge, Klinger was enjoyed by the producers and audience so much that he became a member of the regular cast.

Klinger was the first main character introduced on M*A*S*H not to have appeared in either Richard Hooker's original M*A*S*H novel or the subsequent film.

Klinger's Middle initial is Q, but no one knows what the Q stands for.

Background

Klinger is proud of his family, and of his hometown, which he regularly mentions (including references to Tony Packo's Cafe, a real-life local attraction). He is also an enthusiastic supporter of the Toledo Mud Hens, a real-life minor-league baseball team. In one episode he gets a month at KP duty after he hits Sgt. Zale for making a disparaging remark about the team.

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