Richard Hooker at the original Swamp in Korea|
Richard Hooker at the original Swamp in Korea
H. Richard Hornberger|
February 1, 1924
Trenton, New Jersey, United States
November 4, 1997 (aged 73)|
|Cause of death||Leukemia|
|Place of burial||
|Other names||Richard Hooker|
Cornell Medical School
|Service/branch||United States Army|
H. Richard Hornberger (February 1, 1924 – November 4, 1997) was an American writer and surgeon, born in Trenton, New Jersey, who wrote under the pseudonym Richard Hooker. His most famous work was his novel MASH (1968), based on his experiences during the Korean War and written in collaboration with W. C. Heinz. It was later used as the basis for a critically and commercially successful movie (1970) and television series (1972–1983).
Education and military experience
Born in Trenton, New Jersey, Hornberger attended the Peddie School in Hightstown. He graduated from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, where he was an active member of the Beta Theta Pi Fraternity. He went to Cornell Medical School and after graduation, became a physician for the United States Army during the Korean War.
His experiences at the 8055th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital were the background for his novel MASH (1968), which he worked on for eleven years.
Hornberger worked eleven years on his debut novel, MASH, which was rejected by many publishers. He worked with the famed sportswriter, W.C. Heinz, to revise it. A year later, the book was acquired by William Morrow and Company.
Published under Hornberger's pseudonym, Richard Hooker, the novel was highly successful.
MASH went on to be adapted as a film by the same name, directed by Robert Altman and released in 1970, which was nominated for five Academy Awards and won an Oscar for its screenplay.
Following that, a TV series was developed, which debuted in 1972 and ran for eleven seasons. Hornberger reportedly did not like Alan Alda's portrayal of Hawkeye in the TV series. Hornberger was said to have viewed the Robert Altman movie many times, in which Pierce was played by Donald Sutherland.
According to John Baxter in A Pound of Paper: Confessions of a Book Addict, Hornberger "was so furious at having sold the film rights for only a few hundred dollars that he never again signed a copy of the book" (203).
Hornberger wrote sequels to MASH, M*A*S*H Goes to Maine (1972) and M*A*S*H Mania (1977), neither of which enjoyed the commercial success of the original. There were efforts to adapt M*A*S*H Goes to Maine into a film. His portrayals of characters were independent of those developed in the film and TV adaptations. Again, he based his work on some of his own experiences; after the war, he worked for the Veterans Administration, qualified for his surgical boards, and went into private practice.
While MASH was a fairly faithful reflection of Hornberger's service in Korea, his sequels, M*A*S*H Goes to Maine and M*A*S*H Mania, were diverse representations of the "Swamp Gang's" post-Korea activities in the fictional town of Spruce Harbor, Maine, from 1953 to the 1970s. Hornberger settled near Waterville, Maine. His two sequels are characterised by gentle humour, stereotypical local characters, and a nostalgic look at Maine and its people through Hornberger's eyes. Throughout, the "Swamp Gang" prospers, gets its own way most of the time, and generally become more conservative as the years pass. The men play golf and are sometimes thorns in the side of "summer complaints" and the local hierarchy.
Hornberger's departure from the franchise
A series of books were published under Hooker's name but ghostwritten by William E. Butterworth. The characters travel to Moscow, New Orleans, San Francisco, Paris, etc. These were hastily written to capitalize on the TV show's popularity and were of dubious literary merit. The action was transposed to the 1970s so that people such as Henry Kissinger could be lampooned, but this would have made some of the characters quite old, if the descriptions in the first book were to be believed. For instance, Hot Lips would have been in her 60s, having been described as "fortyish" in the first novel.
After the success of his book and its screen adaptations, Hornberger continued to practice as a surgeon in Waterville until his retirement in 1988. He died at the age of 73 on November 4, 1997 of leukemia.
- 01. M*A*S*H: A Novel About Three Army Doctors (1968)
- 02. M*A*S*H Goes to Maine (Jun 1971)
- 03. M*A*S*H Goes to New Orleans with William E Butterworth (Jan 1975)
- 04. M*A*S*H Goes to Paris with William E Butterworth (Jan 1975)
- 05. M*A*S*H Goes to London with William E Butterworth (June 1975)
- 06. M*A*S*H Goes to Morocco with William E Butterworth (Jan 1976)
- 07. M*A*S*H Goes to Las Vegas with William E Butterworth (Jan 1976)
- 08. M*A*S*H Goes to Hollywood with William E Butterworth (April 1976)
- 09. M*A*S*H Goes to Miami with William E Butterworth (Sep 1976)
- 10. M*A*S*H Goes to San Francisco with William E Butterworth (Nov 1976)
- 11. M*A*S*H Goes to Vienna with William E Butterworth (June 1976)
- 12. M*A*S*H Goes to Montreal with William E Butterworth (1977)
- 13. M*A*S*H Goes to Texas with William E Butterworth (Feb 1977)
- 14. M*A*S*H Goes to Moscow with William E Butterworth (Sep 1977)
- 15. M*A*S*H Mania (1977)
- Staff. Richard Hornberger (Obituary), magazine, November 20, 1997, accessed February 27, 2011. "But in an interview last year with the Peddie News, the student newspaper of his prep school in New Jersey, Hornberger said he couldn't understand why the Robert Altman-directed film and the TV series were assailed for anti-war themes during the Vietnam War."
- "H. Richard Hornberger, 73, Surgeon Behind 'M*A*S*H". The New York Times. November 7, 1997. http://www.nytimes.com/1997/11/07/arts/h-richard-hornberger-73-surgeon-behind-m-a-s-h.html.
- Literary Encyclopedia
- "H. Richard Hornberger, 73, Surgeon Behind 'M*A*S*H'", The New York Times, November 7, 1997
- Richard Hooker at the Internet Movie Database
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