I’m slightly embarrassed to say I’ve never actually watched an episode of “M*A*S*H” — but I hear the TV show was very popular in its time, and has many fans even now. For serious “M*A*S*H” fans and nature lovers, this weekend offers a unique opportunity: to take a hike to the site in Malibu Creek State Park where the show was shot — with Jeff Maxwell, best known for playing Pvt. Igor Straminsky, the Cook!
Restored just two years ago, the “M*A*S*H” site has paraphernalia from the show on permanent display. About 500 visitors a month hike there to see relics of a vintage ambulance and jeep used on the show, a replica of the “M*A*S*H” signpost, and informational displays.
But for both frequent visitors and newbies, this weekend’s public hikes should be educational — since they’ll be led by Brian Rooney, a volunteer and docent at Malibu Creek State Park who restored the M*A*S*H site, as well as Ranger Mike Malone of the National Park Service. And of course, Jeff Maxwell will be there too.
To see Jeff, make sure to sign up for the 10 am hike, happening Sat., Oct. 30 at Malibu Creek State Park. A 1 pm hike (sans Jeff) is also an option for late risers. Either hike will last about 25 minutes, and costs $25 per person. Interested hikers should reserve a spot now, as the each hike will be capped at 50 M*A*S*H fans.
The hikes comes just a few days before Californians will vote on Prop 21, an initiative that, if passed, will add $18 to vehicle registration fees to provide much-needed funding for state parks. Of course, M*A*S*H fans needn’t be Prop 21 supporters to attend — but the hikes are organized by California State Parks Foundation, a nonprofit and major proponent of Prop 21.
In fact, the hikes are part of a larger annual fundraiser for the Foundation called California State Parks Starring in Hollywood Films, which gives Angelenos the chance to watch on the big screen iconic films that were shot in state parks — and meet some of the stars in the films. Aside from the hike, however, all Fundraiser events will happen post-election, after the fate of Prop 21′s decided.
This year, the films screened will be “Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi,” “Spartacus,” and “Planet of the Apes” — as well as both “MASH” the film and two TV episodes of “M*A*S*H.” And among the celebs participating are Mark Hamill, a.k.a. Luke Skywalker to “Star Wars” fans, Elliott Gould, a.k.a. Trapper John in Robert Altman’s “MASH” — plus many members of the cast and crew from TV’s “M*A*S*H.”
The screenings happen Sat., Nov. 6 at The Paramount Theater at Paramount Studios, and Sun., Nov. 7 at the The Darryl F. Zanuck Theater at Twentieth Century Fox Studios. Check out the full schedule on California State Parks Foundation’s website to see who’ll be at which screening — and if you’d like to catch the show, buy your tickets before they run out. Single-screening tickets cost $10 ($8 for children 12 and under), while 3-screening passes cost $25 ($18 for children) — and include free popcorn and parking.
Update: Tune in to KPCC on Friday afternoon (Oct. 29) to hear KPCC's Alex Cohen delve into the history of this park-friendly film series.
Photo of the reconstruction of the iconic sign post from TV’s “MASH” in Malibu Creek State Park (Brian Rooney)