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Subject: Archive: H. Richard Hornberger, aka Richard Hooker, Nov. 4, 1997

Wrote "MASH"
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Date Posted: Saturday, November 04, 04:37:35pm

H. Richard Hornberger, a surgeon who wrote the novel ''M*A*S*H,'' the inspiration for the film and long-running television series of the same name, died on Tuesday at a hospital in Portland, Me. He was 73.

The cause was leukemia, said his son William.

Dr. Hornberger spent most of his life as a thoracic surgeon in small towns on the Maine coast, but his experiences as a captain in the Army Medical Corps during the Korean War led him to write three novels after returning from combat.

He worked for 12 years on the first, ''M*A*S*H,'' which was rejected by many publishers, his son said, before William Morrow issued the book in 1968. Rejection stopped there. The 1970 movie, directed by Robert Altman from a screenplay by Ring Lardner Jr., was the third-highest grossing film that year and spawned the CBS series, which ran from 1972 until 1983 and was one of the most popular shows in television history.

Dr. Hornberger modeled the character of Capt. Benjamin Franklin (Hawkeye) Pierce after himself, his son said. Partly for that reason, he disliked the television series and almost never watched it.

''He liked the movie because he thought it followed his original intent very closely,'' William Hornberger said. ''But my father was a political conservative, and he did not like the liberal tendencies that Alan Alda portrayed Hawkeye Pierce as having.''

''My father didn't write an anti-war book,'' he added. ''It was a humorous account of his work, with serious parts thrown in about the awful kind of work it was, and how difficult and challenging it was.''

Dr. Hornberger, who lived in Bremen, Me., about 60 miles northeast of Portland, and practiced in Waterville, Me., used the pseudonym Richard Hooker in his writing.

After ''M*A*S*H'' -- an acronym for Mobile Army Surgical Hospital -- came ''M*A*S*H Goes to Maine'' and ''M*A*S*H Mania.'' Both concerned the adventures of doctors who had been together in Korea and then came home to work in coastal Maine -- ''in thinly disguised fictional towns recognizable to those of us who live here,'' his son said.
Born in Trenton, Dr. Hornberger was a graduate of Bowdoin College and Cornell University Medical School.

In addition to his son William, of Bremen, Dr. Hornberger is survived by his wife, Priscilla Storer Hornberger; another son, James, also of Bremen; two daughters, Karen Hutchins of Waldoboro, Me., and Anne Cannon of Memphis, and three grandchildren.

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