Connie Izay R.N. (born November 29, 1928 and died August 21, 1982) appeared as Lieutenant Connie in three Season 8 episodes of M*A*S*H. However, her greater contribution to the series was probably as its technical adviser from 1977 to 1982. After she died in 1982 of breast cancer, an entire episode, "As Time Goes By", was dedicated to her memory, making her the only person ever to receive such an honour.
Born on November 29, 1928 in Pennsylvania, USA as Constance Blanche Ruscetti, Connie trained as a nurse and lived in Albuquerque where she met and married Victor Izay and had three children, Gregory, Victoria and Stephen. In 1958 Connie acted in "The Moon is Blue" with the New Vic Players, a stage play directed by her husband. Later she moved to California with her husband where her husband began a screen career as a bit and character actor in Westerns and TV series such as "Gunsmoke", "Marcus Welby, M.D." and "The Waltons".
Connie started out as a first-aid nurse at Universal Studios. She later moved up to be a technical adviser on medical/nursing matters for "Marcus Welby, M.D." and also acted as various nurse characters for 14 episodes. There was no precedent at that time to credit her work as a technical adviser so she never received an on-screen credit for her work. When the Marcus Welby series ended, she moved to 20th Century Fox and became technical adviser for M*A*S*H from 1977 onwards but did not receive any on-screen credit for this work either, despite the intervention of Alan Alda on her behalf. However she did receive credits for two appearances as nurse characters in Season 8. Her other screen work included playing a nurse in "The Man from Atlantis" which provides a rare close-up image of her (as seen in the info box). In MASH, she is, unfortunately only ever seen in a surgical mask.
Her work on "Marcus Welby, M.D." and "M*A*S*H" involved going through scripts and checking for goofs and penciling in correction pronunciation of medical terms She would also be on hand to advise on acting mistakes such as when a doctor holds an x-ray upside down. In "M*A*S*H" she would be regularly called upon to tie up bandages for simulated war wounds. Speaking during an interview, she related how she felt personally responsible for accurate depiction of medical procedures on TV. She had continued to work in a hospital in Burbank and had found that some patients swore by Marcus Welby, and goofs could have potentially disastrous results. Connie also worked as an adviser for TV series and shows such as "Bonanza", "Airport" and "Starsky and Hutch".
Connie apparently became very well-liked by the "M*A*S*H" cast and crew. Speaking at an interview, Mike Farrell related that her death from breast cancer in 1982 hit all of them very hard and classed this as one of his worst memories on "M*A*S*H".
- ↑ Albuquerque Journal, May 23 1965, page 18
- ↑ Albuquerque Journal, July 24 1958, page 8
- ↑ Norman Hudis, No Laughing Matter, Andrews UK Limited, 2011
- ↑ The Argus of Fremont California, May 15 1972, page 9
- ↑ The Ottawa Journal, March 15 1980, page 121
- ↑ Interview with Mike Farrell
Note: The newspaper references can be found at newspapers.com but a subscription is necessary to view anything more than thumbnails. The Hudis book can be found at Google books.
- Connie Izay at the Internet Movie Database