Dr. Lin Tam
Lin Tam-rainbow bridge
Dr. Lin Tam, the Chinese army doctor whose sense of humor saves the day in "Rainbow Bridge" (Season 3)
M*A*S*H character
Vital information
Rank: Doctor. People's Liberation Army (China)
Job/Role in Unit: Chinese doctor who offers to hand over some injured U.S. soldiers to the 4077th MASH so that they can get better treatment.
Hair Color: Black
Eye Color: Black
Height: 5'8"
Weight: 155 lbs.
Family/Personal Information
Born: Not Mentioned
Birthplace: Not Mentioned
Nationality/Race: Chinese/Asian
Spouse(s): not mentioned
Relatives/Children: not mentioned
First appeared in: "Rainbow Bridge" (Season 3)
Last appeared in: N/A, one-time appearance
Appeared on/or in: M*A*S*H
Played by: Mako in Guest appearance

Dr. Lin Tam was a doctor of the Chinese People's Liberation Army who made a one-time appearance in the Season 3 episode of the CBS-TV series M*A*S*H titled "Rainbow Bridge". The part of the Dr Lin Tam was played by Mako, a Japanese actor who appeared in a total of 4 episodes, including this.

About Dr. Lin TamEdit

The Chinese have contacted the 4077th MASH and offers to hand over 9 wounded U.S. soldiers who need more medical attention than the Chinese can provide. After some hesitation, Henry Blake decides to take up the offer, and so Hawkeye, Trapper, Frank, Klinger and Radar make a trip to the rendezvous at Rainbow Bridge, 50 miles behind enemy lines. Arriving there, they meet Dr. Lin Tam who is in charge of the hand over. After an exchange of greetings and introductions, Hawkeye compliments Dr. Lin on his good English. It turns out that he is a graduate of the University of Illinois, although he doesn't seem to know Henry Blake.

The MASH personnel are about to collect the injured G.I.s when Dr. Lin shouts some orders in Chinese and the Chinese guards cock their weapons. Unfortunately this causes Frank to panic and pull out a small concealed pistol which Margaret had given him. This angers Dr. Lin because the explicit condition given to the U.S. side was that they should be unarmed: "Is it not enough that your planes harass us day and night? It makes it impossible for me to treat my own people. We make a civilized gesture, and you respond by coming here with a gun ready to shoot us down."

Dr. Lin calls off the hand over but Hawkeye appeals to him not to go back on his decent gesture just because of Frank's silliness. Hawkeye and Trapper made Frank show his weapon (a Colt Model 1908 Vest Pocket) and surrender it to the Chinese, but Lin Tam bursts into laughter when he sees the tiny gun. "What the hell is that?" he asks in disbelief. "Comes in a box of Cracker Jacks. It's also a whistle," Hawkeye tells him. Fortunately, Lin Tam's sense of humor prevails and the hand over proceeds and he doesn't even bother to confiscate Frank's weapon.

Research notes/Fun factsEdit

  • Lin Tam spent several years in Chicago at the University of Illinois, probably during the 1930s. Firearms must have been common there--shouldn't he have seen a Colt Model 1908 Vest Pocket before? Likewise the North Korean Surgeon in The Korean Surgeon (TV series episode) also graduated from the University of Chicago Medical School.
  • M*A*S*H has sometimes been criticised for its caricatured portrayal of Asians but Lin Tam's character stands as a strong rebuttal. He comes across as a decent person, professional, educated, with a sense of humor and speaks good English with no hint of that exaggerated accent sometimes common in Hollywood portrayals of Asians. As a doctor, he is just trying to do his best for his own side, probably under more difficult circumstances than the American doctors at the 4077th MASH.