|Oliver Harmon "Spearchucker" Jones|
Former professional football player and actor Timmy Brown played Spearchucker Jones in the first five episodes of the M*A*S*H CBS-TV series in 1972.
|Rank||Captain (O-3), U.S. Army Reserve|
|Job/Role in unit:||Surgeon at the 4077th M*A*S*H|
|Home||Same as birthplace|
|Birthplace:||Chicago, Illinois, U.S.|
|First appeared in:||"Pilot (TV series episode)" (Season 1)|
|Last appeared in:||"Germ Warfare" (Season 1)|
| Series/Film |
|M*A*S*H (TV series) / MASH (film)|
|Played by:||Fred Williamson, film. Timothy Brown, television series|
Oliver Harmon "Spearchucker" Jones was a surgeon who appears in the MASH novel by Richard Hooker, the MASH movie and also in the M*A*S*H television series. He was portrayed by Fred Williamson in the movie and by Timothy Brown (who had played the corpsman Corporal Judson in the film) in the television series. Spearchucker appears in six episodes during the early part of Season 1 of the series.
Dr. "Spearchucker" Jones was one of the original Swampmen, along with Trapper, Hawkeye, and Frank Burns. The TV show producers decided to drop the character after the first few episodes deciding they wouldn't be able to write enough meaningful episodes for Spearchucker if they were concentrating on Hawkeye and Trapper, and reportedly because they were made aware, or at least heard from some sources, that in reality, the United States Army had no African-American surgeons in the Korean Conflict, at least none which were stationed to a MASH unit.
Spearchucker in the MASH novelEdit
In the MASH novel, the Spearchucker character appears in Chapter 12. Here his full name is given as Oliver Wendell "Spearchucker" Jones. To deal with boredom, Hawkeye, Trapper and Duke Forrest discuss putting together a football team. Hawkeye suggests bringing Spearchucker into the team.
Hawkeye had roomed with Spearchucker at the 72nd Evac Hospital and had found out that besides being a neurosurgeon, Spearchucker had played football during medical school to earn some extra money and had been signed up by the Philadelphia Eagles. However very few people knew about this.
So they persuade Henry to request for a neurosurgeon, specifically Spearchucker, for the 4077th as a ringer for their football team. Spearchucker helps prepare the team and eventually plays a key role in strategizing their victory over the 72nd Evac hospital.
In the book, just like in the movie, Spearchucker reveals that the nickname "Spearchucker", ordinarily a racial slur, referred in this case to his javelin-throwing prowess.
Spearchucker in the MASH movieEdit
In the MASH movie, Spearchucker's full name becomes Oliver Harmon Jones. The original screenplay lists his backstory much as it was given in the novel. However in the movie dialogue, this is covered much more briefly, and he is described as playing for the 49ers not the Eagles. His role in the football game is the same as described in the book.
The film also depicts Spearchucker as a particularly skilled neurosurgeon and this, together with the experience of playing football together, helps Duke Forrest overcome his racial prejudices and the two become friends at the end, shaking hands when it is time for Duke to go back stateside.
Spearchucker in the M*A*S*H TV seriesEdit
Timothy Brown who portrayed Spearchucker in the TV series had been a professional football player. Perhaps there had been an intention to pursue the football theme in the M*A*S*H episodes but in the end not much is made of this. Spearchucker is only seen playing football once, with Radar, Boone and a few others at the beginning of the "Pilot" episode. He later attends the raffle party with Ginger (he's the one in the Samurai helmet).
In "Chief Surgeon Who", we are reminded that he is a neurosurgeon when he tells Hawkeye in the O.R.: "outside of the brain I'm dead". Hawkeye gives him advice on how to deal with a pancreatic injury which contradicts Franks, much to Frank's annoyance. Later, when General Barker is searching the camp for Henry, he stumbles into a tent when Spearchucker is playing strip dominoes with Ginger.
In "The Moose", Spearchucker has his most significant role. Here he helps Hawkeye and Trapper "demoosify" Young Hi and teach her independence and self-confidence. He tells her that when she meets people, she must not look down. She must look them in the eye and not back off. We are all the same, he says to her. Young Hi looks up and says he is not the same as her--because he needs a shave!
Spearchucker also gets a lot of screentime, if not a lot of lines in "Henry Please Come Home". He is seen in the O.R. with everyone else at the beginning of the episode, he is there faking the callisthenics with Hawkeye and Trapper after Frank has taken over command of the 4077th. Later is in the Swamp with Hawkeye and Trapper trying to stop Frank from confiscating the still. He then joins the gathering of MASH personnel in the mess tent to discuss how rid of Frank. During this meeting, Hawkeye suggests that the solution is to bring back Henry. Spearchucker agrees, saying "He was one of us."
In "I Hate a Mystery", Spearchucker starts the episode playing poker with Hawkeye and Trapper. Later, following the spate of thefts, he is among the MASH personnel who are summoned by Hawkeye to the mess tent for an Agatha Christie style gathering of suspects. Hawkeye pins possible motives for the crimes on various people but Spearchucker is never mentioned although he is in the gathering.
The last appearance of Spearchucker as broadcast is in "Germ Warfare" where he helps the North Korean P.O.W. settle into Hawkeye's cot in the Swamp after Frank wants him out of Post-Op. Later, when the doctors suspect that Frank may have hepatitis, he helps to trick Frank into drinking plenty of beer to get a urine sample from him.