Over the 11 year run of the MASH television series, a great number of actresses have played side or background roles as nurses. Some of these actresses have appeared only once while others have appeared enough times to be identified by viewers as regular members of the recurring cast. Very often they have gone uncredited or are not given character names, being credited simply as "nurse", but in almost every case, they take great pride in having been part of one of the greatest shows in the history of television.
This page documents and celebrates the many nurse characters in MASH who, because they have no name, do not have a page of their own.
In Season 3 "O.R.", Jeanne Schulherr plays an unnamed anesthetist who is assisting Hawkeye with his patient. Part way through the operation, she interjects to warn Hawkeye that there is no pulse. Hawkeye attempts to revive the patient with chest compressions and finally the desparate measure of open heart massage while tension mounts in the rest of the O.R. All the while Jeanne's character calmly ventilates the patient and reports on pulse and blood pressure until she finally announces: "92 over 60" (a near normal blood pressure). This breaks the tension in the O.R. as everyone realizes the patient has pulled through.
Jeanne Schulherr is probably better known as the actress who plays the role of Frank's wife Louise Burns (as seen in a home movie of their wedding) during the Season 3 episode "There is Nothing Like a Nurse"
In Season 6 ""The Smell of Music", Nancy Steen is credited simply as "nurse". This is a little strange as her character has a larger role in the plot and has more lines than another nurse who is credited with the name Nurse Denver (played by Lois Foraker). Steen's character first shows up outside the O.R. where Hawkeye tries to hit on her for a date. She turns him down because he is "a bit aromatic" (he has not showered for days in order to protest against Winchester's playing of the French horn). Later in the O.R. when Potter urges Hawkeye and B.J. to take a shower, Steen says "Hear hear!" Hawkeye continues to hit on her across the operating table. He suggests they stand at ten paces and talk dirty but she rejects the idea.
Later, Steen's character, on Post Op duty, is reprimanded by Potter because the suicidal patient Saunders had managed to steal and swallow a whole bottle of sleeping pills when she stepped into the supply room for a minute. After the patient is revived, Potter leaves her strict instructions that a 24 hour watch is to be maintained on Saunders and he must not to be left alone at any time.
In Season 7 "Major Ego" it is the turn of veteran recurring cast member Patricia Stevens to be given a generic credit as an unnamed "duty nurse". This would also be her final credited appearance in the entire series. In earlier seasons she had already played multiple characters such as Lieutenant Mitchell, Lieutenant Stevens, Lieutenant Brown as well as one of the many Ables. Just before this unnamed credit, she had already served four stints as the generic Nurse Baker from late Season 5 to Season 6. However it is probably incorrect to group this unnamed "duty nurse" as a continuation of her string of Bakers because from the beginning of Season 7 Jan Jorden had taken over as the "regular" player of the Baker character.
During the "Major Ego", Hawkeye is on his rounds in Post Op when he notices that there is too much blood in the chest drainage tube of one of Winchester's patients. He asks Stevens about it and she confirms that the tube had been bloody from the time she came on Post Op duty three hours before. A few hours later, Hawkeye visits again and continues to be worried. Not only is the drainage still bloody but now, according to Stevens, the patient's pulse is 110. Hawkeye decides that the patient has "blown a gasket" and instructs Stevens to prepare the patient for surgery.
Phyliis Katz made a total of 4 credited appearances on MASH but only in one episode, Season 5 "Hawkeye Get Your Gun" would she be credited as one of the many Ables. In Season 6, "What's up, Doc?" she is credited simply as nurse and plays a bit role helping to gown Hawkeye in the O.R. In Season 7, "Major Ego", she is credited as "Triage Nurse" and is shown running alongside a jeep assisting B.J. with the triage of a patient on a stretcher on the hood. Part way through she sneezes, probably due to the dust. Was this scripted? Katz would have a more substantial role in Season 7 "Inga". This time she is on Post Op duty when a patient she is with starts to choke. She calls to Winchester who is showing the Swedish Dr. Inga Halvorsen around the ward. Winchester wants an emergency tray to do a tracheotomy but Inga, recognizing that this is a case of severe allergic reaction to penicillin calls for an adrenaline injection, which is far less in intrusive. Somewhat to Winchester's annoyance, Katz responds to Inga's instructions first and then Wincheter's. Inga is proved correct. Winchester mutters his gratitude and then leaves. Afterwards he complains to Hawkeye and B.J.: "And that underhanded little nurse ... naturally they stick together ... anything to undermine the authority of a man!"
In Season 9 "Bless You, Hawkeye", Pamela Coleman has this very brief part in the opening triage scene where she says "Yes, doctor" to B.J.'s instructions. She is credited simply as "nurse". Strange that they thought it necessary to introduce a new actor for this bit role. Nurse Shari (Shari Saba) who by this time is quite a regular recurring character appears uncredited in the final scene in the Officers Club. She could also have been used in the triage scene instead of Coleman. Actually this is Coleman's only acting credit in IMDB. Perhaps this was an instance of giving a part to some member of the production or technical crew as a kind of reward.