American actor Gary Burghoff was the son of a Connecticut clockworks executive and a professional dancer. Under the aegis of his mother (the dancer), Burghoff studied tap dancing from age 5; he also trained himself to be a professional drummer, despite the fact that he'd been born with three deformed fingers on his left hand.
Turning to acting, Burghoff found that his high voice and his 5'6" frame consigned him to child and teenager roles - which became a blessing when he was cast in the title role of the off-broadway musical You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown in 1967. Director Robert Altman cast Burghoff as Cpl. "Radar" O'Reilly in his antiwar comedy M*A*S*H (1970); the name Radar was derived from the character's uncanny ability to anticipate what people were going to say and to sense when the "choppers" were bringing incoming wounded into the "Mobile Army Surgical Hospital" of the film's acronymic title. When M*A*S*H was converted into a TV situation comedy in 1972, Burghoff was the only member of the original movie cast to be signed for the series (It was not his first TV stint; he'd been a regular on 1970's Don Knotts Show). The actor played company clerk Radar from 1972 through 1979, winning an Emmy in the process and endearing himself to millions of fans.
Occasional guest-star appearances, include a spot on Murder She Wrote. Recently Burghoff preferred to devote his time to his numerous pro-ecology and Animal Rights causes. However, in the late 1980s, Gary Burghoff was reunited with several of his M*A*S*H costars in a series of elaborately produced IBM television commercials.