The combat boots and dog tags Alan Alda wore while playing the wisecracking surgeon Hawkeye on the beloved television series “M*A*S*H” sold at auction Friday for $125,000.
Alda held onto the boots and dog tags for more than 40 years after the show ended but decided to sell them through Heritage Auctions in Dallas to raise money for his center dedicated to helping scientists and doctors communicate better.
The buyer’s name wasn’t released.
Alda, 87, said he wore the boots and dog tags for the 11-season run of the show about a Korean War medical unit. His character, Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce, was a talented surgeon who helped ease the stress of working in a war zone with quips and practical jokes. The show’s final episode, which aired in 1983 and was written and directed by Alda, was the most watched TV show in U.S. history.
The boots and dog tags, given to him by the costume department, “made an impression on me every day that we shot the show,” said Alda, who won five Emmys for his work on the sitcom.
Alda said auctioning off the dog tags and boots now made sense. “I saw this as a chance to put them to work again,” he said.
The money raised from the auction will go to the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University in New York, which aims to help scientists and doctors communicate better through the use of improvisational exercises and other strategies.