DR. OLIVER "SPEARCHUCKER" JONES
AS SEEN IN:
AS PLAYED BY:
(Books, Movie, TV Series)
Captain Oliver Harmon "Spearchucker" Jones or Captain Oliver Wendell "Spearchucker" Jones was portrayed by Fred Williamson in the movie and Timothy Brown in the television series. Spearchucker was [in] several episodes during the first season of the series. His full name was never mentioned in the series. The character's middle name was Harmon in the film and Wendell in the novels. He is a board-certified neurosurgeon in the film, and in the episode in which Hawkeye becomes chief surgeon, Spearchucker's specialty is indicated as he struggles to do surgery and when he asks Hawkeye for help he says "anything outside of the brain and I'm dead".
Dr. Jones was one of the original Swampmen with Trapper, Hawkeye, and Frank Burns, and was the sole black surgeon at the 4077th. In the pilot episode, when planning a party, the captains jokingly considered raffling Spearchucker, but chose a date with Nurse Dish instead. During his brief run on the show, it was implied that he and nurse Ginger Bayliss (played by Odessa Cleveland) were romantically involved.
Spearchucker's role was limited. He is implied to have assisted Hawkeye and Trapper in their schemes on the sidelines. The 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 because they were made aware that there is no record of African American doctors having served in Korea.
"Spearchucker" Jones was also a character in both the novel "M*A*S*H" (and its sequels) by Richard Hooker and Robert Altman's movie. In each, the Spearchucker character, who was a stand-out collegiate athlete ("Spearchucker," a common racial slur, is said to instead in this case refer to his javelin-throwing prowess) as well as a surgeon, is transferred to the 4077th to help them win a football game against a rival outfit. It is established in the novel that Jones is from Duke Forrest's hometown of Forrest City, Georgia, and knew Duke's father. Duke makes racist comments about Jones, causing Hawkeye and Trapper to punish Duke.
In the novel it is related that while a poorly-paid resident he had been scouted by the Philadelphia Eagles playing semi-professional football in New Jersey for extra cash, and had been signed by the Eagles, playing with them until caught up in the draft. According to the movie, his professional football career had been with the San Francisco 49ers prior to the war in Korea.
I'll never forget a sequence featuring Jones in one of the sequel novels by Hooker, "M*A*S*H Goes To Maine". The doctors were trying to get a wealthy patron to cough up the money needed to build a trauma center, but he didn't think they needed one in that part of Maine. They took him out to the golf course in hopes of making him change his mind but he was resolute in his decision.
Suddenly at an isolated hole, a man came running out of the woods screaming for help. Unbeknownst to the philanthropist, this was a Korean War veteran who now had a wooden leg. He was being chased by Spearchucker Jones who was armed with a chain saw. He caught the first guy, knocked him down, and proceeded to saw off his "leg".
The patron hastily agreed to fund the trauma center.....