In a conversation with Ed Solomonson for Solomonson and Mark O’Neill’s 2009 book “TV’s ‘M*A*S*H’: The Ultimate Guidebook,” Gelbart spoke about a couple of especially bodily references that somehow made it past network censors. The first took place in the season 2 episode “The Trial of Henry Blake,” in which camp brown-noser Frank Burns (Larry Linville) and head nurse Margaret Houlihan (Loretta Swit, whose character would evolve later but at that point was mostly just a snob) decided to formally charge Colonel Blake (McLean Stevenson) over his incompetent leadership. The episode’s script credit went to Stevenson himself, and the actor (or one of his fellow writers) managed to sneak in a jaw dropping reference to sex toys.
The moment comes when Hawkeye walks in on Margaret using an electronic neck massager on Frank, who the whole camp knew she was having a steamy affair with. “Behind every great man, there is a woman with a vibrator,” Hawkeye jokes, a double entendre that depending on which way you tilt your head gestures toward the idea of a woman’s solo (and secret) sexual exploits, or to the then even more taboo idea of a prostate stimulation. Either way, the joke was apparently intentional. “Probably the poor schmuck who was the censor didn’t know what people did with a vibrator,” Gelbart told Solomonson with a laugh when the writer brought up the joke during a 2004 interview. “He may have thought we were talking about a foot vibrator,” Gelbart concluded. After he makes the comment, Hawkeye and Trapper (Wayne Rogers) salute, just so Margaret will do the same — and accidentally hold up the bulky metal massager in the process.