"In the industry, my proudest achievement was being a straight-up medical advisor who stuck to his guns and who gave proper medical advice and didn't let the drama influence the medicine."
About This Interview
In his three-hour Archive interview, Dr. Walter Dishell describes how he first got involved in television when he was approached (while a resident at UCLA medical center) to become the medical adviser for a television movie called U.M.C., which served as the pilot for the long-running drama series Medical Center. Dishell talks about his work as the medical adviser to this series and the various medical subjects it explored, including an episode that led to a change in real-life laws regarding employment discrimination of recovered cancer patients. He details his work on M*A*S*H, giving advice on medical procedures as they were in the 1950s during the Korean War. He describes the episode he co-wrote with star Alan Alda ("Life Time") that unfolds in real time and centers on an arterial graft operation. Dishell also recalls consulting for several other television series, including: Trapper John, M.D., House Calls, and Family Medical Center. B-roll consists of photos from U.M.C. (with Edward G. Robinson), Medical Center (including stills from the bill signing resulting from the cancer patient episode), M*A*S*H (including the script cover page of the "Life Time" episode), and a card from the game "Trivial Pursuit" which featured a question about the medical adviser on M*A*S*H. Gary Rutkowski conducted the interview on November 18, 2003 in Los Angeles, CA.