McHale's Navy

McHale's Navy

Synopsis of TV Show

If you liked uniforms and nifty heavy artillery, but not all that stringent machismo, then P.T. 73 was the Navy boat for you. Its Lieutenant Commander was Quinton McHale, and McHale didn’t exactly run what we call a tight ship, nor did his crew exactly consist of straight-laced company men. Ernest Borgnine played fun loving, rule-breaking McHale in this 60’s sitcom, which found a U.S. Navy fleet stationed in the South Pacific during World War II. Though McHale’s corrupt but lovable antics were certainly reminiscent of Sergeant Bilko’s adventures on The Phil Silvers Show, McHale spoofed humorless and hardcore military types in a way all his own.

Since every lover of fun must have a nemesis fun-killer, McHale butted heads with Captain Wallace Binghamton, who was called “Old Lead Bottom” behind his starchy uniformed back. Lead Bottom wanted to send the P.T. 73 boys to the Aleutians and have them out of his regulation-cut hair. He assigned his subordinate Ensign Charles Parker to tame McHale, but when you send in actor Tim Conway (who played Parker) to instill organization anywhere, you’re just asking for trouble. Despite the bootlegging and the gambling and the myriad of other shenanigans, McHale knew the South Pacific territory inside and out, and at the end of the day, he and his crew always got the job done (and then some). This was one rogue Lieutenant Commander, it turned out, who just couldn’t be tamed.

To capitalize on the success of the show, two films starring the TV show’s zany players were released, in 1964 and 1965 (as was a feature film remake in 1997). And in the final season of the show, McHale and his crew, including Lead Bottom, were transferred to a small town in Italy. Poor Lead Bottom thought the new venue would slow McHale down, but of course there, too, rules and officiousness didn’t stand a chance. The Italians liked to gamble just as much as P.T. 73 did, and the town mayor was almost as good at breaking the rules as McHale himself.

Poor Lead Bottom. It never pays to be a spoilsport, at least in sitcoms. Irreverence towards, and satire of, an American institution like the Armed Forces would have a big place in television in the years to follow McHale's Navy (a certain Mobile Army Surgical Hospital, most memorably), but in the early 60’s, irreverence like this was still novel. And consequently, McHale—in all his Hawaiian shirt splendor—was all the more fun to watch.

Release History of Prime Time Show

10/11/62 - 8/30/66 ABC

TV Sub Categories


Television Network


Television Studio


TV Cast

Lieut. Comdr. Quinton McHale (1962-66)  Ernest Borgnine
Ensign Charles Parker Tim Conway
Captain Wallace Burton Binghamton Joe Flynn
Lester Gruber Carl Ballantine
George 'Christy' Christopher Gary Vinson
Harrison 'Tinker' Bell Billy Sands
Virgil Edwards Edson Stroll
Nurse Molly Turner (1962-64) Jane Dulo
Joseph 'Happy' Haines (1962-64) Gavin MacLeod
Willy Moss (1964-66) John Wright
Fuji Kobiaji Yoshio Yoda
Lt. Elroy Carpenter Bob Hastings
Col. Douglas Harrigan (1965-66) Henry Beckman
Gen. Bronson (1965-66) Simon Scott
Dino Baroni (1965-66) Dick Wilson
Mayor Mario Lugatto (1965-66) Jay Novello
Mama Rosa Giovanni (1965-66) Peggy Mondo
Admiral Bruce Rogers (1962-66) Roy Roberts
Chief Tali Urulu (1962-65) Jacques Aubuchon
Admiral Benson (1962-65) Bill Quinn
Lt. Gloria Winters Cindy Robbins

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