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For the San Franciscomarker beach of the same name, see China Beach, San Franciscomarker.
For the Vietnamese beach , see China Beach.
For the beach on Vancouver Island, Canada, see China Beach marker.

China Beach is an Americanmarker dramatic television series set at an evacuation hospital during the Vietnam War. The title refers to a beach in the city of Da Nangmarker, Vietnammarker, that was nicknamed China Beach by unknown foreigners. The ABC TV drama aired for three years, from 1988 to 1991.

Overview of television series

Created by William Broyles, Jr. and John Sacret Young, the series looks at the Vietnam War from a unique perspective: that of the women, military and civilian, who were present during the conflict. John Wells took over most of the series beginning with the second season — many of the show's cast members would appear later on the Wells-produced series, ER.

Set in the Vietnammarker locale nicknamed 'China Beach', at the 510th Evacuation Hospital and R&R (the "Five-and-Dime" Rest & Recreation) facility, the cast of characters includes US Army doctors and nurses, officers, soldiers, Red Crossmarker volunteers, and civilian personnel (Americanmarker, Frenchmarker, and Vietnamesemarker). Very often, however, the series features the experiences of the characters when returning to the U.S.marker, either on leave or at the end of their tour of duty.

The show did not shy away from showing the gruesomeness of war, providing a very gritty view of the experience there.

The producers of the show sought out advice from former Army nurses stationed in Vietnam, notably Diane Carlson Evans.

Unusual story-telling methods were sometimes used: scenes presented in reverse chronology; insertion of animated cartoons to express a character's state of mind; alternating between interviews with former military nurses and scripted scenes; and a visit by the cast to the Vietnam Veterans Memorialmarker Wall in Washington, D.C.marker.

China Beach was a critically lauded but poorly rated series. ABC stuck with the show for four seasons, but the final season was put on hiatus in fall 1990 and did not air its finale until July 22, 1991. As a result of the strange scheduling, Dana Delany was eligible for (and ultimately won) a Best Actress Emmy in the fall of 1992, a year after the series broadcast its final episode and over a year-and-a-half after many of the scenes were filmed.


  • Dana Delany - Colleen McMurphy is a typical Catholic girl from Kansasmarker, who is commissioned in the U.S. Army as a nurse for the 510th Evac Hospital in Vietnammarker during the late 1960s. The character was used in the series to display the courage, kindness, and sacrifice of the American nurse in war, as well as the severe emotional impact on non-combatant personnel, during and following service.
  • Nan Woods - Cherry White, (Seasons 1-2) An incredibly naive Red Cross volunteer who comes to China Beach to search for her brother Rick who was reported MIA.
  • Michael Boatman - SP4 Samuel Beckett, U.S.A; The operator of the Graves Registration Unit at China Beach. His job makes him unpopular to most of the other servicemen.
  • Marg Helgenberger - Karen Charlene "K.C." Koloski; Cynical part-time call girl and civilian volunteer who comes to China Beach seeking to make her own wealth and fortune.
  • Robert Picardo - Captain Dick Richard, United States Army; the head surgeon and womanizer who deals with being in this wartime environment.
  • Tim Ryan - Captain Bartholomew "Natch" Austen, United States Air Force; (Seasons 1-2) Jet fighter pilot and McMurphy's love intrest.
  • Concetta Tomei - Maj. Lila Garreau, United States Army; Officious commanding officer of China Beach.
  • Brian Wimmer - Cpl. Boonie Lanier, U.S.M.C; Friendly China Beach lifeguard and manager of the Jet Set Club.
  • Jeff Kober - Staff Sgt. Evan "Dodger" Winslow, U.S.M.C; Moody Marine who serves and fights in the jungle mainly to keep other servicemen in his platoon alive. Nicknamed for his ability to dodge injury. Known as a "quiet sort"; generally keeps to himself. Friends with Boonie, McMurphy and Cherry.
  • Chloe Webb - Laurette Barber, (Season 1); USO singer who is determined to make it big.
  • Megan Gallagher - Airman Wayloo Marie Holmes, U.S.A.F, (Season 2); Reporter for the Armed Services Network who seeks her own career as a world-famous reporter.
  • Nancy Giles - Private Frankie Bunsen, U.S.A (Seasons 2-4); Female private seeking work at China Beach.
  • Ned Vaughn - Cpl. Jeff Hyers U.S.A., (Season 3); Good-natured combat medic.
  • Troy Evans - Spec. 1 Bob Pepper, U.S.A., (Season 3-4); Motor pool driver and mechanic. Becomes romanticaly intrested in Lila Garreau.
  • Ricki Lake - Holly Pelegrino, (Season 3); Sharp-witted Red Cross volunteer.


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