In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

September 3, 2019

Fun With Mayo — Mayo Clinic in Pop Culture, a Retro Retrospective

By In the Loop

The name Mayo Clinic is synonymous with great health care and is recognizable worldwide, which means it often shows up on screens large and small.

Simpsons, more Simpsons, David Letterman, Leslie Nielsen, Marilyn Monroe and more. The Mayo moments on screens large and small spotlighted in this recent Med City Beat story got us thinking about our own "Mayo in pop culture" indulgence some years ago in In the Loop. June 24, 2010, to be exact.

So after the long holiday weekend, we thought we'd revisit some of our own previously well-researched pop culture references. Not that we're trying to get out of current work or anything.

Stage Direction: Just Add "Mayo"

What self-respecting pop-culture medical reference doesn't prescribe a dose of Mayo Clinic? If someone on your favorite show has got to go somewhere to get something serious taken care of, chances are there's a Mayo Clinic reference coming right down Main Street.

It probably won't surprise you that someone at Mayo tracks this kind of thing. Along with protecting Mayo's brand, Mayo Clinic's Brand Team keeps a close eye on where Mayo's name pops up in the media — with a little help from media-savvy friends throughout the institution.  The team keeps tabs "because it's a reflection on how people are thinking and talking about us," says Amy Davis, director of Brand Management and Diversified Marketing (now Planning Services).

And there's a lot to keep tabs on, as it turns out.

Here's a short list of some favorites from the big and little screen, and beyond:

A Day at the Races

Groucho Marx impersonates a doctor. As other physicians state their credentials ("Johns Hopkins, 1918," "The Mayo brothers, 1924."), Groucho says he trained with "the Dodge brothers, late '29."


Peter Graves as Captain Oevre is on the phone with a Mayo Clinic doctor whose patient is coming to Minnesota for a heart transplant. The operator interrupts with an emergency call from Mr. Hamm on Line Five. Graves says: "Give me Hamm on Five and hold the Mayo." (Roger that.)

Hogan's Heroes

Episode is called "Is there a doctor in the house?" Col. Klink has the flu. While attempting to cure him, Col. Hogan says that he and the other prisoners are "Stalag 13's answer to the Mayo brothers." (Interesting. Very interesting.)


Matlock's friend is getting married to a nurse and they joke about going to Mayo Clinic on their honeymoon. (Sorry, but is there a punch line in there somewhere?)


Col. Henry Blake comforting Hawkeye: "If I had all the answers, I'd be at the Mayo Clinic. Does this place look like the Mayo Clinic?"

Days of Our Lives

Boyfriend tells Nicole he will do anything (anything) to help her medical problems: "We'll get a second or third or fourth opinion. I'll fly you to the Mayo Clinic!"

The Simpsons

Smithers to Mr. Burns: "You deserve the finest doctors in the world — I'm taking you to the Mayo Clinic!" (Where, interestingly, he encounters Fidel Castro and The Pope as fellow patients, and finds out he has every disease known to medicine.)


Contestants go through a category called "Hold the Mayo." All questions about Mayo Clinic. (Wow. Our very own category, and yet another "hold the Mayo" reference.)

Liner Notes — U2 Album No Line on the Horizon

In album notes, the band thanks Dr. Ian Hay and Mayo Clinic.

Onion Radio Network (satirical news report)

"God checks into Mayo Clinic for routine physical." Spoof news report of semi-millennial checkup. Mayo spokesperson notes that he is in "great shape" for "an all-powerful being of his age." (No pressure, doc.)

And now for something completely different, we'd be eternally grateful if someone could point us to the Mayo Clinic reference on Monty Python's Flying Circus.

Have your own Mayo-scripted moment? Leave a comment below before using the social media tools atop this page to share this story with others.


Tags: History & Heritage, Med City Beat, Practice story

I know there is an I Love Lucy episode where Ethel says that she went to the Mayos to have gallstones out.


Fred: Now, just a minute- you forget that lovely trip you took to Minnesota.
Ethel: Oh, that was a lot of fun. I went to Mayo Brothers to have my gallstones taken out.

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