Oscar-nominated MASH actress Sally Kellerman dies at 84

LOS ANGELES – Sally Kellerman, an Oscar- and Emmy-nominated actor who played Margaret’s Hot Lips Hooligan in Robert Altman’s 1970 film MASH, died on Thursday.

Kellerman died of heart failure at her home in the Woodland Hills area of ​​Los Angeles, her manager and publicist Alan Eichler said. She was 84 years old.

Kellerman’s career in film and television was more than 60 years. She played a college professor who returned the love of student Rodney Dangerfield in the 1986 comedy Back to School. And she often starred in Altman’s films, appearing in the 1970s films “Brewster McCloud”, “The Player” in 1992 and “Ready for Clothing” in 1994.

But she will always be known for her role as Major Hooligan, a clumsy army nurse who is tortured by hooligan doctors in the army comedy “MASH” during the Korean War.

In the key scene of the film and the peak of misogyny, the tent, where Hooligan takes a shower, opens, and she is exposed to an audience that welcomes men.


“It’s not a hospital, it’s crazy!” She shouts at her commander.

She has a tumultuous affair with the equally tense Major Frank Burns, played by Robert Duvall, demanding that he kiss her “hot lips” in a moment that was secretly broadcast through camp conversations, giving her the nickname.

Kellerman said Altman found the best in her.

“It was a very free, positive experience,” she told Dick Cavett in a 1970 television interview. “For the first time in my life, I took a risk, I didn’t suck my cheek and I didn’t worry about anything.”

The film was nominated for five Academy Awards, but her best supporting actress was the only acting honors, despite the fact that it included Duvall, Donald Sutherland and Elliott Gould.

The film will be turned into a series that lasted 11 seasons, with Loretta Svit as Kellerman.

Sally Claire Kellerman was born in 1937 in Long Beach, California, the daughter of a piano and oil company teacher, as a child moved to Los Angeles and attended Hollywood High School.


Her initial interest was in jazz singing, and at 18 she signed to Verve records. She decided to act and did not release music until 1972, when she released the album “Roll With the Feeling”. She sang on the side, and sometimes in roles, throughout her career, releasing her latest album “Sally” in 2007.

She took an acting course at the City College of Los Angeles and starred in a stage production of “Look Back in Anger” with classmate Jack Nicholson and several other future stars.

Early in her career, she worked mainly in television, starring in the 1962 film Cheyenne and guest appearances in Twilight Zone, Outer Borders, Alfred Hitchcock’s Hour and Bonanza.

Her appearance in the original Star Trek pilot as Dr. Elizabeth Denner won cult status among fans.

She will work mostly in film in the years after “MASH”, including “The Last of the Hot Lovers” in 1972 and “Rafferty and the Golden Dust Twins” in 1975, both with Alan Arkin, 1973’s “Slither” with James Kaan. 1979. Little Romance ”with Lawrence Olivier and“ Foxes ”of the 1980s with Jodie Foster.


She will be working in her 80s, with several well-known TV shows in recent years.

She starred in the comedy series “Decker” with Tim Heidecker and played the mother of comedian Mark Maron in his series “Maron”.

“Sally Kellerman was radiant, beautiful and cheerful, and it’s so nice to work with her,” Maron said on Twitter on Thursday. “My real mom was very flattering and a little jealous. I’m sorry she’s gone. ”

And in 2014, she was nominated for an Emmy Award for her supporting role in “Young and Restless.”

Kellerman was married to TV producer Rick Edelstein from 1970 to 1972 and to film producer Jonathan D. Crane from 1980 until his death in 2016.

She is survived by son Jack and daughter Claire.


Follow AP Entertainment writer Andrew Dalton on Twitter: @andyjamesdalton

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