Sally Kellerman of ‘M*A*S*H’ Fame Dies @ 84

Sally Kellerman, Oscar-nominated as Hot Lips Houlihan in M*A*S*H (1970), died Thursday at 84.

Loretta Swit shared her condolences regarding Kellerman's death. (Image via Instagram)

ExtraTV reported she had battled dementia and died in a care facility.

Born on June 2, 1937, in Long Beach, California, Kellerman moved with her family as a girl and attended Hollywood High. Though enamored of acting while at school, she also had a killer voice, leading her to land a record deal with Verve as a teen. She reportedly became intimidated by the pressure and demurred, holding off on releasing her first album until 1972.

Kellerman's first professional acting appearance was on stage in Look Back in Anger, a production stacked with a cast of future stars — along with Kellerman, Jack Nicholson (b. 1937), Robert Blake (b. 1933), Shirley Knight (1936-2020) and Dean Stockwell (1936-2021).

Though thought of as a '70s actress, her film debut was in Reform School Girl (1957), a Samuel Z. Arkoff (1918-2001) production, with her TV debut coming via a 1959 episode of Playhouse 90. She was active throughout the '60s.

“I’m sorry … you can’t know what it’s like to … be almost a god.” (GIF via GIPHY)

In her long and varied episodic-TV career, she appeared on series like Bachelor Father (1960), Surfside 6 (1961), The Twilight Zone (1963), The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet (1963), The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis (1963), My Three Sons (1963), The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (1965) and on a beloved episode of Star Trek (1966) entitled "Where No Man Has Gone Before."

She appeared in the successful film The Boston Strangler (1968), then landed the role of Maj. Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan in the original movie version of M*A*S*H (1970), a part later taken on for TV by Loretta Swit (b. 1937).

Hot Lips (Image via Columbia)

Working with director Robert Altman (1925-2006) on M*A*S*H led to a long-term collaboration — she also acted in his films Brewster McCloud (1970), The Player (1992), Ready to Wear (1994), and the series Gun (1997). She later spoke out about his male chauvinism, which led to him withdrawing an offer to appear in one of his upcoming movies ... which turned out to be the iconic Nashville (1975).

Also recognized for a winning performance opposite Rodney Dangerfield (1921-2004) in Back to School (1986), her other film roles included Slither (1973), Lost Horizon (1973), Foxes (1980), and That's Life! (1986).

Interestingly, Kellerman's romantic with Mark Farner (b. 1948), a member of Grand Funk Railroad, led to the 1976 tune "Sally."

Her instantly recognizable husky voice was central to a long-running Hidden Valley Ranch salad dressing ad campaign, and she also voiced characters in The Mouse and His Child (1977), Happily Ever After (1990) and Delgo (2008). Her final performance was a voice role on the series Sammy (2021).

Kellerman was preceded in death by her second husband, Jonathan D. Krane (1952-2016), and by their daughter Hannah, who died of a drug overdose in 2016. She is survived by her daughter Claire (her niece, who she adopted and who was also adopted by Krane) and by their son Jack.

My shot of Sally at Chiller in 2014 (Image by Matthew Rettenmund)

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