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Sally Kellerman, best known as ‘Hot Lips’ Houlihan in ‘M.A.S.H.’ movie, dies at 84

Sally Kellerman promotes "Read My Lips: Stories Of A Hollywood Life" at Barnes & Noble on May 2, 2013 in New York City. Kellerman died Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022. She was 84. (Daniel Zuchnik/Getty Images/TNS)

Sally Kellerman, the husky-voiced actress who made her name as “Hot Lips” Houlihan in the movie “M.A.S.H.,” died Thursday. She was 84.

Kellerman died at a Los Angeles care facility after a four-year battle with dementia, according to multiple reports.

Though she had more than 100 acting credits to her name, Kellerman was always best known for her work in her sixth film, 1970′s “M.A.S.H.”

“It doesn’t matter how long the series was on or how long it’s been gone, I’ll go somewhere and hear a truck driver say, ‘Hey, Hot Lips!’” Kellerman said in 2015.

Kellerman earned an Oscar nomination for best supporting actress but lost out to Helen Hayes for “Airport.” She went on to star in dozens of TV shows and movies, often teaming up with “M.A.S.H.” director Robert Altman. Kellerman also appeared in Altman’s “Brewster McCloud” in 1970, “The Player” in 1992 and “Pret-a-Porter” two years later.

Her star soared after playing Hot Lips, a rigid, no-nonsense head nurse during the Korean War, and she decided to focus more on her second love: singing. But that meant passing up a role in Altman’s next movie.

“He said, ‘Will you be in my next film?’ And I said, ‘Well, if the part is good.’ Bang! He hung up the phone. And it turned out to be ‘Nashville.’” she said in 2015. “And I should have called him back … but he was arrogant and I was arrogant and it was just a happy little accident.”

Born June 2, 1937, in Long Beach, California, Kellerman spent her entire life in and around Hollywood. She finally revealed the “Nashville” story in her 2013 book, “Read My Lips: Stories of a Hollywood Life.”

Kellerman’s many TV and film credits include the 1986 film “Back to School,” in which she played a professor and love interest to Rodney Dangerfield. She also appeared on TV in “The Twilight Zone,” “Mannix,” “90210″ and the original “Star Trek.” In 2015, she earned a Daytime Emmy nomination for her work on “The Young and the Restless.”

Though the success of “M.A.S.H.” led to the long-running CBS TV show, Kellerman and most of the original cast were left out. Loretta Swit took over the role of Hot Lips.


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