Sally Kellerman, the original Margaret ‘Hot Lips’ Houlihan in M*A*S*H* passes away from dementia

The acting world is in mourning with the passing of actress Sally Kellerman, at 84 years of age.

The actress who portrayed the original Margaret ‘Hot Lips’ Houlihan in Robert Altman’s 1970 movie M*A*S*H, passed after a long battle with dementia, her son Jack Krane confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter.

She passed at an assisted care facility in Woodland Hills, California, after an iconic career that spanned over 150 movies and TV shows. 

Mourning: The acting world is in mourning with the passing of actress Sally Kellerman, at 84 years of age

Mourning: The acting world is in mourning with the passing of actress Sally Kellerman, at 84 years of age

Hot Lips: The actress who portrayed the original Margaret 'Hot Lips' Houlihan in Robert Altman's 1970 movie M*A*S*H, passed after a long battle with dementia , her son Jack Krane confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter

Hot Lips: The actress who portrayed the original Margaret ‘Hot Lips’ Houlihan in Robert Altman’s 1970 movie M*A*S*H, passed after a long battle with dementia , her son Jack Krane confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter 

Sally Clare Kellerman was born in Long Beach, California on June 2, 1937, to her mother Edith, a piano teacher, and father John, a Shell Oil executive.

Her family moved to the San Fernando Valley and then Park La Brea, where she attended Hollywood High School.

After starring in a production of Meet Me in St. Louis, she was signed to a record contract with Verve Records, though she ultimately walked away from the deal because becoming a recording artist was too daunting for her at the time.

Early life: Sally Clare Kellerman was born in Long Beach, California on June 2, 1937, to her mother Edith, a piano teacher, and father John, a Shell Oil executive

 Early life: Sally Clare Kellerman was born in Long Beach, California on June 2, 1937, to her mother Edith, a piano teacher, and father John, a Shell Oil executive

She ended up at Los Angeles City College, where she appeared in a production of Don’t Look Back In Anger with fellow classmates such as Jack Nicholson, Shirley Knight, Dean Stockwell and Robert Blake.

Kellerman joined Actors Studio West in the late 1950s and made her screen acting debut in 1957’s Reform School Girl, while also working as a waitress at Chez Paulette.

She spent the 1960s acting in a slew of TV guest starring roles on shows such as Cheyenne, The Twilight Zone, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, My Three Sons, The Outer Limits, I Spy, Tarzan and more, before her breakthrough role as Margaret ‘Hot Lips’ Houlihan in Robert Altman’s 1970 film M*A*S*H, which earned her an Oscar nomination.

Classmates: She ended up at Los Angeles City College, where she appeared in a production of Don't Look Back In Anger with fellow classmates such as Jack Nicholson, Shirley Knight, Dean Stockwell and Robert Blake

Classmates: She ended up at Los Angeles City College, where she appeared in a production of Don’t Look Back In Anger with fellow classmates such as Jack Nicholson, Shirley Knight, Dean Stockwell and Robert Blake

Breakthrough: She spent the 1960s acting in a slew of TV guest starring roles on shows such as Cheyenne, The Twilight Zone, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, My Three Sons, The Outer Limits, I Spy, Tarzan and more, before her breakthrough role as Margaret 'Hot Lips' Houlihan in Robert Altman's 1970 film M*A*S*H

Breakthrough: She spent the 1960s acting in a slew of TV guest starring roles on shows such as Cheyenne, The Twilight Zone, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, My Three Sons, The Outer Limits, I Spy, Tarzan and more, before her breakthrough role as Margaret ‘Hot Lips’ Houlihan in Robert Altman’s 1970 film M*A*S*H

One of her more iconic scenes in the film is where she is the victim of a shower prank, with the canvas to the shower tent lifted up with Margaret naked for all to see.

Kellerman revealed in a 2016 interview that she had never appeared nude on screen before, and director Robert Altman devised a unique distraction for her.

‘When I looked up, there was  Gary Burghoff stark naked standing in front of me. The next take, [Altman] had Tamara Horrocks — she was the more amply endowed nurse — without her shirt on. … So I attribute my Academy Award nomination to the people who made my mouth hang open,’ Kellerman joked.

Nude: One of her more iconic scenes in the film is where she is the victim of a shower prank, with the canvas to the shower tent lifted up with Margaret naked for all to see

Nude: One of her more iconic scenes in the film is where she is the victim of a shower prank, with the canvas to the shower tent lifted up with Margaret naked for all to see

The M*A*S*H novel by Richard Hooker was later adapted for the small screen with the iconic series running from 1972 to 1983, with the series finale one of the most-watched TV episodes of all time.

With the exception of Gary Burghoff’s Radar O’Reilly, all of the characters were re-cast for the show, with Loretta Switt playing the role of Hot Lips.

Still, the role launched Kellerman’s film career, landing roles in Last of the Red Hot Lovers with Alan Arkin, Shelter with James Caan, A Little Romance with Laurence Olivier and Diane Lane and Welcome To L.A. with Harvey Keitel and Sissy Spacek in the 1970s, to name a few.

Re-cast: With the exception of Gary Burghoff's Radar O'Reilly, all of the characters were re-cast for the show, with Loretta Switt playing the role of Hot Lips

 Re-cast: With the exception of Gary Burghoff’s Radar O’Reilly, all of the characters were re-cast for the show, with Loretta Switt playing the role of Hot Lips

Film career: Still, the role launched Kellerman's film career, landing roles in Last of the Red Hot Lovers with Alan Arkin, A Little Romance with Laurence Olivier and Diane Lane and Welcome To L.A. with Harvey Keitel and Sissy Spacek in the 1970s, to name a few

Film career: Still, the role launched Kellerman’s film career, landing roles in Last of the Red Hot Lovers with Alan Arkin, A Little Romance with Laurence Olivier and Diane Lane and Welcome To L.A. with Harvey Keitel and Sissy Spacek in the 1970s, to name a few

She continued to work regularly in the 1980s, though she started pivoting towards more comedies with roles in Moving Violations and Back to School with Rodney Dangerfield.

She reportedly said that when she encountered fans in public, they would either say, ‘Hey Hot Lips’ or recite one of her classic lines from Back to School – ‘Call me sometime when you got no class.’

She continued to work with Altman as well, starring in the 1970 feature Brewster & McCloud, 1992’s The Player, 1994’s Pret-a-Porter and a 1997 episode of the anthology series Gun that Altman executive produced. 

Back to School: She continued to work regularly in the 1980s, though she started pivoting towards more comedies with roles in Moving Violations and Back to School with Rodney Dangerfield

Back to School: She continued to work regularly in the 1980s, though she started pivoting towards more comedies with roles in Moving Violations and Back to School with Rodney Dangerfield

She continued to work regularly into the 1990s and 2000s with roles in 1996’s It’s My Party, 2005’s Boynton Beach Club, 2011’s Night Club and TV shows such as Chemistry, Unsupervised, The Young and the Restless, Maron and Decker.

She was married to Starsky & Hutch producer Rick Edelstein from 1970 to 1972 before marrying talent manager Jonathan D. Krane from 1980 until his death in 2016.

Sally is survived by her adopted daughter Claire and adopted son Jack, with Jack’s twin sister Hannah passing from a heroin overdose in 2016 at the age of 27. 

Married: She was married to Starsky & Hutch producer Rick Edelstein from 1970 to 1972 before marrying talent manager Jonathan D. Krane from 1980 until his death in 2016

Married: She was married to Starsky & Hutch producer Rick Edelstein from 1970 to 1972 before marrying talent manager Jonathan D. Krane from 1980 until his death in 2016

Leave a Comment