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'M*A*S*H' Actress Kellye Nakahara Dead at 72

'M*A*S*H' Actress Kellye Nakahara Dead at 72
Getty Images/CBS (inset)

Kellye Nakahara, an actress best known as Nurse Yamato on over 160 episodes of the iconic TV series "MASH," died Sunday, THR reports. She was 72.

Her son, William Wallett, told the AP that his mother had battled cancer, and had died at home in Pasadena, California, surrounded by friends and family.

Born in 1947 in Oahu, Hawaii, Nakahara made her TV debut on "MASH," playing a nurse with an unrequited crush on womanizing Hawkeye Pierce (Alan Alda).

Though she worked on the show from 1973-1983, it wasn't until the 1982 "Hey, Look Me Over" episode that her character was given front-burner status. In it, Nurse Yamato scolded Hawkeye for not noticing her properly, telling him in a classic speech, "For your information, I happen to have a fantastic sense of humor, a bubbly personality and I am warm and sensitive like you wouldn't believe. I also sing and play the guitar and I'm learning to tap dance. And on top of all that, I happen to be cute as hell."

In 2016, she told NPR that episode jump-started interest in her character. "I got mail," she said. "I still get mail. I have people coming up to me that say, 'As far as being Asian, you're the first role model that I had of an Asian that wasn't portrayed as an Asian, just as a person.'"

In the same Q&A, she recalled hosting potluck dinners for the cast after the show ended.

Nakahara's other most memorable role was as the cook in the cult-classic movie "Clue" (1985).

Along with an appearance in the John Hughes-directed "She's Having a Baby" (1988), Nakahara made episodic-TV guest spots on such shows as "Little House on the Prairie" (1982), "Hunter" (1985), and "Growing Pains (1991). She was Beagle Woman in the 1998 Eddie Murphy version of "Doctor Dolittle," retiring after voicing Yak on "The Wild Thornberrys" (2000).

She is survived by her husband, David Wallett, two children and four grandchildren.