Sally Kellerman, Hot Lips Houlihan in 'M*A*S*H,' Dies at 84
Sally Kellerman, who was Oscar-nominated for her performance in the Robert Altman classic "M*A*S*H," died Thursday after a battle with dementia. She was 84.
Her official Facebook page announced her death with the message, "It is with great sadness that we report the passing of our beloved Sally Kellerman, who died peacefully in her sleep early this morning, Feb. 24. Her career spanned 60 years in which she gave us hundreds of hours of TV and movie magic, not to mention her wonderful singing. She will be missed, but her performances will last forever. R.I.P. dear lady."
It was accompanied by a video of Kellerman performing "Could I Leave You?" from the musical "Follies."
Born June 2, 1937, in Long Beach, California, she attended Hollywood High, where she discovered her love of acting. As a teenager, she was signed to a recording contract by Verve Records, but changed her mind about pursuing a career in music.
Her first professional appearance was in a stage production of "Look Back in Anger" that was packed with a cast of future stars — along with Kellerman, Jack Nicholson, Robert Blake, Shirley Knight and Dean Stockwell.
She made her film debut in "Reform School Girl" (1957) and her TV debut on a 1959 episode of "Playhouse 90."
In her prolific 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 famous episode of "Star Trek" (1966) entitled "Where No Man Has Gone Before."
After appearing in the hit "The Boston Strangler" (1968), she 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.
Working with director Robert Altman for the film 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).
Also recognized for a winning performance opposite Rodney Dangerfield in "Back to School" (1986), her other film roles included "Slither" (1973), "Lost Horizon" (1973), "Foxes" (1980), "That's Life!" (1986), and "Boynton Beach Club" (2005), whose director Susan Seidelman remembered her on Instagram.
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She reconsidered her about-face on music, releasing her first album in 1972. Her involvement in the music industry led to a relationship with Mark Farner, a member of Grand Funk Railroad, who immortalized her with the 1976 tune "Sally."
Famous for her husky voice, Kellerman 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" last year, and one of her most widely consumed performances of any kind was as the voice of Hidden Valley Ranch salad dressing in a series of TV spots.