Sally Kellerman, who played Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan on the hit movie M*A*S*H, died at the age of 84 last week.
Kellerman passed in a Los Angeles assisted living facility, where she had been battling dementia after being diagnosed with the disease in 2017.
According to her son Jack Crane, Kellerman’s health had been in decline for the past few years, and he knew that his visit with her on Wednesday would be the final time he saw her. She died the next morning.
Kellerman was nominated for an Academy Award for her portrayal of Maj. Margaret Houlihan in director Robert Altman’s 1970 Korean War comedy M*A*S*H, beside Donald Sutherland, Elliott Gould, and Tom Skerritt.
“I loved Bob, but he was a real male chauvinist, probably the worst. I’m kidding. Sort of kidding,” Kellerman said about the pranks the unit pulled on he character. “But I think that [torment] really saved Hot Lips. She grew up after that. She’d been so uptight, so rigid, no sense of humor — and after all that went down, she started having a really good time, a real life.”
Kellerman didn’t reprise the role in the television adaptation of the film, which starred Alan Alda, Wayne Rogers, and Lorretta Swit as ‘Hot Lips’ Houlihan from 1972-1983. Instead she continued to collaborate with Altman on a string of films including 1970’s Brewster McCloud, 1992’s The Player, and 1994’s Pret-a-Porter.
She starred alongside Rodney Dangefield in 1986 comedy Back To School, and appeared in guest spots on hit television shows The Twilight Zone, Star Trek, Dinosaurs, Burke’s Law, Columbo, and Diagnosis Murder, amongst many more.
Her last onscreen performance was in a 2017 episode of Difficult People, and despite her dementia diagnosis, has two upcoming films still in post-production, the comedy Underwater Upside Down and comedic thriller Flycatcher.