Sally Kellerman, Hot Lips Houlihan in ‘M*A*S*H’, Dead at 84
Sally Kellerman, the actress best-known for her role as Hot Lips Houlihan in the 1970 film M*A*S*H, has died at the age of 84.
News of Kellerman’s passing was confirmed by her son. The Hollywood Reporter noted that the actress died “at an assisted care facility in Woodland Hills [California] after a battle with dementia.”
Born June 2, 1937, Kellerman was attracted to the entertainment industry at an early age. “I came out of the womb singing and acting,” she declared in her 2013 autobiography, Read My Lips: Stories of a Hollywood Life.
Kellerman’s film debut came in the 1957 sexploitation flick Reform School Girl. So started a career that would span more than 60 years.
It was Robert Altman’s M*A*S*H that elevated the actress’ notoriety. Kellerman’s portrayal of Major Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. It also set the stage for further collaborations with Altman, as the actress would later appear in his films Brewster McCloud (1970), Welcome to L.A. (1976), The Player (1992) and Prêt-à-Porter (1994).
Kellerman also had a starring role in the classic Rodney Dangerfield comedy Back to School.
“This is my one brag in life: The director said he felt that I helped make Rodney human, believable in a relationship. Because I just had to love him and be sincere about it,” Kellerman explained to comedian Marc Maron in 2016, with whom she’d worked on the IFC comedy series Maron.
The actress’ other notable television credits included roles on The Outer Limits, The Twilight Zone, Star Trek, Bonanza, Dream On and Workaholics. In 2015 she received a Daytime Emmy Award nomination for her guest appearance on the long-running soap opera The Young and the Restless.
Kellerman also had a brief recording career, releasing two solo albums: 1972’s Roll With the Feelin’ and 2009’s Sally. Grand Funk Railroad’s 1976 single “Sally” was inspired by Kellerman, who was dating the band’s frontman, Mark Farner, at the time.