Actress Sally Kellerman, who played Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan in Robert Altman’s M*A*S*H movie, has died at age of 84.
The Oscar-nominated star passed away in California on Thursday morning after a battle with dementia, her son, Jack Krane, told The Hollywood Reporter.
Kellerman also starred opposite Rodney Dangerfield in the 1986 comedy Back to School, in which she played his love interest, college literature professor Diane Turner.
“Before M*A*S*H, I was ready to take any kind of chance,” Kellerman said.
I went out for the Lieutenant Dish part, which was bigger. But I happened to be wearing lipstick, and while I was talking a mile a minute, producer Ingo Preminger kept muttering in his German accent, ‘Hot Lips!’ … (Altman) yelled ‘Hot Lips’ too.”
The film and the 1968 novel by Robert Hooker inspired the CBS tv series M*A*S*H, which ran from 1972 until 1983, and which saw all the characters from the movie recast, with Loretta Swit getting the part of Hot Lips on it.
The actress said that she eventually learned to live with being best remembered for her M*A*S*H role, for which she ended up losing out on an Oscar to Helen Hayes of Airport.
“There were times in my life when I felt I had to go out and prove that I’m not just Hot Lips,” she told The New York Post in 2010.
“But at this point, just call me anything you want.”
Kellerman was born in Long Beach, California, in 1937 to a father who was an oil executive, and a mother who was a piano teacher.
“I came out of the womb singing and acting,” she said.
She told The Los Angeles Times that she worked as a Hollywood waitress in the 1950s, before breaking into the movie industry.
“I waited for more stars than I worked with in my entire career,” she said.