Oscar-nominated actress Sally Kellerman, best known for playing US Army Major Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan in the M*A*S*H movie, has passed away at 84. She’s said to have died on Thursday morning in California after a long battle with dementia, according to a statement her son, Jack Krane, made to the Hollywood Reporter.
- Kellerman had a long list of credits to her name. In addition to Robert Altman’s M*A*S*H, Kellerman also appeared on the big screen in Back to School with Rodney Dangerfield. She also worked regularly in TV, appearing in shows including That Girl, Mannix, and Ben Casey, among others. Most recently, she appeared in Marc Maron’s IFC series Maron.
- She always felt the need to prove herself. Playing such an iconic bombshell on screen meant that Kellerman always felt she needed to work hard to break out of being typecast. “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 a 2010 interview. “But at this point, just call me anything you want!”
- Kellerman wasn’t always an actress. While she had grand ambitions, Kellerman worked as a waitress in Hollywood in the late 1950s, serving “more stars than I worked with in my entire career,” she told the Los Angeles Times in 2013. She pursued jazz and stage production before finally getting cast in M*A*S*H.
- She loved playing “Hot Lips” and really went for it in her audition. When she knew she was going to be auditioning, she made sure to prepare. “I just got a meeting and wore lipstick that day. I was usually always hiding my lips, because I didn’t want anyone to see my mouth, but before I left the meeting, [Robert Altman] said, ‘I’ll give you the best part in the picture,'” she recalled. It was the beginning of what Kellerman would later describe as an incredible and memorable career.