Sally Kellerman, whose long career was best known for her portrayal of U.S. Army Maj. Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan, in Robert Altman’s classic film MASH, died today of dementia complications at an assisted-living facility in Woodland Hills, CA. She was 84.
Kellerman’s career lasted more than 60 years and spanned several aspects of show business. In addition to the film MASH (the T.V. series was abbreviated M*A*S*H), she was in several Altman films, including Brewster McCloud, Ready to Wear, The Player, and the Altman-produced Welcome to L.A.
Her résumé includes such films as Last of the Red Hot Lovers, Slither, The April Fools, A Reflection of Fear, and Back to School and television shows Star Trek, The Twilight Zone Bonanza, and The Outer Limits.
In addition to acting, Kellerman recorded two music albums and contributed songs to the soundtracks for Brewster McCloud, Lost Horizon, Rafferty and the Gold Dust Twins, and Boris and Natasha: The Movie.
Her smoky, sensual voice also saw her do voice-over work in commercials for such brands as Hidden Valley Ranch salad dressing, Mercedes-Benz, and Revlon.
In April 2013, she released her memoir, Read My Lips: Stories of a Hollywood Life, describing her life in the entertainment business.
On June 2, 1937, Kellerman was born in Long Beach, CA, and her family moved to Granada Hills in the San Fernando Valley when she was in fifth grade. The Kellermans moved to the Park La Brea complex in Los Angeles, and Sally Kellerman attended Hollywood High School. While she was not a great student, she acted in a school production of Meet Me in St. Louis.
She attended Los Angeles City College, enrolled in acting classes, and then joined a stage production of Look Back in Anger that featured Jack Nicholson, Dean Stockwell, and Robert Blake.
Her first film was 1957’s Reform School Girl. She earned an Oscar nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Helen Hayes won for Airport) and nominations for a Golden Globe and the Kansas City Film Critics Circle award for Best Supporting Actress. She spent most of the 1960s in various television appearances, with her big break arriving in 1970 via MASH.
Kellerman married writer-director Rick Edelstein (Starsky & Hutch), divorcing after two years. She married producer Jonathan D. Krane in 1980, who predeceased her.