Actor who worked in film and TV for more than six decades, and was a regular in Robert Altman’s other films, had originally planned to be a singer
Sally Kellerman, the Oscar and Emmy-nominated actor who played Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan in director Robert Altman’s 1970 film M*A*S*H, has died. Kellerman died of heart failure at her home Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, her manager and publicist Alan Eichler said. She was 84.
Kellerman had a career of more than 60 years in film and television. She was a regular in Altman’s films, appearing in 1970’s Brewster McCloud, 1992’s The Player and 1994’s Prêt-à-Porter – but she would always be best known for playing Major Houlihan, a strait-laced, by-the-book army nurse who is tormented by rowdy doctors during the Korean war in the comedy M*A*S*H.
In the film’s key scene – and a peak moment of misogyny – a tent where Houlihan is showering is pulled open and she is exposed to an audience of cheering men. “This isn’t a hospital, this is an insane asylum!” she screams at her commanding officer. She carries on a torrid affair with the equally uptight Major Frank Burns, played by Robert Duvall, demanding that he kiss her “hot lips” in a moment secretly broadcast over the camp’s public address speakers, earning her the nickname.