Sally Kellerman, MASH and Star Trek Actress, Dies at 84

Sally Kellerman, the actress and singer who was best known for her Oscar-nominated performance as Major Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan in the MASH feature film, has passed away at the age of 84. The news was revealed by Kellerman’s publicist, Alan Eichler, who confirmed that she died from complications of dementia on Thursday in Woodland Hills, California. Outside of MASH, Kellerman appeared in a number of Robert Altman films, including The Player, Brewster McCloud, and Welcome to L.A.. She also was recognized for her roles in Star Trek, The Twilight Zone, and Maron, as well an array of voiceover performances.

Born in Long Beach, California on June 2, 1937, Kellerman almost broke into the entertainment industry after signing a record deal with Verve Records’ Norman Granz, but walked away from the contract. She studied under Jeff Corey at Los Angeles City College, and made her onscreen debut in the 1957 film Reform School Girl.

Across the 1960s, Kellerman appeared in episodes of The Twilight Zone, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, My Three Sons, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Tarzan, and Hawaii Five-O. Her breakout role as Houlihan in the MASH film was released in 1970, and earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. In the decades that followed, she then starred in films such as Last of the Red Hot Lovers, Slither, and Lost Horizon, appeared in multiple theatrical productions, and voiced Miss Finch in the Sesame Street film Follow That Bird. She also portrayed Dr. Elizabeth Dehner in the second pilot episode of Star Trek: The Original Series, “Where No Man Has Gone Before.”

She also released her first album, Roll with the Feelin‘ in 1972, and planned to release a second in the 1990s, but it never surfaced. She ultimately released a second album, a jazz and blues venture titled Sally, in 2009, and a memoir titled Read My Lips: Stories of a Hollywood Life, in 2013.

Later roles in the actress’ career included stints on 90210, The Young and the Restless, Maron, Decker, and Difficult People. Her last appearance was in a 2021 episode of the animated series Sammy.

“I’ve had a very checkered career,” Kellerman said in a 2002 interview with IGN. My analyst always said, ‘You can do anything you want in life as long as you’re willing to pay the consequences.’ I’d always say, when we’d be on the road and have turned down a movie, “What fun we had at the cook’s house after the third show!” There were four more people in the band then there were in the audience. But today I’m working with Leiber and Stoller on a show – they asked me if I would do this show, so I’ve learned about 26 songs of theirs, and we’re deciding how we’re going to do it and in what style. Separate from that, I’ve got a new album deal. So after all these years, things are just coming to me, and it’s wonderful. I hope to have some more cracks at some wonderful roles before I go to the Great Beyond. It hasn’t been smooth or delightful every minute, there were lean years and rough years, but it’s been exciting and good and I’m thrilled to be an actress and a singer and to have spent my life this way.”

Our thoughts are with Kellerman’s family, friends, and fans at this time.

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