Sally Kellerman has died at the age of 84. Here are five things to know about the actress who had a career in show business spanning 60 years.
Actress Sally Kellerman, most famous for her role in the 1970 satirical war film MASH, has passed away at age 84 from complications of dementia. Below we’re breaking down five things to know about the actress who had an illustrious and wide-spanning career in Hollywood.
She was a West Coast native
Born in Long Beach, California on June 2, 1937 to a piano teacher mother and Shell Oil executive father, Sally and her older sister Diana moved with their family to the San Fernando Valley when Sally was in fifth grade. It wasn’t until her sophomore year of high school the family moved again, this time to Los Angeles where she attended Hollywood High School.
The actress went on to attend Los Angeles City College and also joined the Actor’s Studio West, continuing to train while living in the ideal spot for an aspiring star. While taking acting classes, she appeared in a production of Look Back in Anger along with then-unknowns Shirley Knight, Jack Nicholson, Dean Stockwell and Robert Blake.
She was most famous for her role as ‘Hot Lips’ in ‘MASH’
Sally received her breakthrough role in director Robert Altman‘s 1970 black comedy war flick MASH, playing Major Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan, a member of the Army Nurse Corps.
“It was like summer camp,” she said about working with the famed director, her told her to “just giggle and give in.” During a 2012 interview with ign.com, Sally said when she first met with Altman, she dressed specifically for the part of Hot Lips. “I just got a meeting and wore lipstick that day,” she stated. “I was usually always hiding my lips, because I didn’t want anyone to see my mouth, but before I left the meeting, Bob said, ‘I’ll give you the best part in the picture.’”
She collaborated with Altman on other occasions
Sally and Altman also worked together again for his 1992 satirical black comedy film The Player, which starred Tim Robbins as a Hollywood executive who seeks out a screenwriter he believes is sending him death threats. Sally appeared as herself in the movie, and was happy to be working together again with Altman, having also appeared in his 1970 comedy Brewster McCloud and 1976’s Welcome to LA.
“He was a rebel. Always making trouble. It made you better and made it fun,” she stated during an event in 2018 celebrating her 81st birthday. “It’s so great to do what you love and have it be fun and people enjoy it.”
She also utilized her voice and singing talent
In addition to her acting, Sally 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.
Moreover, she possessed a sensual, deep voice that lent itself to a plethora of voiceover work for brands like Hidden Valley Ranch, Mercedes-Benz, and Revelon.
She had a fruitful acting career
In addition to her breakthrough role in MASH, Kelly maintained an acting career in the business that spanned more than 60 years. She appeared in films like Last of the Red Hot Lovers and as Rodney Dangerfield‘s love interest in the 1986 comedy Back to School. She also had roles in TV shows like Star Trek, The Twilight Zone, Bonanza, and The Outer Limits.
“I’ve had such a lucky, wonderful career as an actress and singer,” Kellerman told the audience at a celebration of her 81st birthday in 2018. “I have just had the most wonderful life.”