Sally Kellerman, 'MASH' and 'Back to School' Star, Dead at 84

Sally Kellerman, who starred in the original M*A*S*H movie as Major Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan, died on Thursday in Woodland Hills, California. She was 84. Her publicist Alan Eichner confirmed her death to Variety.

Her son, Jack Krane, told TMZ she was battling dementia. She was diagnosed with the illness in 2017 and was in declining health in recent years. Krane said he last spoke with her Wednesday night, and it was clear to him that would be the last time he would see her, so he said his goodbyes.

Kellerman was born in Long Beach, California, and showed an early interest in acting. She made her on-screen debut in the 1957 B-movie Reform School Girl, but she focused on television throughout the 1960s. One of her best-known TV roles from the period was in "Where No Man Has Gone Before," the second Star Trek pilot. She played the Enterprise's psychiatrist, Elizabeth Dehner. Her other TV credits during the 1960s included Twelve O'Clock High, The Rogues, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Bonanza, and That Girl.

In 1970, she scored the biggest movie role of her career and began a fruitful collaboration with filmmaker Robert Altman. Her performance as "Hot Lips" Houlihan in M*A*S*H earned her a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination. (Loretta Swit played "Hot Lips" Houlihan in the M*A*S*H TV series.) She also worked with Altman on Brewster McCloud, The Player, Prêt-à-Porter, and an episode of the short-lived 1997 ABC series Gun.

Kellerman also starred in the 1986 Rodney Dangerfield comedy Back to School and worked with Julie Andrews and Jack Lemmon on That's Life!. Her other films include Lost Horizon, A Little Romance, All's Fair, Night Club, Meatballs III: Summer Job, and It's My Party. Her final on-screen appearance came in an episode of Hulu's Difficult People. Kellerman also had a recurring part in The Young and the Restless.


A unique, husky voice made Kellerman perfect for voice acting roles later in her career. Her voice work included Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird, the 1990 movie Happily Ever After, and a part in Pixar's Ratatouille. She also voiced commercials for Hidden Valley ranch dressing, Revlon, and Mercedes-Benz. Kellerman also recorded an album in 1972 and published her memoir, Read My Lips: Stories of a Hollywood Life, in 2013.

Kellerman is survived by her son Krane and daughter Claire. She was married to writer-director Rick Einstein in the early 1970s. She was married to producer Jonathan D. Krane from 1980 until his death in 2016.