Alan Alda is mourning the loss of his M*A*S*H co-star Kellye Nakahara. Breaking his silence on Monday in a statement to Fox News, Alda, who portrayed "Hawkeye" Pierce opposite Nakahara's Nurse Kellye Yamato, remembered the late actress as "a beautiful person and a natural as an actor."
"She began as a background performer and worked her way up to playing the lead in an episode I wrote for her," Alda added. "She was adorable and brilliant in the part. But, you couldn't beat what she was as a person, funnier and warmer and kinder than most people I've known. We all loved her on M*A*S*H, and we're all heartbroken to know she's gone. Kelley was a treasure."
Born in in Oahu, Hawaii, but later moving to San Francisco to pursue a career in art, Nakahara soon landed a role as Lt. Kellye Yamato on M*A*S*H in 1973, a series she starred in for its entire run, appearing in 167 episodes through 1983.
Set during the Korean War, the actress' character had a secret crush on Alda's "Hawkeye," and, in one of her most memorable scenes, scolded him for having his""eyes...on every nurse" except her.
"For your information, I happen to have a fantastic sense of humor, a bubbly personality and I am warm and sensitive like you wouldn't believe," she told him, according to NBC News. "I also sing and play the guitar and I'm learning to tap dance. And on top of all that, I happen to be cute as hell."
Alda, of course, is not the only one remembering Nakahara. Loretta Smith, who played Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan in the cult classic, also remembered Nakahara, saying that she was a "jewel, a treasure."
"She radiated sparkle and goodness and joy," she said. "The light that her presence brought will be deeply and forever missed."
Fans of the actress, who also notably appeared in the 1985 comedy Clue and the 1998 version of Doctor Dolittle, have also begun paying their respects, many mourning Nakahara's loss on social media.
"RIP to Kellye Nakahara," wrote one fan. "You were a familiar face all through M*A*S*H's run… You'll always be remembered by us MASH fans!"
"For a little kid from the sticks of East Texas, there weren't a lot of Asians on my television. Nurse Kellye was a smart, kind, and funny American who scared away stereotypes being fed to me. Representation matters," tweeted another. "Thank you. [RIP Kellye Nakahara]."
Nakahara died Sunday at her home in Pasadena, California following a battle with cancer, her family confirmed. She was 72.