Academy Award- Nominated Actor Sally Kellerman Dead At 84

Kellerman achieved worldwide movie fame for her role as Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan in Robert Altman's classic 1970 film “M*A*S*H.”

By: Feb. 24, 2022

Actress-singer Sally Kellerman, who achieved worldwide movie fame for her role as Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan in Robert Altman's classic 1970 film "M*A*S*H," with Donald Sutherland and Elliott Gould, died early this morning (Feb. 24) in her sleep from heart failure at her home in Woodland Hills. She was 84. For her iconic role, she was nominated as "Best Supporting Actress" by both the Oscars and Golden Globes. It was reported by her manager and publicist Alan Eichler.

Kellerman's career spanned more than 60 years, with roles in numerous major films and TV shows, including the original pilot for "Star Trek," the films "Back to School" with Rodney Dangerfield and several other Altman films including "Brewster McCloud," "Welcome to L.A.," "The Player," and "Pret-a-Porter."

Other films include "Last of the Red Hot Lovers" and "Rafferty and the Gold Dust Twins," both with Alan Arkin, "A Little Romance" with Laurence Olivier, "Foxes" with Jodie Foster, "Slither" with James Caan, and the Burt Bacharach-Hal David musical "Lost Horizon." Most recently, she had co-starring roles in the 2016 TV series "Decker" and "Maron," winning special acclaim for her roles as Mike Maron's bohemian mother Toni. In 2014, she was nominated for an Emmy as "Outstanding Best Guest Performer" for her appearances on "The Young and Restless."

Sally Clare Kellerman was born June 2, 1937 in Long Beach, CA to Edith Baine, a piano teacher from Portland, Arkansas, and Jack Kellerman, a Shell Oil executive from St. Louis, MO. THE FAMILY moved to San Fernando and later to Park LA BREA in Los Angeles, where she attended Hollywood High School.

Kellerman, whose initial interest was in singing, submitted a demo to Verve Records head Norman Grantz, and was signed to a contract at 18. She walked away, however, and didn't release an album until 1972, when she recorded the successful "Roll With the Feeling" for Decca Records. Barry Manilow produced her single "Triad" in 1973 and her last recording, the jazz-oriented "Sally," was released in 2007.

She attended Los Angeles City College and enrolled in an acting class with Jeff Corey. Within a year, she appeared in Corey's production of "Look Back in Anger" with fellow classmates Jack Nicholson, Shirley Knight, Dean Stockwell, and Robert Blake. She later joined the newly-opened Actors Studio West and made her screen debut in the 1957 "Reform School Girl."

Her initial success, however, started on television, beginning with a lead role on "Cheyenne" in 1962. She quickly became a popular guest star, appearing regularly on such shows as "The Twilight Zone, "The Outer Limits," "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour," "Bonanza," "Mannix," "I Spy," "Ben Casey," "Hotel," and "Columbo." She gained cult status with her starring role as Dr. Elizabeth Dehner in the "Star Trek" pilot and won special praise for her starring roles in "Verna: USO Girl" with Sissy Spacek in 1978, and Dorothy Parker's "Big Blonde" in 1980. The following year, 1981, she was one of the first women to host "Saturday Night Live."

Anxious to be accepted in movies, she finally was able to crossover with "M*A*S*H." Other films include the disaster spoof "The Big Bus," Blake Edwards' "That's Life" with Julie Andrews and Jack Lemmon, "Serial," "Moving Violations," "Someone to Love," "You Can't Hurry Love," "It's My Party," "Boris and Natasha," "Nightclub" with Ernest Borgnine and Mickey Rooney," "Boynton Beach Club," and "The Remake" in 2016.

Her only Broadway appearance was in the ill-fated 1966 musical remake of "Breakfast at Tiffany's" with Mary Tyler Moore and Richard Chamberlain, which closed during previews before it officially opened. Her other stage roles included "The Vagina Monologues" at the Cannon Theatre in Beverly Hills.

Kellerman was successful on the cabaret circuit, however, with numerous appearances at Reno Sweeney in New York, Feinstein's in both New York and San Francisco, and the Hollywood Roosevelt Cinegrill and Catalina Jazz Club in Hollywood.

She also became a popular voice-over artist with commercials for Hidden Valley Ranch, Mercedes Benz and Revlon and such animation work as "The Mouse and His Child," "Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird," "Happily Ever After," "Dinosaurs," "Unsupervised," and "The High Fructose Adventures of Annoying Orange."

She was briefly married to "Starsky and Hutch" producer Rick Edelstein from 1970-1972 and more successfully married producer Jonathan D. Krane in 1980, which lasted until Krane's death in 2016. They adopted Sally's niece Claire in 1987 and in 1989 adopted baby twins Jack Donald and Hannah Vaughan. Hannah passed away in 2016.

Kellerman published her memoir, "Read My Lips: Story of a Hollywood Life" in 2013, describing her trials and tribulations in the entertainment business. In 2018, when she was honored by the Ojai Art Center with a screening of "M*A*SH," she told the audience, "I've had such a lucky, wonderful life as an actress and singer. I have just had the most wonderful life."

Kellerman is survived by son Jack, daughter Claire and mother-in-law Lorraine Krane.

Services are pending.


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