Monday, April 15, 2024

RIP The Great Sally Kellerman, 84, The Original Hot Lips Houlihan from “MASH”


I was at the screening of “The Batman” when news broke of Sally Kellerman’s death. She was 84 and had been in declining health for some time.

Sally was the original Hot Lips Houlihan from Robert Altman’s movie, “MASH.” She was an Altman favorite and long time friend of both Bob and Kathryn Altman. Bob featured her in many other films including Brewster McCloud, Ready to Wear, The Player and the Altman-produced “Welcome to L.A.” directed by Alan Rudolf.

Her first film was “Reform School Girl” in 1957. She went on to spend most of the 1960s in various television appearances, with her big break coming in “MASH.” She earned an Oscar nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, as well as nominations for a Golden Globe and the Kansas City Film Critics Circle award for Best Supporting Actress.

Sally had a sly sense of humor that was also very sexy. Whenever she appeared on screen, she had a distinct personality that set her apart from all other actresses. She was also smart, and quick, which gave her a foot up in roles. She was very good at droll satire, which is why Altman liked her so much. I don’t know if Bill Persky’s “Serial” from 1980 is around, but it’s worth finding to her in it. Some of her other movies were “Last of the Red Hot Lovers,” “Slither,” “The April Fools,” and “Back to School,” as well as television shows Star Trek, The Twilight Zone, Bonanza, and The Outer Limits.

I was lucky enough to know Sally over the years. Unfortunately, she was married to a sketchy guy who had financial troubles, producer Jonathan Krane, once the partner of John Travolta. He died a few years ago. Krane had worked for producer-director Blake Edwards who felt that Krane had not been above board with him. But she was one of those great ladies, with a big smile and a hearty laugh who embraced everyone. She will be sorely missed.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

Read more

In Other News