Loretta Swit

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Loretta Swit
Loretta Swit MASH 1972.JPG
Born Loretta Jane Swit
(1937-11-04) November 4, 1937 (age 77)
Passaic, New Jersey, U.S.
Occupation Actress
Years active 1967–present
Spouse(s) Dennis Holahan (1983–1995)
Signature Loretta Swit - signature.svg

Loretta Jane Swit (born November 4, 1937) is an American stage and television actress known for her character roles. Swit is best known for her portrayal of Major Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan on M*A*S*H.

Early life[edit]

Swit was born in Passaic, New Jersey, of Polish descent. Her parents were Lester and Nellie Szwed. She studied with Gene Frankel in Manhattan and considered him her acting coach. She regularly returned to his studio to speak with aspiring actors throughout her career. Swit is also a singer who trained at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts before entering the theater. She graduated from Pope Pius XII High School in Passaic, NJ, in 1955, and soon thereafter began working as a stenographer in Bloomfield, New Jersey.

Theatre[edit]

In 1967, Swit toured with the national company of Any Wednesday, starring Gardner McKay. She continued as one of the Pigeon sisters opposite Don Rickles and Ernest Borgnine in a Los Angeles run of The Odd Couple.

In 1975, Swit played in Same Time, Next Year on Broadway opposite Ted Bessell.[1] She also performed on Broadway in The Mystery of Edwin Drood. From there, she played Agnes Gooch in the Las Vegas version of Mame, starring Susan Hayward and later, Celeste Holm. Most recently, Swit has toured with The Vagina Monologues.

In October–November 2003, she starred as the title character in North Carolina Theatre production of Mame in Raleigh, North Carolina.[2]

In August–September 2010, Swit starred in the world premier of the Mark Miller play, Amorous Crossings at the Alhambra Dinner Theatre in Jacksonville, Florida, directed by Todd Booth.

Television[edit]

When Swit arrived in Hollywood, starting in 1969 she performed guest roles in various television series, including Hawaii Five-O (her first TV credit); Gunsmoke; Mission: Impossible; and Mannix.

M*A*S*H[edit]

The cast of M*A*S*H from Season 2, 1974 (clockwise from left): Loretta Swit, Larry Linville, Wayne Rogers, Gary Burghoff, McLean Stevenson, and Alan Alda.

Starting in 1972, Swit played the sassy and beautiful blonde head nurse Major Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan in the television series M*A*S*H. She inherited the star-making role from actress Sally Kellerman, who portrayed Houlihan in the feature film. Swit was one of only four cast members to stay for all 11 seasons of the show, from 1972 to 1983 (the others being Alan Alda, Jamie Farr, and William Christopher).

She and Alda were the only actors to have been in both the pilot episode and the finale; she appeared in all but 11 of the total of 251 episodes. Swit received two Emmy Awards for her work on M*A*S*H. Later, she was also the first M*A*S*H star to visit South Korea, when she narrated the documentary Korea, the Forgotten War.

Her favorite episodes are "Hot Lips & Empty Arms", "Margaret's Engagement" and "The Nurses".[3]

She also had a close relationship with Harry Morgan, who played Colonel Sherman T. Potter. They became neighbors, after the series ended, until his death on December 7, 2011.[4] As the series drew to a close, Swit continues to stay close to Alda, along with his wife, 3 daughters and 7 grandchildren.[5]

Cagney & Lacey[edit]

In 1981, Swit played the "Christine Cagney" role in the movie pilot for the television series Cagney & Lacey, but was precluded by contractual obligations from continuing the role. Actress Meg Foster portrayed Cagney for the first six episodes of the television series, with Sharon Gless taking over the role from that point on.

Other TV work[edit]

Swit also guest-starred in shows such as The Love Boat, Win, Lose or Draw, Gunsmoke, Match Game, Pyramid, The Muppet Show, and Hollywood Squares. On one episode of Match Game, Swit wrote the Polish greeting "Dzień dobry" (even with the diacritical mark) on her card during the introduction. She also starred in Christmas programs such as the television version of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever and 1987's PBS Special A Christmas Calendar.[6] In 1992 she hosted the 26-part series Those Incredible Animals on the Discovery Channel. Swit's latest appearance was on GSN Live on October 10, 2008.

Filmography[edit]

Personal life[edit]

Swit at the Farm Sanctuary 25th Anniversary Gala in New York City in 2011

Swit married actor Dennis Holahan in 1983 and divorced him in 1995. Holahan played Per Johannsen, a Swedish diplomat who became briefly involved with Swit's character in an episode of M*A*S*H. Swit has not remarried and has no children.

Swit has written a book on needlepoint (A Needlepoint Scrapbook). Swit is a very strong advocate for animals and animal rights, donating much of her time to animal-related causes.

In her 1986 book A Needlepoint Scrapbook, she declares that "We are Ms. Pac-Man fanatics in our house." She owns a Ms. Pac-Man machine. The book also includes a Ms. Pac-Man needlepoint design.

In the 1980s Swit supported efforts of Dr. R Adams Cowley, founder of the nation's first shock trauma unit at University of Md. Swit helped bring attention to his use of helicopters to transport injured civilians to shock trauma centers since 1969.

Awards and honors[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Barnes, Clive (February 21, 1976). "Stage: 'Same Time,' 1976". The New York Times. Retrieved November 7, 2011. 
  2. ^ "North Carolina Theatre". Nctheatre.com. Retrieved May 17, 2011. 
  3. ^ M*A*S*H: The Martinis & Medicine Collection - Special Features: Disc 1 - "My Favorite MASH"
  4. ^ "RIP Harry Morgan [Archive". The Gear Page. Retrieved March 7, 2013. 
  5. ^ http://www.people.com/people/archive/article/0,,20073125,00.html
  6. ^ A Christmas Calendar (1987) Retrieved Oct 26, 2008

External links[edit]