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July 3, 2013

'Read My Lips' may not be a memoir for everyone

Sometimes an actor or actress can be defined by a singular performance. Everyone remembers Vivian Leigh as Scarlett O’Hara in “Gone With the Wind,“ but most people would be hard pressed to name any of her other films (I can name one, “Caesar & Cleopatra,” only because I saw it for a class in college). This type of “one hit wonder” usually occurs when the actor or actress is cast in an unforeseen blockbuster and is forever identified with a certain character.

Sally Kellerman is a good example of that. She is now 76 years old (hard to believe!) and has enjoyed a highly successful acting career spanning over half a century. Her film credits include the epic “M*A*S*H” in 1970, the adorable “A Little Romance” in 1979 and the hilarious “Back to School” with Rodney Dangerfield in 1986. She also appeared in the second pilot of “Star Trek” in 1966, but I couldn’t tell you another film or television show in which she took part.

“M*A*S*H” was the film that made her. It’s one of the greatest comedy classics of all-time, and inspired the long-running hit television series. “M*A*S*H,” which stands for Mobile Army Surgical Hospital, covers the hi-jinx and surgical exploits of a medical unit during the Korean War. The surgeons are all top-notch but enjoy having over-the-top fun during their down time. 

Kellerman was cast as the blonde bombshell head nurse, Major Margaret “Hot Lips” Hoolahan, who is a straight-arrow, by-the-book Army officer. When asked where she is from she replies she likes to think of the Army as her home. We witness her transformation from a stickler for Army regulations to becoming part of the wild side of the “M*A*S*H” unit. Hoolahan is probably the most memorable character in the movie.

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