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For Sally Kellerman, M*A*S*H was a dream.
“Working on the set was like going to summer camp.”
The film shot on 20th Century Fox's Century Ranch in Malibu and found her working with a talented cast and crew at a time when she was ready for her career to take off.
“For someone like me, it was heaven: I was out in the open air, working with a director I now knew to be brilliant.”
Read more about her memories below!
1. Kellerman auditioned for another part.
She originally auditioned for the part of Lieutenant Dish. However, Altman saw her potential and told her that he was going to give her the best part in the movie – Hot Lips. Kellerman, who was hoping for her big break, was surprised, however, to find that the “best part” only gave her a small number of lines. Her hesitancy at taking the part was cured after a meeting with the director, and the role became a stand-out in her career.
2. A shrink helped Kellerman with that scene.
Sally was especially nervous about her nude scene – for obvious reasons. So to be mentally prepared, she decided to prepare by revealing herself to her shrink. His response: “That’s it?” Kellerman wrote in her autobiography, “As long as he didn't recoil in horror, that was good enough for me.” When the time came to film, other cast members such as Gary Burghoff and Tamara Wilcox-Smith help her by standing naked in solidarity or doing goofy bits off camera.
3. Kellerman wasn’t supposed to stay for the whole film.
Hot Lips was originally going to leave after her embarrassing shower encounter. However, Altman was inspired by Kellerman’s performance and the vulnerability that she brought to the character. As a result, he decided to keep her character around and added her to additional scenes. One of her favorite moments was the football game. She wrote, “Cheerleading was maybe the most fun I have ever had in my life. I got to be goofy and silly.”
4. Sutherland and Gould were pranksters.
Donald Sutherland and Elliot Gould teased Kellerman constantly on the set by inviting her to do something and then pretending they never made plans. They even pretended to stand her up on her birthday, but popped out at the last minute with chocolates. Kellerman wrote, “Six months after the picture wrapped, we had a reunion lunch. We all kissed and made up, joking about how mean they were to me. I think I laughed. Maybe.”