Loretta Swit loved playing Maj. Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan so much that she stayed on the seminal hit "MASH" from the first season to the last, even as various high-profile cast members came and went.
"There is, I think, an intelligence behind the humor," she told the L.A. Times in 1977. "The audience is huge, and they deserve to be entertained on the highest level we can achieve."
Swit, as the libido-driven blond in fatigues and Army boots, earned 10 Emmy nominations during the show's 11-season run; she won twice for best supporting actress in a comedy.
Though Houlihan catapulted Swit to household-name status, she'd been acting since before her 8th birthday in stage productions and musicals in New York. She left home at 17 to work in the theater, temping at secretarial jobs while studying at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. A confessed workaholic, Swit moved easily from comedy to drama, acting in "Same Time, Next Year," "Mame" and "The Odd Couple" before moving to Los Angeles to star in "MASH." She also appeared in iconic '70s series such as "Hawaii Five-O," "Mission: Impossible" and "Mannix."
Swit, a longtime advocate for animals and a spokeswoman for the Humane Society of the U.S., hosted the cable show "Those Incredible Animals" for five seasons in the '90s. She's worked on stage in recent years, starring as the title character in a revival of "Mame" and touring with "The Vagina Monologues."