M*A*S*H actress Sally Kellerman dies aged 84

 (Rex Features)
(Rex Features)

Oscar-nominated actress Sally Kellerman, famed for her role as uptight nurse “Hot Lips” Houlihan in Robert Altman’s 1970 film M*A*S*H, has passed away at the age of 84.

Kellerman died of heart failure at her home in the Woodland Hills section of Los Angeles, her manager and publicist revealed.

Her official Facebook page later announced her death, writing: “It is with great sadness that we report the passing of our beloved Sally Kellerman, who died peacefully in her sleep early this morning, Feb. 24.

“Her career spanned 60 years in which she gave us hundreds of hours of TV and movie magic, not to mention her wonderful singing.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

“She will be missed, but her performances will last forever.

“R.I.P. dear lady.”

Kellerman was perhaps best known for playing Major Houlihan, a straitlaced, by-the-book Army nurse who is tormented by rowdy doctors during the Korean War in the army comedy “MASH.”

In the film’s key scene, and its peak moment of misogyny, a tent where Houlihan is showering is pulled open and she is exposed to an audience of cheering men.

“This isn’t a hospital, this is an insane asylum!” she screams at her commanding officer.

She carries on a torrid affair with the equally uptight Major Frank Burns, played by Robert Duvall, demanding that he kiss her “hot lips” in a moment secretly broadcast over the camp’s public address speakers, earning her the nickname.

Comedian and podcaster Marc Maron paid tribute to his on-screen mum, writing: “Sally Kellerman was radiant and beautiful and fun and so great to work with.

“She played my mom on my series ‘Maron.’ My real mom was very flattered and a bit jealous. I’m sad she’s gone. RIP”

Close friend Nancy Sinatra added: “More sad news on a horrible day.”

Actress Lorna Luft wrote on Facebook: “Sally Kellerman was so many extraordinary things but the four that come to my mind are generous, funny, talented, and truly loved by my family fly high my friend. My love and thoughts are with Jack and the family.

“I was honoured to be her friend.”

Kellerman first won adulation for her role on Star Trek before later playing a college professor who was returning student Rodney Dangerfield’s love interest in the 1986 comedy “Back to School.”

She was a regular in Altman’s films, appearing in 1970′s “Brewster McCloud,” and 1992′s “The Player”.