Sally Kellerman Poster


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Overview (3)

Born in Long Beach, California, USA
Birth NameSally Clare Kellerman
Height 5' 10" (1.78 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Sally Kellerman arrived quite young on the late 1950s film and TV scene with a fresh and distinctively weird, misfit presence. It is this same uniqueness that continues to makes her such an attractively offbeat performer today. The willowy, swan-necked, flaxen-haired actress shot to film comedy fame after toiling nearly a decade and a half in the business, and is still most brazenly remembered for her career-maker -- the irreverent hit MASH (1970), for which she received supporting Oscar and Golden Globe nominations. From there she went on to enjoy a number of other hallmark moments as both an actress and a vocalist.

California native Sally Clare Kellerman was born on June 2, 1937, in Long Beach, to Edith Baine (Vaughn), a piano teacher, and John Helm Kellerman, a Shell Oil Company executive. Raised along with her sister in the San Fernando Valley area, Sally was attracted to the performing arts after seeing Marlon Brando star in the film Viva Zapata! (1952). Attending the renowned Hollywood High School as a teenager, she sang in musical productions while there, including a version of "Meet Me in St. Louis". Following graduation, she enrolled at Los Angeles City College but left after a year when enticed by acting guru Jeff Corey's classes.

Initially inhibited by her height (5'10"), noticeably gawky and slinky frame and wide slash of a mouth, Sally proved difficult to cast at first but finally found herself up for the lead role in Otto Preminger's "A"-level film Saint Joan (1957). She lost out in the end, however, when Preminger finally decided to give the role of Joan of Arc to fellow newcomer Jean Seberg. Hardly compensation, 20-year-old Sally made her film debut that same year as a girls' reformatory inmate who threatens the titular leading lady in the cult "C" juvenile delinquent drama Reform School Girl (1957) starring "good girl" Gloria Castillo and "bad guy" Edd Byrnes of "777 Sunset Strip" teen idol fame, an actor she met and was dating after attending Corey's workshops. Directed by infamous lowbudget horror film Samuel Z. Arkoff, her secondary part in the film did little in the way of advancing her career. At the same time Sally pursued a singing career, earning a recording contract with Verve Records.

The 1960s was an uneventful but growing period for Kellerman, finding spurts of quirky TV roles in both comedies ("Bachelor Father," "My Three Sons," "Dobie Gillis" and "Ozzie and Harriet") and dramas ("Lock Up," "Surfside 6," "Cheyenne," "The Outer Limits," "The Rogues," "Slattery's People" and the second pilot of "Star Trek"). Sally's sophomore film was just as campy as the first but her part was even smaller. As an ill-fated victim of the Hands of a Stranger (1962), the oft-told horror story of a concert pianist whose transplanted hands become deadly, the film came and went without much fanfare. Studying later at Los Angeles' Actors' Studio (West), Sally's roles increased toward the end of the 1960s with featured parts in more quality filming, including The Third Day (1965), The Boston Strangler (1968) (as a target for killer Tony Curtis) and The April Fools (1969).

Sally's monumental break came, of course, via director Robert Altman when he hired her for, and she created a dusky-voiced sensation out of, the aggressively irritating character Major Margaret ("Kiss My 'Hot Lips'") Houlihan. Her highlighting naked-shower scene in the groundbreaking cinematic comedy MASH (1970) had audiences ultimately laughing and gasping at the same time. Both she and the film were a spectacular success with Sally the sole actor to earn an Oscar nomination for her marvelous work here. She shouldn't have lost but did to the overly spunky veteran Helen Hayes in Airport (1970).

Becoming extremely good friends with Altman during the movie shoot, Sally went on to film a couple more of the famed director's more winning and prestigious films of the 1970s, beginning with her wildly crazed "angelic" role in Brewster McCloud (1970), and finishing up brilliantly as a man-hungry real estate agent in his Welcome to L.A. (1976), directed by Alan Rudolph. Sally later regretted not taking the Karen Black singing showcase role in one of Altman's best-embraced films, Nashville (1975), when originally offered.

Putting out her first album, "Roll With the Feelin'" for Decca Records around this time (1972), Sally continued to be a quirky comedy treasure in both co-star and top supporting roles of the 1970s. She was well cast neurotically opposite Alan Arkin in the Neil Simon comedy Last of the Red Hot Lovers (1972) and again alongside ex-con James Caan as a sexy but loony delight in Slither (1973), a precursor to the Coen Bros.' darkly comic films. She also co-starred and contributed a song ("Reflections") to the Burt Bacharach/Hal David soundtrack of the Utopian film Lost Horizon (1973), a musical picture that proved lifeless at the box office.

More impressive work came with the movies A Little Romance (1979) as young Diane Lane's quirky mom; Foxes (1980) as Jodie Foster's confronting mother; Serial (1980), a California comedy satire starring Martin Mull; That's Life! (1986), a social comedy with Jack Lemmon and Julie Andrews; and Back to School (1986), comic Rodney Dangerfield's raucous vehicle hit.

Kellerman's films from the 1980s on have been pretty much a mixed bag. While some, such as the low-grade Moving Violations (1985), Meatballs III: Summer Job (1986), Doppelganger (1993) American Virgin (1999) and Women of the Night (2001) have been completely unworthy of her talents, her presence in others have been, at the very least, catchy such as her Natasha Fatale opposite Dave Thomas' Boris Badenov in Boris and Natasha (1992); director Percy Adlon's inventive Younger and Younger (1993), which reunited her with MASH co-star Donald Sutherland, and in Robert Altman's rather disjointed, ill-received all-star effort Ready to Wear (1994) in which she plays a fashion magazine editor.

When her quality film output faltered in later years, Sally lent a fine focus back to her singing career and made a musical dent as a deep-voiced blues and jazz artist. She started hitting the Los Angeles and New York club circuits with solo acts. In 2009, Kellerman released her first album since "Roll With The Feelin'" simply titled "Sally," a jazz and blues-fused album. Along those same lines, Sally played a nightclub singer in the comedy Limit Up (1989) and later co-starred in the movie Night Club (2011) where friends and residents start a club in a retirement home. Sally's seductively throaty voice has also put her in good standing as a voice-over artist of commercials, feature films and TV.

Divorced in the 1970s from TV writer/director Rick Edelstein, Sally later married Jonathan D. Krane. She has three adopted children.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net

Spouse (2)

Jonathan D. Krane (11 May 1980 - 1 August 2016) (his death) (3 children)
Rick Edelstein (19 December 1970 - 6 March 1972) (divorced)

Trade Mark (4)

Major Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan in Robert Altman's seminal film MASH (1970)
Statuesque, model-like figure
Platinum blonde hair
Deep smoky voice

Trivia (17)

Harrison Ford built her a deck when he supported himself as a carpenter.
Supplements her ongoing film career with stints as a nightclub singer, television and radio narrator and voice-overs.
Member of Actors' Equity Association, Screen Actors Guild, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.
Adopted her niece Claire (born 1965) in 1976. Claire's mother (Sally's sister) moved to France and her father died two days after his consent to adopt. Sally is also the adoptive mother of two twins, Jack and Hannah Krane (born 1989) with second husband Jonathan D. Krane.
Resided at the Plaza Hotel in New York City during the filming of Last of the Red Hot Lovers (1972).
Donfeld designed her Academy Award dress the year she was nominated for MASH (1970).
In 1973, declined former editor-in-chief of Vogue magazine Grace Mirabella's offer of a 10 page spread.
Turned down roles in Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969), The Poseidon Adventure (1972), and Robert Altman's Nashville (1975).
The late Jennifer Jones was her mentor and close confidante. They took group therapy together. Among them were Robert Loggia, Blake Edwards, Dudley Moore, and Jonathan D. Krane whom eventually, she would marry.
Luana Anders, Anjanette Comer, Lisabeth Hush and Joanne Linville were among some of her bridesmaids in 1970 - Kellerman's first marriage.
Friend of John Travolta and Kelly Preston.
Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival presented her with a Lifetime Achievement Award at Cinema Paradiso-Fort Lauderdale. [April 2013]
Released her first album since "Roll with the Feelin", entitled "Sally", a jazz and blues album. [February 2009]
Atlanta, Georgia: Attended a special screening of MASH (1970). Gave three performances at Jerry Farber's Side Door. [June 2012]
Released her autobiography, "Read My Lips: Stories of a Hollywood Life". [April 2013]
While in high school, she and Yvette Mimieux sang with the all-male quartet The Four Preps.
She and Luana Anders were best friends in high school.

Personal Quotes (9)

I always wanted to be an actress. My mother told me to get a job as an elevator operator - because Dorothy Lamour was discovered that way.
I hope to have some more cracks at some wonderful roles before I go to the Great Beyond.
It hasn't been smooth or delightful every minute, there were lean years and rough years, but it's been exciting and good and I'm thrilled to be an actress and a singer and to have spent my life this way.
[on coming to the role of Major Margaret "Hot Lips" O'Houlihan] Soon after The April Fools (1969) my agent called me about an audition. I didn't know anything about the director or who, if anyone, had already been cast. The only thing my agent said was that I was reading for the part of Lt. Dish (later played by Jo Ann Pflug), so I thought that I had better put on some red lipstick to look more "dish-y". The audition room was full of men, scattered about, none of whom I recognized. I didn't even know which one was the director. I guess I did well because, all of a sudden, one of the men--he had the longest fingers I've ever seen, like birds about to take flight--said, "I'll give you the best role in the picture: Hot Lips." "Really?" I said. I was so excited. Finally! The best role in something. I thanked the long-fingered man, took the script, and rushed outside. I didn't even want to get home before I cracked open the script to get a better look at this "best" role in the picture. Leaning against the building, I began thumbing through the pages looking for my part. And looking. And still looking. Nothing. On page forty, maybe I found a single line. Later I found a few more. Fourteen years in Hollywood and my "best role" is the nine-line part of a solider named Hot Lips? I staggered home, angry and bitter, and I called my agent, indignant. "There's nothing to this part!" I told him. "This guy is supposed to be really talented," he said, trying to calm me down. "I really think you should do it." I later learned that fifteen directors had said no to this film before Robert Altman had said yes. So I read the script again and then agreed to take another meeting with Altman, it was just the two of us this time, and I arrived in a huff. I didn't know him from Adam, but I hated him for thinking he could fool me. Hot Lips was a memory before the script was even halfway over. But as long I had come this far, I was going to tell him what I thought. "Why does she have to leave in the middle of the film?" I began. I had spent years playing roles on TV. I was already thirty-one years old. I didn't want a career playing hard-bitten drunks in Chanel suits who get slapped by their husbands. This movie was supposed to be a comedy. Hell. I'd done two episodes of Bonanza (1959) just to prove I could be funny. I was capable of so much more than a few lines. I was capable of a "best" role--and so was my character. "I'm not just some WAC--I'm a woman!" "So why can't she do this? And why can't she do that?" I shouted at Altman. I was ranting. When I finally came up for air, Bob just casually leaned back in his chair. He said, simply, "Why couldn't she? You could end up with something or nothing. Why not take a chance?". The minute he said that, something in my shifted. Here I was having a tantrum in his office, and there he was leaning back in his chair, smiling. Everything about him was comfortable and relaxed. So sure. So it was settled. The role of Hot Lips O'Houlihan was mine. The movie was MASH (1970).
[on Brewster McCloud (1970)] Okay, MASH (1970) was a big hit, so let's do something obscure. I think he (Robert Altman) made up my part because he wanted to work together. I loved it. He gave me wing scars and let me sing "Rock-a-bye Baby" to Bud Cort. I stopped people on the road to tell them about Bob and how I loved Bob and how I'd do anything for Bob, And of course he took full advantage and he put me sitting naked in the fountain. To his credit it was a long lens and there was nobody in the streets, and I was this bird, this fairy godmother. Why I did these things... All I know is we had a great time. I remember Bob had the police chief come over and he'd have these big bowls of grass sitting around. I don't know if the guy knew or if he didn't.
[on her Academy Award nomination] it may sound like a cliché when someone who's up for an Academy Award says, "It's an honor just to be nominated," but it really is an incredible honor. Yes, it's true that the coolest thing is doing the work, being on the set, having a part you can sink your teeth into, and 5 am burritos and doughnuts at craft services or hanging out in the makeup trailer. But being nominated is amazing because it's your peers' acknowledgment of your work. That's humbling!
[on Sissy Spacek] On the set of Welcome to L.A. (1976), I had the joy of meeting the oh-so lovely and adorable Sissy Spacek. Sissy played my topless housekeeper and was a sheer delight. Memories of her Texas draw still bring a smile to my face.
[on Rodney Dangerfield] I remember he was being honored one evening and invited me to come along with him and his date. We had a lot of fun, and when we got back to the car, I said, "Rodney, you're going to have to come up to the house for dinner." The look on his face said it all: "I'd rather get in a helicopter and jump." I howled. The rejection wasn't personal. Rodney was a night club guy. He didn't want to have a nice, quiet dinner with Jonathan and me, he wanted to be in Vegas!
I didn't know anything about building careers. Somehow I still have a career.

Salary (1)

MASH (1970) $50,000

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