Loretta Swit Poster


Jump to: Overview (2)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Family (3)  | Trade Mark (2)  | Trivia (15)  | Personal Quotes (9)

Overview (2)

Born in Passaic, New Jersey, USA
Height 5' 6" (1.68 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Equally versatile at comedy and drama, Loretta Swit was born on November 4, 1937, in Passaic, New Jersey. Her parents, Polish immigrants, were not in favor of her making a stab at a show business career. Performing on stage from age 7, however, nothing and nobody could deter her.

A natural singer who trained at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts before finding work in repertory companies, her features were deemed a bit too plain and hard for ingénue roles so she attempted musicals and light comedy, imbuing her characters with a snappy, comic edge. Beginning with the 1967 national touring company of "Any Wednesday", starring Gardner McKay, she forged ahead as a scene-stealing "Pigeon sister" opposite Don Rickles and Ernest Borgnine in an L.A. run of "The Odd Couple" and, from there, earned more laughs as the hopelessly awkward "Agnes Gooch" in the Las Vegas version of "Mame" starring Susan Hayward and (later) Celeste Holm.

Arriving in Hollywood in 1970, Loretta merited some attention by lightening up a number of dramas with her humorous, off-centered performances on such TV fare as Gunsmoke (1955), Mission: Impossible (1966), Hawaii Five-O (1968) and Mannix (1967). Her star-making role, however, came within two years of moving to the West Coast when she inherited Sally Kellerman's vitriolic "Hot Lips" Houlihan movie character for the TV series version of M*A*S*H (1972). She stayed with the show the entire eleven seasons and was Emmy-nominated every season the show was on the air (except the first).

Although Loretta's post-"M*A*S*H" career may appear less noteworthy (it would be hard to imagine anything that could top her bookend Emmy wins on the M*A*S*H series), she has nonetheless remained quite active and provided colorful support in a handful of films including S.O.B. (1981), Beer (1985), Whoops Apocalypse (1986), Forest Warrior (1996) and Beach Movie (1998). She also kept up her TV visibility with episodic appearances and occasional mini-movies, including originating the role of "Chris Cagney" in the TV pilot of Cagney & Lacey: Pilot (1981). Returning to singing on occasion, she also inherited the Linda Lavin role in the TV version of the stage musical It's a Bird... It's a Plane... It's Superman! (1975).

On stage, she made her Broadway debut opposite That Girl (1966)'s Ted Bessell in "Same Time, Next Year" in 1975 and later replaced Cleo Laine on Broadway in "The Mystery of Edwin Drood". Honored with the Sarah Siddons award for her title role in "Shirley Valentine" (over 1,000 performances) in Chicago, she has more recently toured in productions of "The Vagina Monologues" and played the musical title role of "Mame" in 2003. Loretta also was a five-season host of the 1992 cable-TV wildlife series "Those Incredible Animals" (1992).

After her smash success on "M*A*S*H," Loretta went the dramatic TV movie route with leads in such vehicles as The Execution (1985), Miracle at Moreaux (1985), Dreams of Gold: The Mel Fisher Story (1986), A Matter of Principal (1990) and Hell Hath No Fury (1991). She also appeared in a few guest spots on the series "The Love Boat," "Dolly," "Murder, She Wrote," "The New Burke's Law" and "Diagnosis Murder" before she left the big and small screens. After a decade, Loretta was spotted in the film drama Play the Flute (2019).

Off-stage, Loretta was once married to actor Dennis Holahan, whom she met on the set of M*A*S*H (1972), in 1983. They had no children and divorced in 1995. Her natural spark and trademark blonde, curly mane are more prevalent these days at animal activist fundraisers. A strict vegetarian, she has served as a spokesperson for the Humane Society of the United States and has been multi-honored for her long-time dedication and passion to animals. She is also the author of a book on needlepoint (A Needlepoint Scrapbook), runs her own line of jewelry and exhibits watercolor paintings. As a result, little has been seen of Loretta on film and TV, into the millennium.

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

Family (3)

Spouse Dennis Holahan (21 December 1983 - 1995)  (divorced)
Children None (no children)
Parents Lester Szwed
Nellie Szwed

Trade Mark (2)

Distinctive full lips
Bright blonde hair

Trivia (15)

Wanted to leave M*A*S*H (1972) after the 8th season, but FOX wouldn't let her out of her contract. She has said that she wanted to star in the series Cagney & Lacey (1981), after she made the pilot movie, but her MASH commitment prevented her from doing so.
Received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1989.
Wrote a book on needlepoint.
Wears a size 7 shoe.
During a M*A*S*H (1972) season hiatus, Loretta starred as "Chris Cagney" in the pilot episode of Cagney & Lacey (1981) in 1981. She wanted to leave the show, which was in its ninth season, to star as the police officer when the pilot was picked up. The "M*A*S*H" producers, however, wouldn't let her go. Meg Foster subbed in for Loretta, who in turn was replaced by Sharon Gless.
Her outspoken stand against the killing of fur-bearing animals for high-fashion wear has been rewarded with acknowledgments from the American Humane Society and the Animal Protection Institute of America. In addition, she teamed with Robert Redford for a PBS special centering on animal species that were threatened with extinction and is an active board member for Actors and Others for Animals, and other similar organizations.
Has her own line of jewelry which she has sold at jewelry shows across the nation.
Was in attendance at the wedding of Robert Wagner to Jill St. John.
Loretta Swit is starring in the world premiere performance of a comedy written by Mark Miller. The play is being performed at the renowned Alhambra Dinner Theatre, which is the oldest and longest-running dinner theatre in America. [August 2010]
Honored by the Pacific Pioneer Broadcaster in celebration of her career, which took place at the Sportsmen's Lodge in Studio City, California. [September 2008]
Dated Bill Hudson in the '70s.
Honeymooned with husband Dennis Holahan in Egypt. Became stepmother to his teenaged children, Nicholas and Belle.
Has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6240 Hollywood Blvd.
Alumna of the AADA (American Academy of Dramatic Arts), Class of 1959.
Was the only female regular cast member throughout the 11-season run of M*A*S*H (1972).

Personal Quotes (9)

Hot Lips changed a lot in eleven years. Initially Margaret Houlihan behaved as though a man were the only thing that could complete her life, and she didn't see what richness her life contained. She gained a lot of self-esteem through the years, and she came to realize that what she did, what she offered, was valuable. To oversimplify it, I took each traumatic change that happened in her life and kept it. I didn't discard anything. I didn't go on into the next episode as if it were a different character in a different play. She was a character in constant flux. She never stopped developing.
I mean, certain things had to remain the same. She had to remain one of the antagonists because that was the structure of the show. In the second season, we saw for the first time that she was unhappy with "Frank" and wanted more from her life. Then around the third or fourth year, in an episode called M*A*S*H: The Nurses (1976), "Hot Lips" gave the nurses a speech telling them how lonely she was because she was in charge and that's the way it was, so she couldn't really have any friends. Her marriage and her divorce changed her. Her affair with "Hawkeye" in M*A*S*H: Comrades in Arms: Part 1 (1977) changed both characters, so that they were never really rivals again.
Sometimes I would get letters from nurses saying how grateful they were that a nurse was finally being portrayed as a person, a caring human being. As far as the audience was concerned, I think it identifies with at least one or two or maybe all of us. We have become people to them and never caricatures. We're very real to them.
Larry Linville and I were very deep friends. Very often we would go behind the tents on the TV series M*A*S*H (1972) to work out scenes and then bring them to the Director.
I always wanted to be an actress. Luckily, my mother loved movies and we would go to double features and sit through both films twice.
I think of Alan Alda as a teacher. He is so involved in women's lib and has helped me to have confidence in myself. He is a gentle, kind man and I owe a lot of my transformation into a liberated person to him. (12 March 1979)
M*A*S*H (1972) is a classic. The writing, the execution, the production values... It was just a blessing. The whole experience was just a noble blessing, to work on those literary scripts. To work with family, friends, and colleagues who you loved -- every week! It doesn't surprise me that it continues to seduce generation after generation after generation.
I'm not interested in being married. I have a career and friends and things I care about doing. I don't want a lot of other demands. And, thanks to Alan [Alan Alda], who has deep insight about women, I don't feel guilty anymore about not wanting a family. My parents and friends are my family. (12 March 1979)
'Major Houlihan' (M*A*S*H (1972)) was unique at that time and in her time, which was the 50's when it was really happening. She became even more unique I think because we allowed her to continue to grow -- we watched her evolve. I don't think that's ever been done in quite that way, on what was labeled a 'sitcom' because other was no other word for it. I never think of it as a sitcom. If there was a category it was, but we had to be put somewhere so we were called a comedy.

See also

Other Works |  Publicity Listings |  Official Sites

View agent, publicist, legal and company contact details on IMDbPro Pro Name Page Link

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed