Loretta Jane Swit (born November 4, 1937) is an American stage and television actress known for her character roles. Swit is best known for her portrayal of Major Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan on M*A*S*H.
Loretta was born in Passaic, New Jersey, of Polish descent. She studied with Gene Frankel in Manhattan and considered him her acting coach. She regularly returned to his studio to speak with aspiring actors throughout her career. Swit is also a singer who trained at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts before entering the theater. She graduated from Pope Pius XII High School in Passaic, NJ, in 1955.
Theatre acting careerEdit
In 1967, Swit toured with the national company of Any Wednesday, starring Gardner McKay. She continued as one of the Pigeon sisters opposite Don Rickles and Ernest Borgnine in a Los Angeles run of The Odd Couple. In 1975, Swit played in Same Time, Next Year on Broadway opposite Ted Bessell She also performed on Broadway in The Mystery of Edwin Drood. From there, she played Agnes Gooch in the Las Vegas version of Mame, starring Susan Hayward and later, Celeste Holm. Most recently, Swit has toured with The Vagina Monologues.
In October–November 2003, she starred as the title character in North Carolina Theatre production of Mamein Raleigh, North Carolina. In August–September 2010, Swit starred in the world premier of the Mark Miller play, Amorous Crossings at the Alhambra Dinner Theatre in Jacksonville, Florida, directed by Todd Booth.
When Loretta arrived in Hollywood in 1970, she appeared in guest roles in numerous CBS television shows, including Gunsmoke, Mission: Impossible, Hawaii Five-O, and Mannix, where she first acted with future M*A*S*H fellow cast member Larry Linville, who was a cast regular on the popular crime drama series at the time.
Starting in 1972, Loretta auditioned for and got selected to play the role of Major Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan in the television series M*A*S*H. She inherited the star-making role from actress Sally Kellerman, who portrayed Houlihan in the feature film. Swit was one of only four cast members (the others being Alan Alda, Jamie Farr, and William Christopher) to stay for all 11 seasons of the show, from 1972 to 1983. She and Alda were the only two actors to have been in both the pilot episode and the finale; she appeared in all but 11 of the total of 251 episodes. Swit received two Emmy Awards for her work on M*A*S*H. Later, she was also the first M*A*S*H star to visit South Korea, when she narrated the documentary Korea, the Forgotten War. Her favorite episodes are "Hot Lips & Empty Arms", "Margaret's Engagement" and "The Nurses".
Cagney & LaceyEdit
In 1981, Loretta played the "Christine Cagney" role in the movie pilot for the television series Cagney & Lacey, but was precluded by contractual obligations from continuing the role. Actress Meg Foster portrayed Cagney for the first six episodes of the television series, with Sharon Gless taking over the role from that point on.
Other TV appearancesEdit
Loretta also guest-starred in sitcoms such as The Love Boat, and game shows as Win, Lose or Draw, Match Game, Pyramid, and Hollywood Squares. She also starred in Christmas programs such as the television version of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever and 1987's PBS Special A Christmas Calendar. In 1992, she hosted the 26-part series Those Incredible Animals on the Discovery Channel. Swit's latest appearance was on GSN Live on October 10, 2008.
Musical Career and other interestsEdit
Swit joined neo-folk band, Roses Never Fade in 2012. They have begun recording an all star album for Neuropa records in Belgium. Alongside Mike Wisdom, Nathan Apocalypse, and Nicholas David Brewer (aka Nick Fiction). Many fans anticipate this all star albums release, Roses Never Fade 'In The Red Basement'. Loretta is also a gifted at equestrian, and over the years appeared in numerous national competitions, winning several. She shared her interest in horseback riding with former fellow M*A*S*H co-star Harry Morgan, and they even appear riding together horseback in the 4th season episode "Bug Out" as the 4077th was relocating back to their site in the second part of the two part episode.