(born November 4 1937
) is an American stage and television actress, primarily known for her character-type roles. The naturally blonde-headed Swit is best known for her two-time Emmy
-winning portrayal of Major Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan
, on M*A*S*H
Swit was born in Passaic, New Jersey
, to Polish-Catholic immigrants
. 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 talented singer who trained at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts before entering the theater.
In 1967, Swit toured with the national company of Any Wednesday
, starring Gardner McKay
. She would continue on 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 Mame in Raleigh, North Carolina.
When Swit arrived in Hollywood in 1970, she performed in television shows including Gunsmoke
, Mission: Impossible
, Hawaii Five-O
Starting in 1972, Swit played the character of Major Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan
in the television series M*A*S*H
. She inherited the star-making role from the similarly large-mouthed actress Sally Kellerman
, who portrayed the character in the feature film. Swit, Alan Alda
, Jamie Farr
and William Christopher
stayed for all 11 seasons of the show, from 1972 to 1983. She along with Alda, Christopher, and Farr, all had on- and off-screen chemistry with each other, and spent a great deal of time with each other.
She and Alda were the only two actors to have been on the pilot episode and the finale. She did not appear in only 11 out of the total of 251 episodes. Swit received two Emmy
Awards for her work on M*A*S*H. Later, Swit was also the first M*A*S*H
star to visit South Korea
when she narrated the documentary Korea, the Forgotten War
Cagney & Lacey
In 1981, Swit played the Cagney
role in the movie pilot for the television series Cagney & Lacey
, but was precluded by contractual obligations from continuing the role.
Other TV work
She also guest starred in shows such as The Love Boat
, Match Game
, and the latest is Hollywood Squares
. She also starred in the television version of "The
Best Christmas Pageant Ever." Loretta's latest appearance was on GSN Live
on October 10th, 2008.
Swit married actor Dennis Holahan
in 1983 and divorced him in 1995. Holahan played the part of Per Johannsen, a Swedish
diplomat who became briefly involved with Swit's character in an episode of M*A*S*H
. Swit has not remarried and has no children.
Swit has written a book on needlepoint (Needlepoint Scrapbook). She also has her own line of jewelry, which is sold at stores across the United States.
Swit is a very strong advocate for animals and animal rights, donating much of her time to animal-related causes. Over the years she has owned horses, dogs and cats. Presently, she owns three cats and a horse.
In her 1986 book Needlepoint Scrapbook, she declares that "We are Ms. Pac-Man fanatics in our house." She owns a Ms. Pac-Man machine. The book also includes a Ms. Pac-Man needlepoint design.
Awards and honours