‘M*A*S*H’ Star Loretta Swit Once Described Impact of Show’s Legacy
M*A*S*H actress Loretta Swit once opened up about how proud she is of the show’s legacy amongst its fans.
“I’m going to paraphrase what someone wrote in a telegram when we ended the show,” Swit once explained. “It said, ‘Dear M*A*S*H folk: You made me laugh. You made me cry. You made me feel. Thank you.’ I’ve never forgotten that. That’s one hell of a legacy.”
While Swit is proud of her legacy, the actress thinks that M*A*S*H can’t be recreated. The series starred Swit as Major Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan, for which she won two Emmys. It followed the doctors and nurses of the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital and took place during the Korean War in the 1950s. She feels that this setting worked better than a modern one could.
“Years ago, someone commented on how M*A*S*H couldn’t be put together and sold today. So much has changed; TV, the whole concept of reality shows and the number of channels. We weren’t a military show and I don’t think I’d want to watch one about behind the lines in Afghanistan.”
Additionally, Swit was the only female lead on the show. The rest of the cast included Alan Alda, Wayne Rogers, McLean Stevenson, and many others. As a result, she found herself frequently campaigning for better, more nuanced plot lines for her character.
“The guys in control would say to me ‘It’s just an episodic,’ and I would say ‘If you’ve got a long-run series then there’s always got to be room for growth,’” Swit said. “Of all the places you’d be inclined to grow, I certainly think somewhere you’re in danger every day and healing people every day would be just the right place.”
What Swit Has Been Up to Since M*A*S*H
For Swit, acting is a lifelong passion. While she started acting at seven, the M*A*S*H actress is still going strong in her eighties. She continued her onscreen career for several decades. Interestingly, she was the original pick to play Christine Cagney in Cagney & Lacey, but had to drop out due to contractual obligations to M*A*S*H. Swit also had a number of guest-starring roles on highly popular shows such as The Love Boat and Murder She Wrote. She last appeared in a movie called Play the Flute.
Additionally, the actress made the transition into theatre. Among her stage credits are The Odd Couple, Same Time, Next Year, and The Vagina Monologues. In fact, she recently starred in a production of Middletown in Coral Gables Florida.
Swit also developed a passion for animal rights. She started a charity called the SwitHeart Animal Alliance, which works towards both the care of animals and the preservation of their habitats. Animal rights is a worthy cause to use her platform for.