After M*A*S*H ended, Loretta Swit got fed up and declared all these interview questions off-limits

No. 1 on the list: Do not even think about asking about M*A*S*H!

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In the sixth season of M*A*S*H, there came an episode where Major Margaret Houlihan seriously worried she might be pregnant.

The only logical solution to test if she was pregnant or not? Obviously, Hawkeye had to perform surgery to extract the ovaries from Radar's pet rabbit to perform a pregnancy test.

In "What's Up, Doc?", Loretta Swit performed one of Margaret's most complicated moments when she confronts the reality that having a baby might end her military career. According to an interview that year with the Associated Press, Swit actually ended up with an odd little keepsake from this particular episode.

"I got a pewter rabbit from the woman whose idea it was that Margaret think she's pregnant and the only available rabbit for the test was Radar's pet," Swit said.

Swit never named the woman who gifted her the pewter rabbit, but she said that this memento led her to start a collection of pewter and silver rabbits. So next time you watch this particular episode, remember that Radar's rabbit's sacrifice left a much longer impression on Margaret than you might think!

For Swit, in early interviews when she was appearing on M*A*S*H, the actor was generous, sharing with reporters intimate details from her life, both behind the scenes of the show and beyond.

In 1975, the UPI called Swit chatty and listed off the things she spoke about during their interview: "Loretta Swit — 5-foot-5, 117 pounds, ash blonde, green eyes — loves to talk. She also loves Szechuan food, cooking, reading, old horror movies, collecting porcelain figures, tennis, needlepoint, painting in watercolor, charcoal sketching, Renoir, Pissarro and Edward Hopper."

However, it turns out that as Swit did more and more interviews, she began to grow less chatty and more tight-lipped. By 1995, Swit was done talking about a lot of stuff in her life, including M*A*S*H.

A reporter for The Los Angeles Times wrote in 1995 (under the catty headline "Major Houlihan to Major Bummer") that an interview request with Swit generated a list of guidelines the reporter would have to follow if they wanted to talk to the actor.

Why was Swit so distant after so much time? She said the press had abused her, and she refused to do interviews with anyone who wouldn't sign a written form promising not to abuse her.

"If you can agree that you can abide by these guidelines, we will arrange an interview with Ms. Swit," her press team promised the Times reporter.

Among the guidelines was a strict order not to ask about M*A*S*H, as well as guidelines for how to refer to Swit's M*A*S*H character, should the writer feel they must mention M*A*S*H in their story.

"There is no real purpose served by questions relating to Ms. Swit's role as Major Margaret Houlihan in the television series M*A*S*H, which ended 12 years ago," the form read, continuing to say, "If there is any reference in your piece to Ms. Swit's role in M*A*S*H, her character is not to be referred to as the derogatory 'Hot Lips'; she should be referred to as 'Major Margaret Houlihan.'"

The form goes on to almost point directly to Swit stories like that Inquirer piece quoted above as being guilty of very bad behavior.

"Ms. Swit's personal life and privacy are not the topic of this interview, therefore we ask that these aspects of her life be respected. We ask that you refrain from asking such questions as those which relate to where she lives, past, present or future romances, hair color… age, family, weight, height, religion, and other questions of personal and private nature."

The Times reporter declined to interview Swit because of all the rules, and it's likely that many others made the same decision, contributing to the mystique that has long surrounded Swit, who is perhaps the most guarded out of all the M*A*S*H cast. Not much is known about her personal life.

In 1978, though, Swit was still feeling chatty enough to spill a little to the Associated Press. She told the newspaper that she called her house "Chateau M*A*S*H" and although she lived alone, she usually had no trouble finding company.

"I have boyfriends, and I was almost married recently," Swit said.

Comparing herself to Margaret in 1978, Swit said there were certain aspects of the character that resonated true to her nature, too.

"We're both career ladies," Swit said. "We both like to be efficient. I appreciate sensuality. I share certain feelings by wanting to be peaceful and with one person. I think Margaret wants to stop running around and wants her marriage to work."

Although shortly after M*A*S*H ended, Swit was less inclined to discuss what went on in her home life, her interviews in the Seventies provide a brief window into her personal world, where she was apparently surrounded by pewter rabbits and, like many of us, could frequently be found posted up on her couch late into the night.

"I'm a real horror movie buff," Swit said in 1975. "I like the old horror movies, Bela Lugosi and Lon Chaney. If there’s something on TV at 3:30 in the morning that I like, I'll stay up for that."

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Chris 32 months ago
My dad's life was saved in first the medics, then the Aid Station, and followed by a copter ride to the 8063rd M*A*S*H, 3 Miles behind enemy lines---ABOVE THE 38TH PARALLEL!! I'd like to point out that that that ALL places named but the 4077th M*A*S*H, were real places. My father, Walt then went to the 121st Evac (Evacuation Hospital) in Seoul for several Days. After that, He was sent to Tokyo General, where I believe he was given further surgery, and a pastor/reverend wrote letters home for him (his arm was not working at the time). The battalion he was with had finally gotten hot chow for the first time in months. They were allowed to go up and fill their trays as many times as they wished and their tummies could hold. Dad ate his first tray slowly, since months of K-rations had done a number on them. Some of the guys were getting seconds and thirds, but he had his tray laden down with seconds. He was walking back to their bunker when the mortar barrage began. He thought he got hit with a pebble or a stone somewhere in the middle but his friends and pals saw the blood. They called for a medic and helped him get inside.

When he was younger, he had hernia surgery, and some of the mortar had hit on the scars, but he was also hit in the chest. It was bad. He was fixed up well and completely in Tokyo and he was promoted to full sergeant, where he was driving generals. His deportment was always top notch, and he found himself in Officer's Candidate School (OCS). He never scored less than a 90% but often scored a 100%. He had to be recommended for this OCS, just like going to a military Academy.

He was due to rotate out and he was asked to re-enlist to continue his training. I have NO DOUBT that my dad could have been a great 5 star general one day, but he politely declined, truthfully giving his reason that he had plans to go home, meet a nice lady, get married and have a family. He was almost on the money. He served from very early January 1951- Middle January 1954 and within two weeks of arriving home, he met my mother and I guess you could say it was Kismet. They married in September 1956. My brother was born in October 1957 and I in December 1961.

As for the shrapnel that got my dad, it was 3-4 inches long and it was the angriest piece of steel or mixed metals I have ever seen!! It had sharp and jagged pieces and edges to it and we are damn lucky it did not kill him. I wear his original dogtags. They are the notched type and oddly enough, were all made on Addressograph Multigraph Machines. Contrary to popular belief, the notch is not to put into the teeth of a dead soldier. It was a simple mistake made on two styles of the company's machines. Oddly, the company was based in Cleveland, Ohio and my dad, his father and older brother worked for the company. Most soldiers, beginning with THE KOREAN WAR had the rounded version of the tags. Also odd is that very few had the notched sets. Also, it only had the soldier's name on the tag, his US number, blood type and religion. The 2 tags were worn equally, not like in M*A*S*H. An 'X' meant no belief or doubt the existence of God. A 'Y' meant you believed in God but had not decided on a formal religion or faith.

I got a replacement set of my dad's tags in case something happened to the original set with the notch. I got the rounded set for my mom. I got a replacement set of my Uncle's WW2 tags, but had to get the ones in the shape like my dad's. When he served in WW2, they wore square tags on the corner hole chain. These are completely unavailable. For the original set of dad's I got a red tag of my own to wear with it because it has my name, our now chosen faith and allergies and main diseases/disorders. Important stuff. When you watch M*A*S*H, look closely at the tags......they are an Olive drab tint with way too much information on them. You get a small chain when you buy tags, but that is for a P-48 can opener for K-Rations. For participants in later wars or actions, one can get their "round " tags or the longer ones, and also the "silencers." These are rubber bumpers to wrap around the tags so they do not make the clanking noise.

The Korean War Vets often spoke about the horns, hooters and firecrackers plus loud noises that the North Koreans and mainly Chinese soldiers set off in early morning raids when it was still dark. The rubber soled almost tennis shoes was the other thing. This was to put the South Koreans and her supporters on edge. It worked, but millions of Chinese were ill equipped and died along with hundreds of thousands of North Koreans. In the end, there was no peace, It was an armistice, a very fragile sort of peace, with the North agitating little skirmishes over the next 50 years. There were many times a hot war during these so-called Cold War era was almost tripped a few hundred times because the North constantly were agitating the Demilitarized Zone. The other side was enough NOT to take the bait. They were the UN, USA and of course the South Koreans.
Chris 32 months ago
I believe in showing a little gratitude; especially to the show that MADE her career. Let's face it, 'Hot Lips' wasn't always with a moral compass pointing in the due north direction......she got into flings with generals (all married) and Major Frank Burns (ole Ferret Face) and married a man she hardly knew....anyone who could assist her career and advance it---let's be honest by sleeping her way to the top.

However, she did become a true redeemer as the latter years went by---when she understood her nurses better, came to know Klinger on a personal basis, truly got to know the doctors, stopped being so "GI," and her mixed up feelings about possibly being a mother. The final taped show---after the finale, was about the time capsule, was when she truly felt more open and caring for the things the surgeons' donated, which had 'real' meaning. Did anyone notice the teddy bear was NOT the original in that scene? In the finale, everyone truly displayed their genuine love and affection for each other. Which begs the question, my father was a Purple Heart Korean War Veteran and why would she be so negative about a show that shed light on a "Forgotten War," when her character, regardless of what stage of her life she was in---her triage program, so much more than freedom from her ex-husband and jerk, but displaying her talents and freeing the surgeons, Major Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan was a smart and funny character, played by an even more brilliant actress.

She actually should be more grateful and happy about the work she did, the lady she created and the friends she made.....and of course, the wonderful and enduring memories she helped make----for the Veterans and their families who deserved so much better than they received.

So many of them and us would not get to watch our fathers' see the Korean War Memorial!!!!! I wish she would have more gratitude for a 'dramedy', a new word invented for what they were doing that made her career and her, Loretta Swit, a household name.
Coldnorth 32 months ago
I don’t blame her for not answering questions on her private life. But she should be happy to answer questions about MASH. Fans and viewers made her a favorite and she should keep that in mind
denny 35 months ago
Can't ask her any personal questions and can't ask her about MASH, interview over.

Heard an interview with her a couple of years ago, she's a NUT, and made me like her less than I already did.
BobInBG78 36 months ago
So because of interview guidelines , Baba Wawa started asking celebs questions like "If you were a twee, what kinda would you be?"!?!
CouchPotato19 36 months ago
She sounds like a very cool lady by my estimation. Never cared for MASH, though. Her first hubby's last name is Holahan. That's ironic.
Andybandit 36 months ago
Interesting story. I liked Margret after Frank left. She was nicer on the show.
LaDolceVita 36 months ago
It must be very hard to be an actor who is good at her craft. You become famous then people want to know everything about you. You can have no privacy. I don't blame her for not wanting to talk to people she does not want to be abused by them and there nosy questons.
texasluva LaDolceVita 36 months ago
!!Wanted!! but preferred Alive
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LaDolceVita 36 months ago
That is a vary vulgar comment. You should be ashamed for posting this. Please delete this it has no place here. Thank you.
JKMallaber 36 months ago
I don't believe actors, artists, and other such public figures owe us anything but the best job they can offer, something we all should strive for, if I may say so. Anything extra they give us is a gift indeed, and we do wrong to exploit it.

Also, on more than one occasion, I've been turned sour upon learning of some public figures' private leanings. Short of anything criminal, I don't need to know.
Greg 36 months ago
Can't blame her some of the stupid questions they ask.
The person that's the worst off is Bill Shatner. Having guest stared in countless shows and staring in 3 programs he is only recognized for Star Trek. How many times can you hear "beam me up Scotty" before you start flipping people off?
Adanor Greg 36 months ago
Do you ask your plumber about his personal life? So why do you need to find out about the personal life of actors and actresses?
Coldnorth Greg 32 months ago
My favorite role Shatner played was the twilight episode where he saw the hairy monster on the plane wing.that’s what I would ask him about
Chris Greg 32 months ago
Shat is a hammy actor and he'll forever be known as Kirk, like Adam West/Burt Ward for campy "Batman; but that said, they have done more. West has been a terrific cowboy in earlier stuff and Ward did some other stuff. Yet, they were willing to talk about it and play around with the roles. "Beam me up Scottie" was actually never said; just like "Failure is not an option" and "Houston, we have a problem" were NEVER actually said. Let them right the wrongs and since they played the characters, let them comment on them. Asking her if she has affairs with married men, like Hot Lips is just rude and mean. It's also hurtful. However, as a former journalist, the ground rules are: you are in the public eye. Like it or not, anything is fair game. It's up to the reporter to be tactful. Unfortunately; they are not always caring of the performer's feelings.....but like it or not---she knew what she was getting into when taking on the role.
Chris Coldnorth 32 months ago
I'd like to ask him about his other know, the one where he and his newly wedded bride are in a small Ohio diner and the napkin dispenser with the ugly devil's head that can "tell your future" has them, or more to the point, HIM, stuck there, obsessed with finding answers. As the time goes on, his promotion looms and he keeps getting wierd-ed out and the new wife gets more frightened, and they return, only to keep getting more confounding seems he is glued to this stupid machine. Finally she convinces him to leave and begin their honeymoon, they do leave, feeling good about themselves. What's interesting is after they leave, unbeknownst to them and quite uncaring, another couple comes in, parks it AT THEIR TABLE, and cannot seem to escape the hold of a simple napkin holder with a devil head with perplexing responses, each more cryptic than the one before. As you watch, you wonder, what made one couple able to break from its grip and the other not able at al!!
Chris Adanor 32 months ago
The plumber is not a public domain persona and therefore not subject to thoughtful insights about the characters they have played. Or the jobs they have done---except when you are looking into their ratings or how well they have performed on the job. That is still not a public persona.

Unfortunately, this does come with the territory of being known for this role or that.
Brian 36 months ago
She's a great lady in the eyes of many here in the Buffalo NY area because she's visited Western NY multiple times, such as to walk in parades, especially to represent her Polish-American heritage. Kudos to Ms. Swit for that!

Brian 36 months ago
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harlow1313 Wilbur88 36 months ago
'Cause down the shore everything's all right
You and your baby on a Saturday night
Nothing matters in this whole wide world
When you're in love with a Jersey girl

-Tom Wauts
AngeliaKim 36 months ago
Without her Role on "M*A*S*H", she would be a nobody. A few appearances on "Gunsmoke" are the only other things I know her from.
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AngeliaKim 36 months ago
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Wiseguy EllisClevenger 36 months ago
Of course, that should be 1981, not 1972.
Olivia_Reed EllisClevenger 34 months ago
That's what finally ticked her off. The Cagney part was a plum, and she wanted it, but M*A*S*H wouldn't let her out of her contract. I can't blame her for not wanting to talk about M*A*S*H, or anything else about her life, for that matter.
Lily Corey 32 months ago
Loretta wanted out in season 5. That was only halfway through MASH. It ran for 11 years.
glennh3365 36 months ago
No fan of the Media here, so I can understand.
musicman37 36 months ago
I know these are "public figures", and as such, they are subject to a certain amount of scrutiny. But think about it: what if all of a sudden your life were subjected to as much perusal and (in the extreme) had people following you 24/7, jumping out of bushes for photo ops, and digging through your garbage? I think you'd clam up in a hurry as well, and I don't blame anyone for that. Although certain actors and singers get very hot, very quickly, they are just people in the long run, and if they are not so forthcoming with information/interviews, it's understandable, they have lives to lead too. A certain amount of "the public wanting to know" is OK, but it reaches insane levels at times.
Pacificsun 36 months ago
With so many eccentricities, it's no wonder she decided to clam up. Somebody with more experience must've given her some wise advice.
lynngdance Pacificsun 36 months ago
You are invited to my Connecting The Dots Quiz! Saturday 05/29/2021 at The Giant Gomer Pyle quiz! (Since it’s been like a century since I did a quiz, there will be two questions this time so it’ll be extra fun 😁 (hopefully 😜)
lynngdance lynngdance 36 months ago
Whoopsy, forgot to mention, the quiz will be (starting at) 8:00 PM 😆😝
Pacificsun lynngdance 36 months ago
Got the Quiz, got the time.

But where is it going to be?

I'll be there!
lynngdance Pacificsun 36 months ago
(Saw some of the other comments, just wanted to clarify) it’s at 8:00 PM Central Time, and it’s AT the Gomer Pyle Quiz, it’s not going to be Gomer Pyle Themed, although I am going to have one question about Gomer Pyle. 😄
lynngdance lynngdance 36 months ago

It will be in the comment section of this 🙂
MrsPhilHarris 36 months ago
I have never understood why some no longer want to discuss the role that made them famous. Yes I realize they may have a larger body of work, but don’t spit on the role that gave you fame.
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madvincent Pacificsun 36 months ago
And don’t forget that they make more money for one episode than most people make all year.....
Guess it just gets boring.
MrsPhilHarris Greg 36 months ago
I suppose so, however, to be honest besides the Cagney & Lacey made for TV movie and an episode or two of Love Boat, I have no idea what she did after MASH ended.
harlow1313 36 months ago
Well, we share an appreciation for Chinese cuisine, Edward Hopper paintings, and old horror movies (I am currently fixated on "The Bride of Frankenstein.")

I, being a private person, think I can imagine what a pain in the buttocks it is to be a celebrity.

How dreary – to be – Somebody!
How public – like a Frog –
To tell one's name – the livelong June –
To an admiring Bog!
- Emily Dickenson
Pacificsun harlow1313 36 months ago
You're an interesting contributor!
And I appreciate that!!
CouchPotato19 Pacificsun 36 months ago
I second that observation!
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