Kellye Nakahara credited Alan Alda with helping her expand the character of Nurse Kellye on M*A*S*H
"And on top of all that, I happen to be cute as hell!"
As an ensemble cast, there are several characters on M*A*S*H whose roles started fairly small, but as the series progressed, gradually grew to be more of an integral part of the series. Whether it's because audience interest in the character was surprisingly strong, or because the writers found themselves brainstorming potential plotlines involving them more frequently, it's always a nice change to see someone with a small role make a big impact.
With a character like Nurse Kellye, she was always an important addition to the 4077th, but she was welcomed into a much more expansive role as the series went on. Certainly helping in her promotion is the genuine appeal of the character, all thanks to actor, Kellye Nakahara. During an interview, Nakahara modestly told the Hickory Daily Record that she was cast in M*A*S*H because she was simply "lucky as a lark," but viewers and fans alike understand that it was her passion and portrayal of the character that truly made her a favorite in the series.
Nakahara also explained that Alan Alda assisted her in growing her character. In addition to portraying Hawkeye, Alda also assisted in directing the series. Nakahara commended Alda on his perseverance as a director, and said, "Alan was a director that just helped and guided you [and] waited for you — let you get into the right frame, and then he would break you down...Then what came was from deep within."
Specifically, Nakahara remembered the well-loved M*A*S*H episode "Hey, Look Me Over," an episode that showcased Nurse Nakahara's fire with the endlessly quotable line, "And on top of all that, I happen to be cute as hell!" Of Alda, Nakahara said, "He kept at me and kept at me."
While Alda was certainly important in Nurse Kellye's growth, it's important to give credit where credit is due and acknowledge that Nakahara herself was the guiding force in the character. She said, "I identify a lot with Nurse Kellye. She's very optimistic and very willing and able to do anything and enjoys life. And I'm a lot like that."