Loretta Swit was ''very different'' from Margaret Houlihan
The actress wasn't quite Hot Lips.
Let's face the facts: Even with her shortcomings, you either wanted to be Margaret Houlihan, or you wanted to marry Margaret Houlihan. However, by the time M*A*S*H ended after eleven seasons, Loretta Swit found a bit of uneven footing, playing a character that viewers were unfamiliar with. In an interview with The Town Talk, Swit spoke of one of her post-M*A*S*H roles and explained, "It's a very different challenge to play someone the public doesn't know."
By comparison, viewers' familiarity with Margaret was welcome as they saw her episode after episode, but it also meant that Swit was faced with the challenge of keeping the character engaging and interesting. She said, "The challenge was to keep Margaret fresh each week. We always kept her a little unpredictable. Who would have guessed that she and Hawkeye would get together, like they did in one two-hour episode?"
However, Swit also had the benefit of the M*A*S*H writers, who worked hard to keep the show's storylines invigorating. She added, "With Margaret, I had fresh material each week even if it was the same character. So each type of work is a different kind of challenge." Even with each trial, Swit maintained that she wasn't deterred, but rather engaged. She said, "I love the challenges. I'll work in any medium, as long as the material is good."
But with love for Hot Lips and love for Loretta Swit, it's not especially surprising that someone may get their wires crossed and start assuming that the two ladies are one and the same. However, Swit is sure to remind everyone that is simply not the case. She said, "I'm probably very different from Margaret Houlihan. I'm not Irish, I'm not an Army brat, I wasn't raised all over the country. I'm not a major, I'm not a nurse." But despite these surface-level differences, Swit maintained that she and Margaret were similar in one deep way. She said, "We do share a common belief in what we do. She was the best nurse in Korea and held herself up to a standard of excellence." She continued, "I try to live up to standards, too."
Regardless of those differences, like any good actor, Swit was sure to find pieces of Margaret that were evident in herself as well. She said, "Margaret was fun, she was caring and I found those things in myself to give to her. When I did her, we were totally alike."