R.I.P. Brandis Kemp, Fridays cast member and onetime Klinger nemesis
She worked alongside Larry David and Michael Richards in late-night comedy.
Image: The Everett Collection
It's often overlooked that AfterMASH was a hit. The now nearly forgotten spin-off was certainly riding the wave after "Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen," the M*A*S*H finale that pulled in a still-unprecedented 125 million viewers. AfterMASH premiered seven months later — and went on to become the No. 10 television show of the 1983–84 season.
This followup series centered around Potter (Harry Morgan), Klinger (Jamie Farr) and Father Mulcahy (William Christopher), who found themselves back in America after the war and working in at a military hospital in Potter's home state, Missouri. Other familiar M*A*S*H actors, Rosalind Chao (Soon-Lee) and Kellye Nakahara, who voiced the PA announcer, joined the cast. Gary Burghoff popped in, too.
But much of the comedy fell to a newcomer, Brandis Kemp, Alma Cox, the hospital's executive secretary who constantly butted heads with Klinger, who was now working as an administrative assistant. Alma went so far as trying to fire Klinger on Christmas Eve.
Kemp was no stranger to television comedy fans. After honing her skills in the theater — as well as a stint teaching speech to policemen and firemen in New York City — Kemp moved to L.A. and joined the cast of Fridays, the West Coast competitor to Saturday Night Live. Broadcast a day earlier, obviously.
Kicking off in 1980, Fridays put together an impressive sketch ensemble. Redheaded Kemp, who quickly became the go-to female cast member, crafted sketches with her costars Larry David and Michael Richards, who would of course go on to fame a decade later through Seinfeld. Her then-husband, Mark Blankfield, was also a part of the cast.
On July 4, Kemp died at her home in Los Angeles, according to The Hollywood Reporter. She was 76.