When the classic TV series MAS*H premiered in 1972, fans were anxious to learn more about its leading lady, Loretta Swit, who played Major Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan. And it wasn’t long before reporters were clamoring for an interview with the up-and-coming television star.
At the beginning of her MAS*H career, Loretta Swit was more than willing to share the intimate details of her life with fans and reporters. In addition to behind-the-scenes details about the show, Swit was open about her personal life and interests.
As time went on, however, reporters began to cross the line. As article after article hit newsstands, Loretta Swit grew tired of the constant questions regarding her personal life. And by 1995, she refused to answer any personal questions whatsoever. Swit felt disrespected by the press and demanded that publications sign a written agreement before interviewing her.
When a reporter for The Los Angeles Times was presented with this agreement, he felt particularly slighted. So much so that he went on to pen an article entitled, “Major Houlihan to Major Bummer”. In the article, the reporter outlined the demands placed upon him when he requested the interview with Loretta Swit.
“Ms. Swit’s personal life and privacy are not the topics of this interview,” the agreement read. “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.”
‘M*A*S*H’ Star Loretta Swit Refused Interviews About the Classic TV Series
In addition to a ban on personal questions, the interview agreement also gave strict orders not to ask any questions about MASH or Loretta Swit’s character. And if the interviewer managed to bring up MASH without any direct questions about the show, they could not mention the monicker “Hot Lips.”
“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. “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.’”
As questions about her personal life and questions about M*A*S*H were off the table, Loretta Swit’s interviews dwindled significantly. To this day, Loretta Swit’s personal life remains carefully guarded, giving her a greater mystique than the rest of the M*A*S*H cast.
The M*A*S*H actress has opened up a little more in recent years, however, and freely discusses her time on as Major Margaret Houlihan.