Most of the stills of Kellerman in Altman’s movie version of MASH (the asterisks are in the TV show name, not the movie name) available online are of the shower scene or its aftermath. Especially the colour ones. You do a Google Image Search, and that’s what comes back. Or pictures that are of the men of the movie—or are of Loretta Swit, of course.
I haven’t seen much else that Sally Kellerman has done, I have to be honest. Follow That Bird, where she’s the voice of Miss Finch, the bird from The Feathered Friends who decides that Big Bird will be happier among his own kind. Frankly, of what I’ve seen of hers, it’s the thing I’m most likely to rewatch. Her Faerie Tale Theatre episode, I suppose. Or Tall Tales and Legends. She did a Columbo, but I don’t think I’ve seen it. But her movies? Don’t really seem to be the sort of thing that works for me.
Apparently, she auditioned for the role of Lieutenant Dish, not Houlihan. But she was told that she was being considered for the best role in the movie. She read over the script and wasn’t sure she agreed with that; she apparently demanded of Altman why Houlihan couldn’t do more and be more interesting. Her relationship with Altman is not quite I thought it was—I had actually speculated, for reasons we’re about to get to, that she’d dumped him in high school—but she did stand up for herself a bit with him.
He doesn’t seem to have liked it, though. She didn’t want to do the shower scene. She wasn’t comfortable with it. And Altman, along with Gary Burghoff, fooled around and dropped their own pants and so forth until they surprised her by dropping the sides of the shower tent without warning. So that’s a thing that happened. And then when he later called her to ask if she wanted to do another of his movies, she said, “If it’s a good part,” and he hung up on her. Which kept her out of Nashville. Because apparently people were supposed to be grateful for even bad parts, if they were in Altman movies.
She said it was a part where she’d sing, too, which makes me wonder which role she was up for. But it tells you something about the state of movies that it’s possible that there could have been three Robert Altman films where Sally Kellerman was sexually humiliated, and it’s only that she was willing to stand up for herself in real life that meant she wasn’t. She was humiliated by Donald Sutherland and Elliott Gould in MASH, and she was humiliated by Stephen Rea in Prêt-à-Porter, and it’s theoretically possible she could’ve been humiliated by a roomful of men in Nashville. So, you know, there it is.
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