Loretta Swit: Hot or Not?

I’d always taken it as a given that most people always thought Loretta Swit was at least moderately attractive while MAS*H was on the air. Several episodes make her comeliness something of a plot point, and as a prepubescent kid I always thought she was pretty good looking. Recently, though, I saw an episode of Mission: Impossible where her character’s ugliness was emphasized - to the point that she was killing “pretty” women who were sleeping with a man Swit’s character was madly in love with. Also, there’s this thread, which sees a number of dopers express an opinion that Swit was no prize. What do you all think: hot or not?

Moderately attractive but I always thought the character’s sex appeal was overrated.

I’d take Loretta Swit’s Hot Lips over Sally Kellerman’s, though.

I voted “not hot”

Although to say she was completely unattractive is unfair, I never saw Swit as the bombshell they tried to paint her as. Certainly not to the level of the movie’s Kellerman.

Swit really got worn out during the show, also. Not really fair, since it lasted for well over a decade, but the first couple of seasons were her best from the looks department. She started wearing so much makeup, and her platinum blonde dye job really made her look like what she was… An older woman trying (and failing) to look younger.

I do think Swit was a good casting choice, however from this perspective… She was believable in the role. If you put a pinup in the roll, she would have never been taken seriously (IMO, anyway). She had an ok looking, but not a babe… And certainly not “hot lips”.

I always thought the nurse “Ginger”, who was the pretty black nurse that was in most of the episodes (I think, anyway) was the prettiest nurse on MASH. They also had some guest nurses on MASH that were flat-out knockouts, like nurse Murphy.

The other thing that people may forget is how her character started out. She was basically advertised as a whore, where every General who came to camp seemed to know her and have an intimate relationship with her. She called just about every general by his first name. Whether or not she slept with all of them was never flushed out, but it sure seemed like Margaret was using her sex appeal to either help her career (it never worked… She stayed a major for 12 years! HA!), or at least she used it to be well known in the senior officers minds.

Finally, this was a war… Korea, where there weren’t many attractive things painted green. Margaret did stand out from that respect… At least for the Henry Blake years. Slowly, though, Swit (like Burgoff’s Radar) started changing her character’s image as the show stayed on the air. She was no longer the camp tramp, but she was briefly married, and tried to focus on her job as head nurse and what that responsibility entailed…

Sorry Margaret… This viewer says Frank Burns was the best you ever should have had.

I always thought Miss Piggy’s temperament was based on Swit’s “Hot Lips”.

I didn’t vote because I didn’t see a response that matched my opinion.

If Houlihan was supposed to be an outright across the boards ‘bombshell’ then the casting failed. I would say Swit was more ‘real world’ attractive. Personally, she wasn’t my type, but I can see she is not unattractive in the show.

But a lot of the character is ‘informed attractiveness’. The others seem to react as if Houlihan is more attractive than Swit actually is. And don’t forget, her lips weren’t ‘hot’ because they just looked good, ifyouknowwhatImean.

Funny that Mission: Impossible was mentioned. In the years with Linda Day George, it seemed every plot involved the villain becoming hopelessly infatuated with her, which then brought ruin to their plans. I see that a lot like the MASH question - as I never found Ms George attractive, that bugged me. Barbara Bain may not have been the world-class beauty Cinnamon Carter was portrayed as, but it didn’t seem every episode’s plan revolved around the bad guy falling in love with her, either.

Well, of course not; Rollin Hand would have killed them if they tried anything.

Stink Fish Pot summed up my opinion for the most part (based on MASH). I never found her very attractive in an objective sense but subjectively I could see people in a military camp feeling otherwise. She wasn’t ugly, it just felt like everyone on the show implied she was much more attractive than I could see.

I would call her “she’s here and the wife is there” beautiful, were it not for the fact that there were much better looking nurses in camp on a regular basis. Compared to the rest of the Nursing staff Hot-Lips was very ordinary.

I think she was a very attractive woman who played (very well) an unappealing character.

I haven’t seen any M.A.S.H. episodes in a long time, so perhaps my memory is skewed, but it always seemed to me that Houlihan wasn’t lusted after so much because she was a knockout beauty, but more so because she was a hot-blooded, aggressive and even borderline abusive lover. Frank Burns was definitely more interested in her because she was a domineering “mother” figure for him, someone who indulged in his just-ever-so-slightly hinted at fetish for mommy / bad boy role play.

I think that was the key to her sex appeal, as well as a snide comment on the military brass type of guys who typically fell for her - Burns and her other ‘conquests’ were high level officers who puffed up their chests and preened liked macho men / war heroes, but were really arrested adolescent cowards who hid in offices far away from the front line. Hotlips appealed to them more because she wasn’t afraid to order them around and maybe even give them a few lashes with a whip.

In November I had lunch at the next table to her on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

Caught her eye on purpose as I was shrugging my jacket on. She gave a small smokey smile and bam- my heart was aflutter.

Yeah. She’s still got it. And she surely did in MAS*H.

Re: What JustAskingQuestions said. Seems to me based on Sally Kellerman’s work as well as Loretta Swit’s portrayal that Houlihan wasn’t exactly supposed to be Marilyn Monroe. A more rough and tumble woman, very intelligent and undoubtedly capable at her job,quite in touch with her sexuality and completely capable of expressing it to men- and more importantly, direct enough that even in the t.v. version one got the feeling that HER lovers didn’t need to be told twice where the clitoris was.


Haven’t watched the show since I was a little girl, but I thought she was a pretty lady. Can’t attest to her “hotness”, though. And even as a kid, I remember thinking her hair color was unflattering.

Just google imaged her, and she is a beautiful 76-year-old woman.

Actually, the only reason she was called “Hot Lips” was because Hawkeye and co snuck the microphone for the PA system into the tent where she was making out with Frank. She said/broadcasted “Kiss me, Frank! Kiss my Hot Lips!” and an embarrassing nickname was born. I don’t really remember her being made out to be that much of a bombshell.

I voted not hot, but she is attractive.

Somebody above mentioned Barbara Bain who’s a perfect counterpoint - she’s hot, but unattractive. I’ve only seen her in 2 shows, Mission Impossible and a few episodes of Space 1999. In each case she carries absolutely 0 personality. She’s pretty but she might as well be a mannequin for the amount of personality she showed in her characters.

I’ll take Loretta Swits average looks but above average persona any day over Barbara Bain.

Rodney Dangerfield said it best:

“The last time I saw a mouth like that, it had a hook in it!”

She was 35 when MASH started, and while she wasn’t ugly or anything, she did kinda look her age more then the average TV female lead. Didn’t help that the show ran for more then a decade.

She was far from being the hottest thing on television, but given a dichotomy of “hot” or “not-hot”, she’s closer to the “hot” end. Especially when you’re stuck ten thousand miles from home in a godforsaken war zone.

I would add that her personality was a lot of her appeal. A strong willed woman that doesn’t take shit from anybody can be appealing to many. The fact that she went for Burns was a big huh? for me, but maybe it is because deep down she has insecurities, and she knows he won’t reveal her weaknesses.

But in that episode when Hawkeve and her had sex, instead of humanizing her, it just made her look like one more in a long line of women who MUST fall to the charms of god’s gift to women. No matter how personally repulsive she may find him, she still can’t resist.

Hawkeye probably thinks he actually likes the women he sleeps with*, but Margaret should have known better.

Funny thing about the other nurses-they were so interchangeable that not only did the same actress play different nurses, they all had names like Able and Baker. Seriously-that’s the level of imagination the writers had? The phonetic alphabet? Good thing we never got Nurse Dog, or god forbid Nurse Easy!

*unless she’s racist

When you phrase it as an “attractive woman,” she gets my vote. If you’d call her a “gorgeous goddess,” then nope.

I voted yes, she was attractive. Do I think think she was HOT? Not in the later years. Go back and look at some of the photos of her when Mash first started. She was very pretty.