M*A*S*H star Loretta Swit is passionate about animal rights. She speaks out about her activism in interviews. She started her own nonprofit, the Stony Point, New York-based SwitHeart Animal Alliance. She’s even created her own perfume to encourage donations to her nonprofit.
In fact, in a 2010 interview with the Toronto Star, Swit quoted Gandhi and said a society’s true character is revealed in how it treats its animals.
“I try to live by his pacifist philosophy,” Swit said. “I am so committed to animal rights activism and I always think of his quote, ‘The true test of a nation’s greatness lies in the way they treat their animals.’”
Swit Donated Proceeds from Her Book to Her Favorite Causes
Swit has put out a book, “Switheart: The Watercolor Artistry & Animal Activism of Loretta Swit,” that’s full of her watercolor paintings, and the proceeds go to benefit Swit’s favorite causes.
Among those favorite causes is animal rights. Swit gets especially indignant about the use of fur in fashion.
“A fur coat represents the death of 80 animals,” she told The Spectrum, horrified, in 2017. “Fake fur has come a long way. It’s twice as warm and just as beautiful – if not more so – than real fur. I have two of them and they’re so realistic I wear a button to say it’s fake!”
Swit has always loved animals, according to her. She says her parents told her she used to be fascinated by dogs as a kid, and that blossomed into a love of all animals in adulthood.
“My parents said even when I was just a tot in a carriage and I’d see a dog, I would get all red in the face, giggly, and yell out ‘doggie, doggie, doggie!’ and wouldn’t stop,” she recounted.
M*A*S*H writers even wrote an episode for Swit in which her character, Maj. Margaret Houlihan, strikes up a friendship with a stray dog that frequents their camp, only to see it killed by a car later.
“The writers knew about my animal activism and brilliantly used it to develop Margaret’s character,” Swit said.
Swit Realized M*A*S*H Was Special Gradually
Swit uses her fame to further her animal rights agenda, but what made her famous was M*A*S*H. The lifelong actress said it took her a little while to understand what a pop culture phenomenon the show was becoming, but it sunk in gradually.
“The realization was really from the outside-in at first,” Swit explained. “I would go out to do interviews and from people’s response learned how important the show was becoming. The genius of M*A*S*H was the brilliant writing that was always different, fresh, and unexpected. Our tight-knit ensemble could transform the scripts into stories that were funny and entertaining and yet touching and profound. The show hasn’t been off the air since it went into syndication after the third season.”
Of course, Swit bonded with her castmates from the get-go, and she always knew the writing was great. Still, it was only after the show started to air that she came to see its potential staying power. Indeed, M*A*S*H remains one of the most-watched TV shows of all time, and through reruns, generations of people have grown to admire its characters. And if all that makes people more willing to listen to Swit’s stance on animal rights, so much the better.