Loretta Swit gave us an example of a strong woman in M*A*S*H. She portrayed Margaret Houlihan, an Army nurse caring for wounded soldiers in the Korean War.
M*A*S*H dominated the airwaves until it went off the air in 1983. Swit was in the main cast for every episode. And in our fantasy TV world, Houlihan did her duty with the 4077th and left Korea as an appreciated veteran.
Swit now is 84. And she still believes strongly in veteran causes.
The M*A*S*H star told Closer Weekly this month: “What is the veteran? A veteran is a person who, whether in active duty, retired or discharged, had in some moment in his or her life written a blank check payable to the United States of America for the sum of up to and including his or her life. They’re heroes. They’re extraordinary people.”
M*A*S*H Star Still Reps the Military Long After Show Ended
Swit even was the Grand Marshal of the Phoenix Veteran’s Day Parade this past November. She also narrated a documentary called Never the Same: The Prisoner of War Experience.
And she told Closer Weekly about a recent project that helped two of her favorite causes.
“I just connected with a group of veterans who are looking to adopt military dogs,” Swit said. “I can show you pictures that would break your heart. But I also have one of a soldier coming home [on a plane] with his dog on his lap. I’m talking about a big German shepherd! It’s very rewarding and wonderful when you can make that happen.”
Swit is a life-long animal lover. And the M*A*S*H icon spent her years after the series advocating on behalf of animals. She runs the SwitHeart Animal Alliance. On her site, she wrote: “I set up SwitHeart Animal Alliance to prevent cruelty and end animal suffering.” She said she wanted “to promote and cooperate with numerous non-profit organizations and programs that protect, rescue, train and care for animals.” And Swit also is concerned with the habitat of animals “while raising public awareness about issues that concern domestic, farm, exotic, wild and native animals and their well being.”
The M*A*S*H star celebrated a big career achievement in December 2016, but it only had modest roots in acting. Rather, it was more about her love for animals. She earned the Betty White Inspirational Award, which is the highest annual honor presented by the group Actors and Others for Animals. The group believed Swit earned the lifetime achievement because Swit was “making a better world for both people and animals.” Jamie Farr and Mike Farrell, two of Swit’s M*A*S*H co-stars, presented Swit with the award. White, who died Dec. 31, won the first award.