Few actresses can capture the imagination of generations of television viewers with the certainty and charm of Loretta Swit. As quick-witted, impassioned Major Margaret Houlihan of television’s most honored series, M*A*S*H, Ms. Swit became an American icon. And with its popularity now in worldwide syndication, new fans continue to enjoy her lavish portrayal of the sensuous, sensitive, comedic Major Houlihan.
Ms. Swit has been honored with such recognition as the People’s Choice Award, The Genie Award, The Silver Satellite Award, The Jean Golden Halo Award, the Pacific Broadcasters Award, and two Emmy Awards. With 10 Emmy nominations and four nominations for the Golden Globe, she most recently has received her third Career Achievement Award.
She has been teamed with some of the most memorable names in the world of entertainment. She made her Broadway debut in Same Time, Next Year opposite Ted Bessell and toured with two illustrious “Mames,” Susan Hayward and Celeste Holm, playing the title role of Mame herself years later in New York and Pennsylvania. She has appeared in over 1,200 performances of Shirley Valentine – a role for which she won Chicago’s most prestigious theatrical honor, the Sarah Siddons Award.
In 2010 she revisited Shirley Valentine in Canada for a highly successful 3-month engagement. Ms. Swit toured in the musical spoof, Song of Singapore, while continuing to perform select dates of Love Letters with Anthony Franciosa. She appeared in The Vagina Monologues in New York, Chicago, and the West End in London. Her television career boasts over 25 movies, including the original Cagney and Lacey, in which she created the role of Chris Cagney (obligations to M*A *S*H prevented her from shooting the series).
A few other films include Games Mother Never Taught You with Sam Waterston, Hell Hath No Fury with Barbara Eden, The Execution with Rip Torn, Dreams of Gold with Cliff Robertson, and A Killer Among Friends with Patty Duke. Ms. Swit has sung and danced her way through most of television’s musical specials, most notably The Muppet Show with Kermit and Miss Piggy, and the Broadway musical It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s Superman.
Every year she can be seen in the annual specials, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, Miracle at Moreaux, and A Christmas Calendar, aired worldwide during the holidays. Her dynamic acting range has placed her in some heady company on the big screen as well. Ms. Swit has starred in such films as Stand Up and Be Counted with Jacqueline Bisset, Freebie and the Bean with James Caan and Alan Arkin, Race With the Devil with Peter Fonda, Beer opposite Rip Torn, S.O.B. with Julie Andrews and William Holden, Whoops Apocalypse with Peter Cook and Herbert Lom, Forrest Warrior with Chuck Norris, and BoardHeads with Bronson Pinchot.
Regionally she has appeared in The Apple Tree, Doubt, Equus, Murder Among Friends, Barefoot in the Park, Driving Miss Daisy, Mame, and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. Ms. Swit’s wildlife series, Those Incredible Animals, was shown twice weekly on the Discovery Channel for an amazing 5-year run, as well as being aired in over 30 countries.
She is as impassioned about animals as she is about the Arts. For her ceaseless humanitarian efforts, Ms. Swit has earned the respect of both the general public and the philanthropic world including such awards as: Woman of the Year by both the Animal Protection Institute and the International Fund For Animal Welfare (IFAW); The Advocate for Farm Animals Award, 2007 (The Farm Sanctuary); Compassion in Action Award (Ayla’s Acres); Westminster Animal Welfare & Leadership Award; International Red Cross Humanitarian Award, 2016; Global Wildlife Conservation Champion Award, 2016 (GES Africa Conservation Fund); and The Betty White Award, 2016 (Actors and Others for Animals). Here is a full list of Loretta’s awards.
Her book, SwitHeart: The Watercolour Artistry & Animal Activism of Loretta Swit, a chronicle of her work as an artist and activist, is not currently available via Amazon, but copies are available to those who donate $50 or more to her 501(c)(3) nonprofit, Loretta Swit’s Amimal Alliance.