loretta swit

Loretta Swit Still Brings the Fight

Actress to visit Palm Springs to promote her book of watercolor paintings to benefit animal rights, while continuing her portrayal of strong women characters with Coyote StageWorks production at Annenberg Theater.

Julie Pendray Arts & Entertainment

loretta swit
Former “M*A*S*H” star Loretta Swit has won awards for advocacy on behalf of animals.

Loretta Swit fought to be respected on-camera by male characters during 11-seasons of “M*A*S*H”, while off camera she has been a fervent advocate for animal rights. Both parts of her will be on display when the 79-year-old actress comes to Palm Springs starting Jan. 18.

Swit, who played Maj. Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan on the popular TV series during its entire run of 1972-83, will speak about her latest book, SwitHeart: The Watercolour Artistry & Animal Activism of Loretta Swit, Jan. 18 at a noon luncheon hosted by the Coachella Valley Repertory at the Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa in Rancho Mirage. She plans to sign copies of the book featuring 65 watercolor paintings of the animal kingdom edited by Mies Hora.

Swit is slated to conduct a second book signing at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 12 at Just Fabulous in Palm Springs.

“You have to have a strong spirit to work in the humane field because you see so much abuse,” said Swit, who has advocated on behalf of many organizations such as the Humane Society, Actors and Others for Animals, and the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation. Her efforts have been honored with many awards.

On stage, Swit will play “a formidable retired woman,” according to the theater website, who hires a young man to instruct her in the Coyote StageWorks production of Six Dance Lessons In Six Weeks, Feb. 3-12 in the Annenberg Theater at the Palm Springs Art Museum. According to the theater website, what begins as an antagonistic situation turns into close friendship between the woman and her teacher. “I love doing plays where people go home talking about it,” Swit said.

Swit would love to see the play tour nationally and internationally because of its themes on ageism and intolerance. “When I hear someone talking to me about ‘age appropriate,’ I halt and roar,” she said, “I say, ‘You cannot judge me based on a number. As a dancer, I’ve kept my body toned.’”

Fellow M*A*S*H star Mike Farrell is one of Loretta Swit’s book fans.

She added women need to continue to speak out against anything they feel is wrong. “Women need to hold our ground. Men too. It will take strong men and women bonding together and marching alongside each other,” she said.

Even before “M*A*S*H”, Swit was building an audience following appearances in Gunsmoke, Hawaii Five-O, and Mission Impossible, plus the pilot for Cagney and Lacey. Now a new generation is taking notice of Swit in roles such as Eleanor Roosevelt (Eleanor: Her Secret Journey). “I was in Laguna and the audience was made up of a lot of young people wanting to learn more about this woman,” Swit said.”I’m thrilled about that because these are people who are benefiting from Eleanor. She was around when women had just gotten the vote.”

Swit still stays in touch with “M*A*S*H” cast members like Mike Farrell. She lost a dear one recently with the passing of William Christopher, who played Father Mulcahey. Swit says that, off-screen, “You could go to him with anything, sort of like confessing, and he would listen without judgement. He brought so much humanity. He really found his calling.”


Proceeds from Swit’s book will be donated to animal charities. Visit www.switheart.com to read more about Swit’s work.

CV Rep Luncheon, Jan. 18 at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Dr., Rancho Mirage. Doors open at 11:30 a.m. Luncheon starts at noon. Tickets, visit www.cvrep.org or call 760-296-2966.

Book signing, 5:30 p.m. Feb. 12, Just Fabulous, 515 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, 760-864-1300.

“Six Dance Lessons In Six Weeks,” Feb. 3-12, Coyote StageWorks production at Annenberg Theater, 101 N Museum Drive, 760-325-4490; www.psmuseum.org/annenberg-theater.