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'MAS*H' Star Kellye 'Lt. Nurse Kellye' Nakahara Dies At Age 72

Gettyimages | Archive Photos
By Mike Walters

Kellye Nakahara, who played Lt. Nurse Kellye on the iconic television show, 'MASH', has died after a battle with cancer. She was 72.

The actress died at home Sunday, he family announced today, after a short battle with cancer.

Incredibly, Kellye started out as a non-speaking extra on the show, where she played Nurse #1. But, she told The Hollywood Reporter before her death she was able to convince the show's creators, Gene Reynolds and Alan Alda, to give her a bigger role.

Star Of TV Show 'MASH' Dies After Battling Cancer

Gettyimages | Christopher Polk

"Gene and Alan liked me,” she told THR, and “All of a sudden, I was being written in as Nurse 123 and then Nurse Able, Baker and Charlie. At some point, Alan said he couldn’t keep calling me ‘Nurse 1.’

Then he said, “You’re Kellye. Nurse Kellye."

By the end of her legendary run, Nurse Kellye appeared in 10 seasons of the show and 167 episodes spanning from 1972-1983.

The famous actress also broke down barriers in Hollywood during her run on the show, telling THR, “I was the first Asian who didn’t play one. I was just an American soldier, a nurse on the same level as everyone else. My true ethnicity never even came up.”

Read About Her Rise To Hollywood Fame...

Gettyimages | Jeff Kravitz

The Hawaiian born Nakahara moved to San Francisco as a young woman, and according to reports, she met her husband David Wallet and the couple moved to Los Angeles where he encouraged her to take up acting.

In a 2016 interview with NPR, Nakahara reminisced about her time on set of MASH, "I just was so thrilled to be on that set," she said.

She continued, "I loved the smell of the tents. I loved the people. So I would have a great time with the writers and talk to them and the crew, who I loved. And really, we became such great friends that I think I was in every scene because I put myself in every scene...and nobody told me to get out."

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