[on coming to the role of Major Margaret "Hot Lips" O'Houlihan] Soon after The April Fools (1969) my agent called me about an audition. I didn't know anything about the director or who, if anyone, had already been cast. The only thing my agent said was that I was reading for the part of Lt. Dish (later played by Jo Ann Pflug), so I thought that I had better put on some red lipstick to look more "dish-y". The audition room was full of men, scattered about, none of whom I recognized. I didn't even know which one was the director. I guess I did well because, all of a sudden, one of the men--he had the longest fingers I've ever seen, like birds about to take flight--said, "I'll give you the best role in the picture: Hot Lips." "Really?" I said. I was so excited. Finally! The best role in something. I thanked the long-fingered man, took the script, and rushed outside. I didn't even want to get home before I cracked open the script to get a better look at this "best" role in the picture. Leaning against the building, I began thumbing through the pages looking for my part. And looking. And still looking. Nothing. On page forty, maybe I found a single line. Later I found a few more. Fourteen years in Hollywood and my "best role" is the nine-line part of a solider named Hot Lips? I staggered home, angry and bitter, and I called my agent, indignant. "There's nothing to this part!" I told him. "This guy is supposed to be really talented," he said, trying to calm me down. "I really think you should do it." I later learned that fifteen directors had said no to this film before Robert Altman had said yes. So I read the script again and then agreed to take another meeting with Altman, it was just the two of us this time, and I arrived in a huff. I didn't know him from Adam, but I hated him for thinking he could fool me. Hot Lips was a memory before the script was even halfway over. But as long I had come this far, I was going to tell him what I thought. "Why does she have to leave in the middle of the film?" I began. I had spent years playing roles on TV. I was already thirty-one years old. I didn't want a career playing hard-bitten drunks in Chanel suits who get slapped by their husbands. This movie was supposed to be a comedy. Hell. I'd done two episodes of Bonanza (1959) just to prove I could be funny. I was capable of so much more than a few lines. I was capable of a "best" role--and so was my character. "I'm not just some WAC--I'm a woman!" "So why can't she do this? And why can't she do that?" I shouted at Altman. I was ranting. When I finally came up for air, Bob just casually leaned back in his chair. He said, simply, "Why couldn't she? You could end up with something or nothing. Why not take a chance?". The minute he said that, something in my shifted. Here I was having a tantrum in his office, and there he was leaning back in his chair, smiling. Everything about him was comfortable and relaxed. So sure. So it was settled. The role of Hot Lips O'Houlihan was mine. The movie was MASH (1970).