Kellye Nakahara, who was best known for playing Lieutenant Nurse Kellye on the iconic television show M*AS*H, has passed away at the age of 72. She died at her home in Pasadena, California after a short fight with cancer. Her family says that she died “peacefully” and was surrounded by her family and loved ones.
Nakahara played the role of Lieutenant Nurse Kellye on the hit CBS show M*A*S*H, starring in a total of 165 episodes. Surprisingly, this was her first acting job and it was supposed to be a temporary one, but her beaming personality and skills had the producers of the show looking to expand her role.
The original character Nakahara was supposed to play was just called “Nurse 1” in the first script, but Alan Alda recognized her talent and pushed Gene Reynolds, the producer, to give Kellye a bigger role.
She talked to the press after the show was finished airing about her expanded role: “Gene and Alan liked me. 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. ‘You’re Kellye. Nurse Kellye.'”
Nakahara was born in Hawaii and was proud that her character broke down racial barriers. “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.”
Kellye is survived by her husband, David Wallett, two children, and two grandchildren. She will be missed!
Every time you share an AWM story, you help build a home for a disabled veteran.