'M*A*S*H' actress Kellye Nakahara dead at 72

Actress Kellye Nakahara is pictured onstage at the 7th Annual TV Land Awards held at Gibson Amphitheatre on April 19, 2009 in Unversal City, Calif. (Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

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M*A*S*H actress Kellye Nakahara has died after losing her battle with cancer.

The 72-year-old played Lieutenant Nurse Kellye on the hit TV show.

Born in Hawaii, she moved to San Francisco, Calif. She passed away in Pasadena on Sunday.

Alan Alda has paid tribute to his M*A*S*H co-star after her death, calling her a “treasure” and a “beautiful person” in a heartfelt statement.

Following news of her passing, Alda, who starred as ‘Hawkeye’ Pierce in the show, told Fox News in a statement: “Kellye Nakahara was a beautiful person and a natural as an actor. She began as a background performer and worked her way up to playing the lead in an episode I wrote for her. She was adorable and brilliant in the part.

“But, you couldn’t beat what she was as a person, funnier and warmer and kinder than most people I’ve known. We all loved her on ‘M*A*S*H,’ and we’re all heartbroken to know she’s gone. Kelley was a treasure.”

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Fellow M*A*S*H star Loretta Swit, who played Margaret ‘Hot Lips’ Houlihan in the series, also offered her condolences, calling her a “jewel” as she added: “She radiated sparkle and goodness and joy. The light that her presence brought will be deeply and forever missed.”

As well as her role in M*A*S*H, Kellye also appeared in the films Clue and Black Day Blue Night, and was an accomplished watercolour artist.

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