Eileen Saki, who played Rosie, the sassy boss of the popular watering hole that hosted Hawkeye Pierce, Hot Lips Houlihan, and others of the 4077th in the legendary series M*A*S*H, has passed away. She turned 79.
Saki died Monday in Los Angeles after a short illness, her rep, Camilla Fluxman Pines, said The Hollywood Reporter.
The delightful Saki appeared as the owner of Rose’s Bar – which actually existed in Seoul during the Korean War – in eight episodes of the CBS series from 1976 to its end in 1981. (Frances Fong had played Rosie a few times in 1976-77 .)
Earlier, Saki had portrayed the head madam of a brothel who was impressed by Cpl. Klinger’s (Jamie Farr) wardrobe in the fifth season premiere episode, “Bug Out”, which aired in September 1976.
She also appeared in other TV series including Good times, Potato chips, The greatest American hero, Give me a break! And Without a trace and in movies like Meteor (1979), Mel Brooks’ History of the World: Part I (1981) and that of Ron Howard Splash (1984).
Born and raised in Japan, Saki said she knew she would be an artist by the time she was 4. she said on a February 2022 episode of the M*A*S*H matters podcast co-hosted by Jeff Maxwell, who owns Pvt. Igor Straminsky about the series.
Her father, who had worked in theater in Japan and was a gardener in the US, had set aside money to take singing and dancing lessons, she noted.
Later, Saki read the Hollywood trade to learn the names of casting directors in town and snuck out to the Fox lot, where she met M*A*S*H writer, producer and director Burt Metcalfe, who hired her to play the Korean madam. A year later, she was cast as Rosie.
The part “was written so well that I didn’t really have to work on it,” she said on the podcast. “I just remember going to a Korean laundromat where the main lady was so (businesslike), and I based my character (on her).”
After finishing an episode of M*A*S*H, she walked past Brooks’s office on the property, she recalled. “I thought, ‘Okay, take a deep breath, knock on the door and see if he’s in.’ … He was so sweet. I asked him: ‘Do you have something for me?’ He said, “Well, it’s a small portion.” It was the role of the slave girl in (History of the world“).
Survivors include her husband, Bob.
Saki was recently featured in an Uber Eats commercial mentored across the street by Aaron Donald of the Los Angeles Rams. Click here to see her in it, op M*A*S*H and in other projects.