Together Again: Nurse Kellye and Private Igor in Conversation

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Kellye Nakahara Wallett and Jeff Maxwell

Kellye Nakahara Wallett and Jeff Maxwell

PASADENA — Actors Kellye Nakahara Wallett and Jeff Maxwell will share stories of their time on the TV series “M*A*S*H” at a luncheon meeting of the Rotary Club of Pasadena on Wednesday, July 13, at 12 p.m. at the University Club of Pasadena, 175 N. Oakland Ave. in Pasadena.

The public is welcome to attend. RSVP to Wendy Anderson, who will host the event, at [email protected] and check in at registration. Luncheon tickets are $31.

Set during the Korean War, the CBS comedy about the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital, ran from 1972 to 1983.

Born on Oahu, Wallett moved to San Francisco to establish herself as a professional artist, selling her watercolors of the San Francisco waterfront through the Polk Gallery. She married David Wallett and moved to Los Angeles, where she began her career as an actress.

Halfway through the first season of “M*A*S*H,” she got the part of Nurse Kellye, appearing in every episode thereafter, with her role getting bigger every season. Production came to an end in January 1983 with a final episode that was viewed by over 25 million people.

Wallett spent the next several years after “M*A*S*H” traveling the country, appearing in TV commercials as a spokesperson for IBM.

Kellye Nakahara Wallett as Nurse Kellye and Alan Alda as Hawkeye Pierce in a scene from "M*A*S*H."

Kellye Nakahara Wallett as Nurse Kellye and Alan Alda as Hawkeye Pierce in a scene from “M*A*S*H.”

Kellye Wallett Studio was launched on June 19, 1998 with business partner Anderson at the Pacific Asia Museum, which included a solo art show with over 800 people in attendance, including many of her “M*A*S*H” family.

Her collection “The Gardens of Pasadena” features historical landmarks, gardens and neighborhoods in the city. Her master paintings are on indefinite loan to the City of Pasadena and currently exhibited at the Pasadena City Hall.

Her painting “Koi” was selected by Sen. Jack Scott in 2001 to represent his district and was placed on exhibit at the State Capitol. She was commissioned to paint the Maguire Gardens at the Central Library, and the painting was made into invitations and lithographs for the New Jersey reception during the Democratic National Convention.

In 2008, Wallett was invited by Rep. Adam Schiff to paint a Christmas ornament for the official White House Christmas tree in the Blue Room and attended a dinner reception at the White House hosted by Laura Bush with a special recognition at Schiff’s holiday gathering. Wallett was honored as the “Exceptional Woman” of California’s 28th District by Schiff on March 10, 2015.

In addition to performing in various productions, Wallett served on East West Players’ Acquisition Committee for its transition from a 99-seat theater to a 240-seat Equity theater. She served eight years as the mayor’s appointee on the Pasadena Arts and Culture Commission and was inducted by Alice Frost Kennedy into Pasadena Beautiful, which often uses Wallet’s “Pasadena Gardens” notecards in its correspondence.

Kellye Nakahara Wallett as Nurse Kellye in the OR with Col. Potter (Harry Morgan).

Kellye Nakahara Wallett as Nurse Kellye in the OR with Col. Potter (Harry Morgan).

Currently, she serves as the artistic director of the Towne Singers, a 100-member choral group. They performed “Broadway Bash” in the spring of 2015 at the Santa Anita Performing Arts Center to a sell-out crowd at the 1,700-seat venue. In the spring of 2014, she directed the concert “Celestial Songbook” to rave reviews. She will be singing with the Towne Singers at the Rose Parade Queen Coronation in October.

Wallett is artist-in-residence for the Towne Singers, creating and painting their poster and program artwork for the concerts. She also sings with the California Philharmonic at Disney Hall in Los Angeles and The Cal Phil Summer Series at Santa Anita Racetrack. Over 5,000 people attended the concert last summer.

She had the thrill to sing in concert with her 14-year-old grandson David, who sang solo for the Cal Phil at Disney Hall and Santa Anita when they performed “Les Miserables.” Wallett is preparing now to sing at Disney Hall on July 20 and Aug. 7.

Recently, Wallett was the subject of a Fat Heffalump blog entitled “Tribute to Nurse Kellye,” which went viral and caught the attention of Rachel Martin, host of NPR’s “Weekend Edition,” who had Wallett as a guest on the show last April.

Wallett will be one of the artist’s participating in the Pasadena Rotary fundraiser in August.

Kellye Nakahara Wallett and Jeff Maxwell as the Southern California Cherry Blossom Festival.

Kellye Nakahara Wallett and Jeff Maxwell as the Southern California Cherry Blossom Festival.

Maxwell’s show business career began in high school when he and a pal formed a comedy team, Garrett & Maxwell. Their comedic skills developed rapidly, and the boys went on to perform with such classic entertainers as The Smothers Brothers, Redd Foxx, Flip Wilson, Kenny Loggins and Robin Williams. After a very successful seven years of performing around the world, the two went their separate ways and Maxwell became a studio executive in the casting department of 20th Century Fox.

Missing an audience, however, he traded his executive suits for a green uniform in what was destined to become the most watched show in television history. For nine years, Maxwell played the role of Private Igor, the beleaguered mess tent cook on “M*A*S*H.”

Acting in many other TV shows and films, including a comedy classic, “The Kentucky Fried Movie,” Maxwell also wrote, produced and directed numerous corporate videos, including two award-winning drug-awareness programs for the Keebler Corporation: “I Believe in Me” and “Sisters.” He created and produced two pilots for CBS and is the recipient of a TV Land Award for his work on “M*A*S*H.”

Some years after the series ended production, Maxwell returned to his “M*A*S*H” roots and wrote a best-selling cookbook, “Secrets of the M*A*S*H Mess: The Lost Recipes of Private Igor.” Filled with delicious recipes, letters to Igor’s mom, and never-before-seen photos, the book was written to tell the actor and his character’s side of their “M*A*S*H” experience — and to make the case that Igor was secretly a good cook.

Jeff Maxwell as Pvt. Igor in a scene from "M*A*S*H."

Jeff Maxwell as Pvt. Igor in a scene from “M*A*S*H.”

Forever the entrepreneur, Maxwell’s appreciation of good food and drink led him to a partnership in 2 J’s Gourmet, a company designed to produce and distribute the world’s best Bloody Mary mix, Chico Rico. He is also the president of The American Iron Bed Company, which produces and distributes antique bed replications. The company also creates custom pieces for film and television shows, and just recently provided over 100 beds to the Ronald McDonald House in Palo Alto.

He is also a principal in Smash Cut Entertainment LLC, a new company designed to produce motion picture and television products.

An avid skier, his goal is to eventually move to Jackson Hole, Wyo., and just ski until he drops over in the snow.

The Pasadena Rotary Club, which meets weekly at the University Club Pasadena, has over 200 members who are dedicated to contributing to the well-being and growth of the community, region, and world.

Pasadena Rotary will host a fundraiser on Aug. 18 at Bob and Arlene Oltman’s residence above the Pasadena Museum of California Art. This event is open to the public to help raise funds to support such programs as Happy Feet (providing shoes at the start of a school year for PUSD elementary school students); Adopt-A-School; Dan Stove Music Contest; 4-Way Speech Contest; Done in a Day; Toy Drive; RYLA -Teen Leadership; Project Corazon Super Build; and Teachers of Excellence. For more information, visit www.pasadenarotary.com or call (626) 440-0908.

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