M*A*S*H Actress Born In Japan Dies At 79

Actress Eileen Saki was born in Japan but later moved to the United States with her family. According to IMDB, her dad, who worked in the theater in Japan, set money aside so that she could take singing lessons and dancing lessons. She knew she wanted to perform since the time she was 4 years old.

Saki is best known for her role on the sitcom MASH. She was the final actress to play the role of Rosie, the owner of Rosie’s Bar. On Facebook, the MASH Matters Podcast, announced the sad news that Saki has died on May 1, 2023. She was 79 years old.

On the MASH Matters Podcast, Saki’s former costar, Jeff Maxwell, who played Pvt. Igor Straminsky on the long-running series, posted a tribute to her. He wrote, “On behalf of her husband Bob, we extend sincere appreciation for the hundreds of M*A*S*H fans who filled Eileen’s final days with peace, encouragement, and love. She read every email and responded to as many as she could.” Maxwell added, “Our sweet, sweet Eileen. How we love you. How we will miss you.”

While the announcement on Facebook does not include a cause of death, PEOPLE reports that her cause of death was pancreatic cancer. Saki’s manager, Camilla Fluxman Pines, said in a statement, “She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in January.”

This was not the first time Saki had battled cancer. According to Pines, she previously fought and beat lung cancer. Pines explained, “She was a lung cancer survivor in 2004.”

Saki’s first acting credit was in 1974 in the movie “Policewoman.” She acted on MASH from 1976 – 1981. Her first role on the show was during the first episode of season 5. She played the head Madam of a group of prostitutes. Later, she returned to the show as Rosie, the last actress to portray the character.

According to the book “The Last Days of M*A*S*H” by Alan and Arlene Alda, changing the actress who played Rosie was actually similar to what happened in real life. One day, Alan Alda received a letter in the mail from the real life Rosie Jr. who explained that during the Korean War, Rosie’s Bar was handed down from mother to daughter. 

While Saki is best known for MASH, she also worked on a variety of other movies and TV shows as well as multiple commercials. Pines explained, “She got a second chance at auditioning and working in the industry that she loved so much — she shot a couple big commercials shortly before her diagnosis.” Watch the video below to see some of her most memorable roles.

Saki is survived by her husband, Bob Borgen.

Rest in peace.