It’s not every day that “Hot Lips” Houlihan, also known as Loretta Swit, makes an appearance in Missoula.

If that name doesn’t ring a bell, you’re apparently not of the multiple generations who watched “M*A*S*H*” reruns religiously, as it was one of the most popular TV series in history.

Although Swit’s role in M*A*S*H* was a humorous one, her reason for being in town is a serious matter.

The award-winning actress recently narrated a film, “Never the Same,” a documentary that chronicles the experiences of American prisoners of war held by the Japanese during World War II.

The Montana Museum of Art and Culture will present the film on Sept. 10, and Swit and director Jan Thompson will be in town for the event.

The film is presented in conjunction with the exhibition “Human Condition: The Art of Ben Steele,” which features the artwork of WWII prisoner of war and Montana artist Ben Steele. His work records the degradation and cruelty to which prisoners were subjected at the time of the Bataan Death March, and, according to the artist “provides a record of war, survival, forgiveness and reconciliation.”

Steele attributes his survival to a love for Montana and early experiences on the family ranch near Roundup.

After the film, Thompson and Swit will be available for questions.

For those who want to get up-close and personal, a meet-and-greet party with them will take place before the screening.

“I hope the audience will more fully understand what Ben experienced while he was a POW after seeing my film in which he plays a significant role,” Thompson said. Although the film is free, all proceeds from the meet-and-greet will benefit the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Memorial Society and MMAC.

MMAC Director Barbara Koostra is thrilled to have the actress and director come to town and support the event.

“Loretta Swit is an icon among TV stars,” she said. “We’re delighted she’s coming to Missoula to share her love and respect for veterans, especially Ben Steele, whose POW collection is among the remarkable works in the MMAC Permanent Collection.”

“Never the Same” will show at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 10, in the Masquer Theatre of the Performing Arts and Radio/Television Center at the University of Montana. The meet-and-greet party takes place in the lobby of the Missoula Children’s Theatre from 5:30-6:30 p.m. prior to the film.

The Paxson and Meloy galleries will also be open 30 minutes before and after the film screening for film-goers to view Steele’s exhibition. For tickets and more information contact the MMAC at 406-243-2019.

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