Jan. 28th, 1936
New York City, New York, USA
Alan Alda's Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles2008 - Diminished Capacity
2008 - Nothing But the Truth
2008 - Flash of Genius
2007 - Resurrecting the Champ
2004 - The Aviator
2000 - What Women Want
1998 - The Object of My Affection
1997 - Murder at 1600
1997 - Mad City
1996 - Flirting with Disaster
1996 - Everyone Says I Love You
1995 - Canadian Bacon
1993 - Manhattan Murder Mystery
1990 - Betsy's Wedding
1989 - Crimes and Misdemeanors
1981 - The Four Seasons
1979 - The Seduction of Joe Tynan
1978 - Same Time, Next Year
1978 - California Suite
1971 - The Mephisto Waltz
Guest TV Roles
Senator Arnold Vinick
Dr. Atticus Sherman
Dr. Gabriel Lawrence
Himself - Friend
Dr. John Griffin
As a boy, Alan Alda suffered through polio, developing his sense of humor while bedridden, watching his eccentric family's antics. As a young man he started in comedy with Chicago's Second City troupe, and his first big break came with the Americanized version of the British skit show That Was the Week That Was, in 1964, with David Frost and Buck Henry.
During his stint in the Army, shortly after the Korean war, Alda served as a gunnery officer in Korea. M*A*S*H, of course, was set during the Korean war. As Dr Hawkeye Pierce on M*A*S*H, Alda brought the series a perfect balance of wiseass and gravitas. As the series continued its long run, Alda gained more power behind the scenes, and some critics complained that the series delivered more political statements than laughs in its latter seasons. Over its eleven seasons, M*A*S*H earned numerous Emmy awards, and Alda earned five -- three for acting, one for writing, and one for directing. He is the only artist to win Emmys in all three of these categories. He wrote 20 and directed 32 episodes of M*A*S*H.
Alda has written or directed five feature films, of which the best reviewed was The Seduction of Joe Tynan with Meryl Streep. Playing perfectly off his M*A*S*H role, Alda played a self-obsessed and none-too-funny TV sitcom star in Woody Allen's Crimes and Misdemeanors. He was the longtime host of Scientific American Frontiers on PBS, and in the last season of TV's The West Wing, Alda played a moderate Republican running for President.
- With the exception of taking a course in Theater Games, he's never studied acting. His degree from Fordham University is in Science. He felt that he was a natural performer and that studying would ruin his gift for being natural.
- Studied at the Sorbonne during his junior year of college.
- Has succeeded 'Donald Sutherland (I)' (qv) in two roles: Hawkeye Pierce in _"M*A*S*H" (1972)_ (qv), and Flan in _Six Degrees of Separation (1993)_ (qv). He played the latter part in an Audio Books recording. During an appearance both made at a ceremony/dinner for 'Queen Elizabeth II' (qv), the two happened to be standing in the reception line next to each other. As they waited for the Queen to make her way down the line, Alda whispered to Sutherland, "Thank you for my life.".
- Alda almost turned down the role of Hawkeye Pierce on _"M*A*S*H" (1972)_ (qv) because he did not want war to be a "backdrop for lighthearted high jinks... I wanted to show that the war was a bad place to be."
- He is an Italian-American.
- He has twice played characters from Maine, from opposite ends of the ethical spectrum. In _"M*A*S*H" (1972)_ (qv) he was noble surgeon Hawkeye Pierce, whose hometown was Crabapple Cove. In _The Aviator (2004)_ (qv) he played corrupt U.S. Sen. 'Owen Brewster' (qv), nemesis of 'Howard Hughes (I)' (qv). The author of the original "M*A*S*H" books, Maine doctor Richard Hornberger (writing as 'Richard Hooker (I)' (qv)), based the Pierce character on himself but was said to dislike the TV version of his story as overly moralistic. As for Sen. Brewster, whose smarmy hypocrisy was well-depicted by Alda, he was booted out of the Senate by Maine voters in the next Republican primary.
- Was the commencement speaker at the Dwight-Englewood High School Commencement in June 1978 in Englewood, NJ, when his daughter 'Elizabeth Alda' (qv) graduated.
- He did not sign on to play Hawkeye Pierce on _"M*A*S*H" (1972)_ (qv) until 6 hours before filming began on the pilot episode.