Jan. 28th, 1936
New York City, New York, USA
Alan Alda's Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles
Guest TV Roles[none found]
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.
- Studied at the Sorbonne during his junior year of college.
- (October 19, 2003) - Underwent emergency surgery in La Serena, Chile to clear an intestinal obstruction.
- Once did a cartwheel down the aisle while on his way to accept an award that he had just won.
- "If you work very, very hard, this is the kind of actor, writer, and director you may turn out to be. And if you work extra hard, this is the kind of person you may turn out to be." - 'James Lipton' (qv), to students at New School University, where Alda gave an interview.
- Was the first person to receive Emmy awards for acting, directing, and writing for the same television series.
- Earned a reported $200,000 a week for _"M*A*S*H" (1972)_ (qv) in 1980.
- Has three daughters: Eve, 'Elizabeth Alda' (qv) and 'Beatrice Alda (I)' (qv).
- To show the horrors of war in a television sit-com, Alda had it written into his contract that one scene of every episode must take place in the operating room while surgery occured.