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.
- He was once selected as the most believable actor in the U. S.
- 'Richard Hooker (I)' (qv), who wrote the novel on which the film (M*A*S*H (1970)) and TV show (_"M*A*S*H" (1972)_ (qv)) were based, did not like the TV series and in particular did not like Alda's portrayal of Hawkeye Pierce.
- Was one of the actors considered to play President Bartlett on _"The West Wing" (1999)_ (qv). Alda later landed the role of Sen. Arnold Vinick in 2004 on that series.
- Suffered from a severe case of polio as a young child. At its worst point he was only able to move his left arm. He was treated by Australian polio expert, nurse 'Elizabeth Kenny (I)' (qv), subject of the movie _Sister Kenny (1946)_ (qv).
- Once played the role of Sky Masterson in 'Guys 'n' Dolls', the same role his father, 'Robert Alda' was known for.
- "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.
- 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.
- Despite being an active Democrat, he has recently played two Republican senators in TV and film--the fictitious Arnold Vinick in _"The West Wing" (1999)_ (qv) (which garnered him an Emmy win) and the real-life 'Owen Brewster' (qv) in _The Aviator (2004)_ (qv) (for which he received an Academy Award nomination).