Born January 28, 1936 in New York, NY
(birth name: Alphonso D'Abruzzo)
Born January 28, 1936 in New York, NY
Alan Alda gained international acclaim for his leading role as Hawkeye Pierce on Twentieth Television's hit series M*A*S*H. He garnered an unprecedented number of awards for his portrayal of a surgeon "temporarily misassigned" to the Korean War.
During the course of the series' eleven year run on CBS, Alda was nominated for 21 Emmys. He won five of the golden statuettes, and became the first person to win the award as an actor, writer and director. In addition to his Emmys, Alda has won the Writer's Guild Award twice, the Director's Guild Award three times, six Golden Globes from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association as Best Comedy Actor, and seven People's Choice Awards. He also nabbed the coveted Humanitas Award for writing the poignant episode "Dreams" (from a story be Alda and James Jay Rubinfier), which aired during the eighth season of M*A*S*H.
Alan Alda was born in New York City, the son of another distinguished actor, the late Robert Alda. His introduction to the theater came at the age of 16 in summer stock at Barnesville, Pennsylvania. During his junior year at Fordham University, he studied in Europe where he performed on stage in Rome and on television in Amsterdam with his father.
After college, he could be seen on stage and on the small screen. He also acquired improvisational training with "Second City" in New York and "Compass" at Hyannisport. With a background in political and social satire, he became a regular on television's That Was the Week That Was.
Alda received critical acclaim for his performance on Broadway's The Owl and the Pussycat. Other Broadway credits include Purlie Victorious, Fair Game for Lover, for which he received a Theatre World Award, and The Apple Tree, which garnered him a Tony nomination.
Alda's first motion picture part came in Gone Are the Days, in which he recreated his stage role from Purlie Victorious. He also appeared in The Moonshine War, Jenny, 20th Century Fox's The Mephisto Waltz, and Paper Lion. On television, he performed in The Glass House on CBS and the 90-minute television special of the Broadway hit, 6 Rms Riv Vu, co-starring Carol Burnett. He received and Emmy nomination for his portrayal of Caryl Chessman in Kill Me If You Can.
Don Freeman, the distinguished newspaperman and writer, had these remarks about Alda and his involvement with M*A*S*H: "Alda, through some curious and mysterious alchemy, can register emotions that cut through the marrow of human experience. It is his gift, a peculiar genius that goes beyond the demands of craft, to transport an audience as he articulates utter despair and compassion and monstrous fatigue and the wildest, most rarefied kind of humor--all with surpassing honesty, which is also the hallmark of the show itself..."
Alda's talent does not stop with acting; he is also a well-known writer, director and producer. He made his directing debut on M*A*S*H, and then went on to direct 6 Rms Riv Vu on television, and several sequences in the Marlo Thomas television special, Free To Be...You and Me. He also created, wrote and co-produced the television series We'll Get By.
During the hiatus between the sixth and seventh season of M*A*S*H, Alda appeared in three motion pictures: Same Time, Next Year, California Suite and The Seduction of Joe Tynan. For the latter, he also authored the script. In 1980, Alda wrote, starred in and directed Universal's The Four Seasons, a huge critical and commercial success. He then went on to co-produce a television series version of The Four Seasons for CBS. Since M*A*S*H ended its eleven year network run, Alda has written, directed and starred in the several feature films including Sweet Liberty, A New Life, and Betsy's Wedding.
A dedicated feminist, Alda was appointed in 1976 to serve on the National Commission for the Observance of International Women's Year, where he co-chaired the Equal Rights Amendment Committee. In 1982, he was co-chair with Betty Ford of the National ERA Countdown Campaign.
Alda's civic duty does not stop with feminist issues. In 1985, he became a member of the Board of the Museum of Broadcasting. His wife Arlene is an award-winning professional photographer whose work has appeared in a number of magazines including Life, Vogue, People, US, and Ms. She is the author of five books, including one she co-wrote with Alan about the last week of M*A*S*H (The Last Days of M*A*S*H). They have three daughters: Eve, Elizabeth and Beatrice.
Since M*A*S*H, Alan Alda has starred in a number of movies and TV movies (check his filmography for a complete listing). He has guest-starred in several TV shows including ER. In 2000 he hosted the Museum of Television & Radio's Influences on the Bravo cable network. He also continues to do work on stage, including the award-winning Broadway play Art in the late 1990s.
Alda has received many Emmy nominations, most recently for his role as Dr. Gabriel Lawrence in ER (2000) and as Willie Walters in the Showtime TV movie Club Land (2001). He received the WGA's Valentine Davies Award on March 5, 2000. The award is for writers "who have contributed to the entertainment industry as well as the community at large, and who have brought dignity and honor to the profession of writing everywhere." Alda also received the Regal Cinemas' Career Achievement Award at the Sarasota Film Festival on January 13, 2001. He currently hosts Scientific American Frontiers on PBS. In 2005, he received his first Oscar nomination. Alda was nominated for "Best Supporting Actor" for his role in The Aviator but lost to Morgan Freeman.