The six-time Emmy and Golden Globe winner appears on TV screens almost daily. The M*A*S*H series, in which the star played the main role, is still being broadcast almost 50 years after the premiere. Why don't you join us at LP-Life.com and reminiscence about Alan Alda's beginnings or take a look at how he is doing today!
The actor's father and the history of their famous last name
You may not be aware of the fact that the famous actor's birth name was Alphonso Joseph D'Abruzzo. Alphonso got his more famous name from his father's side. He was born to Joan Browne and Alfonso Giuseppe Giovanni Roberto D'Abruzzo, his parents were of Italian-Irish background. Giuseppe appeared on Broadway already before World War II, but with many actors joining the army, Hollywood was looking for fresh rising stars, and Giuseppe ended up making films. In his first film, Rhapsody in Blue, he starred under his already more famous surname, which he composed from the first two letters of his last names. That's how Alfonso D'Abruzzo became Alda.
An exemplary and well-traveled student
But we're still talking about Roberto Alda, while the person celebrating his birthday is his first son born in 1936. Alphonso Joseph, better known as Alan, has always been in the artistic environment alongside his father. Despite his background he decided to pursue an academic career at first. After high school in New York, he went to Fordham University, where he studied English. During his studies he also visited Sorbonne in Paris within a student exchange program. His father accompanied him on his travels around Europe, and they played together in a spy series shot in Amsterdam. Then he played various theater roles in Rome.
His childhood and experimental treatment
Alan Alda's childhood wasn't exactly a happy one. He struggled with polio at the age of 7, from which he recovered through experimental treatment that strengthened his joints and muscles. Alda also stated that he always felt more comfortable surrounded by his father's older colleagues than his peers, especially during puberty. The biggest turning point in his childhood happened after his mother developed mental health issues triggered by alcohol consumption. His father, a well known actor at that time, couldn't stand his wife's issues anymore, filed for divorce and stayed in Europe, where he and his second wife raised their son Antony.
From military service to the most famous role
Alan and his mother returned to the States, where he served in the army, first at Fort Benning then 6 months in the reserves army in the Korean war. Maybe that was what helped Alan to his most famous role of Hawkeye Pierce, but he still had a long way to go. The first acting jobs started coming in the 50s, but those didn't bring him any fame.
He began to build his fame on Broadway, just like his father. Gradually, he started to build a reputation, and his efforts resulted in a Tony Award for the Best Musical Actor in The Apple Tree in 1966. That was at the time Alan when was already pursuing a few television roles. But he wasn't successful in any. Then, the groundbreaking role as Hawkeye in M*A*S*H came.
256 episodes of M*A*S*H
The role was groundbreaking in many ways. Today, basically no one remembers Alan in a different role than the one in which he starred in all 256 episodes about the doctors at the M*A*S*H 4077 medical camp on the battlefield in the Korean war. He was nominated for 21 Emmy awards (and turned 5 of those nominations). At the same time, he wrote screenplays for several episodes and even directed a few of them himself.
M*A*S*H is still a cult series that remains on the TV screens. The last episode, a 2,5-hour-long finale, Goodbye, Farewell and Amen is the most watched episode ever broadcast on American TV. It's also the only project in which Alan appeared together with his father Robert and brother Antony, more specifically in the 20th episode of season 8, Lend a Hand.
Exchanging acting for podcasting
Currently, he doesn't make any films or shows, but he records podcasts and stays active on his social media. He's been happily married to his wife Arlene Weiss sine 1957. Sadly, he announced that he was suffering from Parkinson disease a few years back. He had broken the news about his disease already in 2018, and was heard a year later that he wasn't experiencing any limits to his health so far. During this illness, the cells in motor centers die and the affected person gradually loses control of their body, which suffers from cramps and tremors at various stages.