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Alan Alda

television and movie actor best known for playing "Hawkeye" in M*A*S*H

Alan Alda

Alphonso Joseph D'Abruzzo was born in New York City on January 28, 1936, the son of actor Robert Alda and Joan Brown, a former Miss New York. (The family name "Alda" is a combination of ALphonso and D'Abruzzo.) As a young child he suffered from a bad case of polio that at one point left him unable to move anything but his left arm.

Alda graduated from Fordham University with a Bachelor of Science in English degree in 1956. During his junior year he studied at the Sorbonne, during which time he acted in a play in Rome and performed with his father on television in Amsterdam. After graduation, he joined the U.S. Army Reserve, but went AWOL every weekend to see the girl he would eventually marry.


Alda began his acting career in the 1950's as a member of the Compass Players comedy revue.


Originally reluctant to take on the role, Alda did not sign on to play Hawkeye Pierce until six hours before filming began on the pilot episode, but he went on to star in the show throughout its eleven-year run (1972-1983).

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 occurred.

Rather than uproot his family from New Jersey, Alda commuted from Los Angeles to his home every weekend during the show's run.

Alan, his father, and his half-brother Anthony appeared together in the episode "Lend a Hand" during season eight. Alan and his father had previously appeared in "The Consultant" in season three.

He was the only actor to appear in every episode. He and Loretta Swit were the only cast members to appear in both the pilot and final episodes.

He wrote (or co-wrote) 20 episodes, and directed 30 episodes.

The West Wing

Alda was one of the actors considered to play President Bartlett, but the role ultimately went to Martin Sheen. In 2004 he was cast for the role of Senator Arnold Vinick. He made his premiere in the role in the sixth season's eighth episode "In the Room," and was added to the opening credits with the thirteenth episode, "King Corn;" he continued in the role until the show's conclusion in 2006.

Other Television Appearances

Made frequent appearances on the 1968 revival of What's My Line?, as well as on the 1972 revival of I've Got a Secret.

Guest starred five times on ER, playing Dr. Gabriel Lawrence.

Played Dr. Robert Gallo in the controversial 1993 AIDS TV movie And the Band Played On.

Other TV roles include:
Story Theatre (1971) (series)
The Glass House (1972)
Playmates (1972)
Isn't It Shocking? (1973)
Free to Be... You & Me (1974) (voice of various characters)
6 Rms Riv Vu
Annie and the Hoods
Kill Me If You Can
White Mile
Jake's Women
The Killing Yard

Movie Roles

Gone Are the Days (1963)
Paper Lion (1968)
The Extraordinary Seaman (1969)
Jenny (1970)
The Moonshine War (1970)
The Mephisto Waltz (1971)
To Kill a Clown (1972)
The Glass House (1972)
Same Time, Next Year (1978)
California Suite (1978)
The Seduction of Joe Tynan (1979) (also writer)
The Four Seasons (1981) (also director and writer)
Sweet Liberty (1986) (also director and writer)
A New Life (1988) (also director and writer)
Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989)
Betsy's Wedding (1990) (also director and writer)
Whispers in the Dark (1992)
Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993)
Canadian Bacon (1995)
Flirting with Disaster (1996)
Everyone Says I Love You (1996)
Murder at 1600 (1997)
Mad City (1997)
The Object of My Affection (1998)
Keepers of the Frame (documentary) (1999)
What Women Want (2000)
The Aviator (2004)
Resurrecting the Champ (2007)

Honors and Awards

Academy Awards (Oscars)
nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role -- for The Aviator -- 2005

American Movie (Marquee) Awards
Best Actor -- for The Seduction of Joe Tynan -- 1980
Favorite Male Star -- 1982

Bodil Awards
Best Non-European Film -- for The Four Seasons -- 1982

Directors Guild of America, USA
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in a Comedy Series -- for M*A*S*H -- 1977, 1982, 1983

Emmy Awards
Actor of the Year, Series -- for M*A*S*H -- 1974
Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series -- for M*A*S*H -- 1977
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series -- for M*A*S*H -- 1972, 1982
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series -- for The West Wing -- 2006
Outstanding Writing in a Comedy or Comedy-Variety or Music Series -- for M*A*S*H -- 1979

Alda was the first person to win Emmy Awards for acting, writing, and directing for the same series (M*A*S*H).

Golden Apple Awards
Male Star of the Year -- 1974, 1979

Golden Globes, USA
Best Performance by an Actor in a TV Series, Comedy/Musical -- for M*A*S*H -- 1981, 1982, 1983
Best TV Actor, Musical/Comedy -- for M*A*S*H -- 1975, 1976, 1980

Hasty Pudding Theatricals, USA
Man of the Year -- 1980

Humanitas Prize
30 Minute Category -- for M*A*S*H -- 1980

National Board of Review, USA
Best Supporting Actor -- for Crimes and Misdemeanors -- 1989

New York Film Critics Circle Awards
Best Supporting Actor -- for Crimes and Misdemeanors -- 1989

People's Choice Awards
Favorite All-Around Male Entertainer -- 1980, 1981
Favorite Male TV Performer -- 1975 (tied with Telly Savalas), 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982

TV Land Awards
Classic TV Doctor of the Year -- for M*A*S*H -- 2003
Impact Award -- for M*A*S*H -- 2009

Writers Guild of America, USA
Best Comedy Written Directly for the Screen -- for The Four Seasons -- 1982

Family Life

Alan and Arlene Alda have been married since March 15, 1957. They have three children -- Eve, Elizabeth and Beatrice.

Other Information

Despite the overwhelming popularity of M*A*S*H, Richard Hooker, the author of the novel on which the movie and series were based, did not care for the series. He was particularly unhappy with Alda's portrayal of Hawkeye Pierce. Hooker, a Republican, had based Hawkeye on himself, whereas Alda made Hawkeye a liberal.

Alda is a strong and vocal supporter of women's rights. In 1976, the Boston Globe dubbed him "the quintessential Honorary Woman: a feminist icon" for his activism on behalf of the Equal Rights Amendment.

His autobiography, Never Have Your Dog Stuffed--and Other Things Learned, was published in 2005.


Internet Movie Database

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This page was last updated on 02/10/2019.