Name:
Alan Alda
Birth Date:
January 28, 1936
Birth Place:
New York, New York, USA
Height:
6' 2''
Nationality:
American
Famous for:
His role as Hawkeye Pierce in the television series M*A*S*H (1972)
Profession:
Actor, Director, Producer, Screenwriter
Education:
Archbishop Stepinac High School in White Plains, New York (attended 1950-1952)
BIOGRAPHY
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M*A*S*H

Background:

“I hear from people who watch six and seven times a day. It scares me.” Alan Alda on the popularity of “M*A*S*H”

An Academy Award-nominated and Emmy Award-winning American actor/ writer/ director, Alan Alda is best connected with his autograph role of the wisecracking Army surgeon Hawkeye Pierce in the television series “M*A*S*H” (1972-1983), where he nabbed three Emmy Awards and six Golden Globe Awards. Also serving as a writer and director, he picked up such awards as two Emmy and three Directors Guild of America Awards for his outstanding behind-the-scene efforts. Additionally, his spectacular work in M*A*S*H has launched Alda as the only person ever to win an Emmy for acting, writing, and directing. Many years after the massive victory, Alda re-reached his television celebrity by picking up a 2006 Emmy Award for his exceptional supporting portrayal of presidential-hopeful Arnold Vinick in NBC’s political drama “The West Wing” (2004-2006).

As a movie actor, Alda, who frequently cast as ambitious authority figures that are corrupt and unethical, attained the zenith of her eminence in 2004, when Martin Scorcese had him play the corrupt senator in the Martin Scorcese’s critically-acclaimed Howard Hughes biopic The Aviator, in which he received a Best Supporting Oscar nomination. He is also memorable for playing roles in such films as The Seduction of Joe Tynan (1979, netted an American Movie Award), Woody Allen’s Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989, won a New York Film Critics Circle Award and a National Board of Review Award), Flirting With Disaster (1996) and the box office hit What Women Want (2000). He also wrote and directed and starred in a string of moderate comedies of variable quality depicting the foibles of American bourgeois life: The Four Seasons (1981, won a Bodil Award), Sweet Liberty (1986), A New Life (1988) and Betsy’s Wedding (1990).

On stage, Alda has been nominated three times for Broadway’s Tony Awards. He received the Best Actor nod in “The Apple Tree” (1967) and “Jake’s Women” (1992), and in 2005, as Best Performance by a featured actor (Play) for his work in “Glengarry Glen Ross.”

“Republicans are as capable of coming up with great ideas and moving this country along as anyone - they just don’t do it.” Alan Alda

Off screen, Alda is a political activist and long-term advocate for feminist causes. In 2003, he underwent an emergency surgery to clear an intestinal obstruction in La Serena, Chile. On a more personal note, Alda, who received $220,000 for “M*A*S*H” (1972), is the husband of the famous photographer, author, and clarinetist Arlene Alda, whom he married in 1957, and has three daughters with her.


Polio

Childhood and Family:

Alan Alda was born Alphonso Joseph D’Abruzzo on January 28, 1936, in New York, New York. His father, Robert Alda (born Alphonso Giuseppe Giovanni Roberto D’Abruzzo), was a flourishing actor of Italian-American lineage, and his mother, Joan Brown, was a former Miss New York pageant winner. They later got divorced and his father was married to Flora Martino, from whom he has a half-brother named Anthony Alda (actor, born on December 9, 1956). At age 7, Alan dealt with polio that required him to undergo treatments for two years.

Alan grew up around vaudeville and burlesque comedians that cultivated his interest in performing. He attended Fordham University in New York, New York, and went to Europe during his junior year. Upon receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in 1956, Alan joined the U.S. Army Reserve and spent six months in Korea as a gunnery officer during the Korean War.

A year after college graduation, on March 15, 1957, Alan tied the knot with Arlene Weiss. He and his renowned photographer, author, and clarinetist wife share three daughters, Eve, Elizabeth, and Beatrice. He has a grandson named Scott.


The West Wing

Career:

Born to a theatrical family, Alan Alda began acting as a teenager when at age 15 he performed Abbott-and-Costello-style comic sketches with his dad, actor Robert Alda, at the Hollywood Canteen, and made his stage debut two years later with a leading role in “Charley’s Aunt” in summer stock in Barnesville, Pennsylvania. A junior student of Fordham University, Alda traveled to Europe and was later discovered on stage with his father in a play in Rome titled “Room Service.” Still with his father, he also appeared on TV in Amsterdam. Alda debuted on the New York stage as understudy in a production of “The Hot Corner” (1956).

After graduating from college, Alda joined the Cleveland Playhouse and later studied improvisational acting with Paul Sills and continued training at The Compass in Hyannisport, Massachusetts, and Chicago’s Second City. During 1961-1962, Alda came to prominence as Charlie Cotchipee in the Broadway production of “Purlie Victorious,” a role he reprised when he made big screen acting debut in the film adaptation, Gone Are the Days in 1963. After his TV series debut on the ground-breaking political spoof show “That Was the Week That Was” (NBC, 1964), Alda revisited the New York stage in his first starring role in the two-character hit “The Owl and the Pussycat” (1964-65), along side Diana Sands. That was followed by a fine performance opposite Larry Blyden and Barbara Harris in the musical “The Apple Tree” (1966-67), from which he received a Tony nomination.

The acclaimed stage-actor returned to film after five years with the lead of George Plimpton in the biopic Paper Lion (1968). He continued to appear in five other movies, such as The Mephisto Waltz (1971) and To Kill a Clown (1972), and several TV films, most notably the ABC fascinating prison drama Truman Capote’s The Glass House (1972), before landing his signature role of Captain Benjamin Franklin ‘Hawkeye’ Pierce in the long-running CBS comedy-drama “M*A*S*H,” which ran from 1972 to 1983. Glowingly portraying the wisecracking Army surgeon, Alda collected a number of recognitions and awards. He picked up three Emmys for Best Lead Actor, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Serie and Actor of the Year, and six Golden Globes for Best TV Actor and Best Performance by an Actor. Not only acting, Alda also directed and wrote several episodes and served as creative consultant. For his behind-the-scene-efforts, he was handed two Emmys for Outstanding Directing and Writing and three Directors Guild of America for Outstanding Directorial Achievement.

Once he achieved a star status, Alda started appearing more outside the series. He co-starred and co-directed with Carol Burnett in the TV version of the Broadway comedy 6 Rms Riv Vu (1974), where he took home an Emmy nod for his performance, as well as created and penned pilot for the CBS sitcom “We’ll Get By” (1975). He received another Emmy nod in 1977, this time for his fine presentation of condemned murderer Caryl Chessman in the NBC film Kill Me if You Can. On the wide screen, Alan was teamed with Ellen Burstyn as a traitorous couple who shared one weekend a year for 26 years in Robert Mulligan’s adaptation of Same Time, Next Year (1978) and made his debut as a film screenwriter in The Seduction of Joe Tynan (1979), where Alda also starred as the titular politician. For his brilliant acting in the latter, he won a 1980 American Movie for Best Actor. Alda went on to score victory when The Four Seasons (1981), an ensemble comedy-drama which marked his film directorial debut where he also served as a writer and co-starred with Carol Burnett, gained a 1982 Bodil for Best Non-European Film.

Alda continued taking a triple duty for his next projects, Sweet Liberty (1986), A New Life (1988) and Betsy’s Wedding (1990). Meanwhile, his supporting performance as an arrogant TV director named Lester in the Woody Allen film Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989) garnered him a New York Film Critics Circle and a National Board of Review for Best Supporting Actor. In 1993, Alan received even more rave reviews for his portrayal as scientist Robert Gallo in the HBO much-admired television movie And the Band Played On, where he earned an Emmy nod. He reunited with Woody Allen in Manhattan Murder Mystery, that same year, and again in 1996 with the romantic musical comedy Everyone Says I Love You.

Still in 1996, Alan reprised hid Tony-nomination performance for the CBS TV adaptation of Neil Simon’s “Jake’s Women,” a role he originated in a 1992 play of the same name, and earned praise for his work in David O Russell’s comedy Flirting With Disaster, opposite Ben Stiller and Lily Tomlin. Next up, he had roles in films the ill-received political thriller Murder at 1600 (1997), Costa-Gavras’ Mad City (1997, starred Dustin Hoffman and John Travolta) and The Object of My Affection (1998, appeared as the brother-in-law of Jennifer Aniston), and on Broadway play “Art” (1998), costarring Alfred Molina and Victor Garber. Alan rounded out the decade with a memorable recurring role in the NBC hit medical series “ER” (1999), earning an Emmy nomination for playing a famous surgeon in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

The award-winning performer had a cameo as Mel Gibson’ boss in the blockbuster hit comedy What Women Want (2000), teamed up with Steven Weber in the Showtime movie Club Land (2001, received an Emmy nod as fanatical talent agent Willie Walters), starred as physicist Richard Feynman in the Los Angeles stage production of “Q.E.D.” (2001) and portrayed a defense lawyer in the Showtime original The Killing Yard (2001) for director Euzhan Palcy.

However, it was not until 2004, after a long acting career, that Alda got his first nomination for an Oscar. This was the Best Supporting Actor nod for his role as Ralph Owen Brewster, the bough-and-sold chairman of a Senate committee devoted to publicly ruining the nonconformist airline tycoo in Martin Scorcese’s critically-acclaimed Howard Hughes biopic The Aviator, starring Leonard DiCaprio. The same year, he made his return to series TV by joining the cast of the NBC White House drama “The West Wing” in the regular role of the Republican presidential candidate Arnold Vinick. The role brought Alda a 2006 Emmy for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series. On stage, Alda attracted the interest of public with the Tony Award-winning Broadway revival of David Mamet’s “Glengarry Glen Ross” (2005), where his starring performance of Shelly Levene netted him a Tony nomination for Best Featured Actor in a Play.

The 70-year-old actor is set to play the supporting role of Metz in the drama film Resurrecting the Champ, which is for 2007 release. The upcoming film will star Samuel L. Jackson as Champ, Josh Hartnett as Erik and Kathryn Morris as Joyce.


Awards:

  • Emmy: Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, The West Wing, 2006
  • National Board of Review: Best Supporting Actor, Crimes and Misdemeanors, 1989
  • New York Film Critics Circle: Best Supporting Actor, Crimes and Misdemeanors, 1989
  • Directors Guild of America: Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Comedy Series, M*A*S*H, 1983
  • Golden Globe: Best Performance by an Actor in a TV-Series - Comedy/Musical, M*A*S*H, 1983
  • Directors Guild of America: Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Comedy Series, M*A*S*H, 1982
  • Emmy: Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, M*A*S*H, 1982
  • Bodil: Best Non-European Film, The Four Seasons, 1982
  • American Movie: Favorite Star – Male, 1982
  • Golden Globe: Best Performance by an Actor in a TV-Series - Comedy/Musical, M*A*S*H, 1982
  • Golden Globe: Best Performance by an Actor in a TV-Series - Musical/Comedy, M*A*S*H , 1981
  • People’s Choice: Favorite All Around Male Entertainer, 1980
  • American Movie: Best Actor, The Seduction of Joe Tynan, 1980
  • Humanitas Prize: 30 Minute Category, M*A*S*H, 1980
  • Golden Globe: Best TV Actor - Musical/Comedy, M*A*S*H, 1980
  • Golden Apple: Male Star of the Year, 1979
  • Emmy: Outstanding Writing in a Comedy or Comedy-Variety or Music Series, M*A*S*H, 1979
  • Directors Guild of America: Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Comedy Series, "M*A*S*H, 1977
  • Emmy: Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series, M*A*S*H, 1977
  • Golden Globe: Best TV Actor - Musical/Comedy, M*A*S*H, 1976
  • Golden Globe: Best TV Actor - Musical/Comedy, M*A*S*H, 1975
  • People’s Choice: Favorite Male Television Performer, 1975, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982
  • Emmy: Actor of the Year, M *A*S*H, 1974
  • Emmy: Best Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, M *A*S*H, 1974
  • Golden Apple: Male Star of the Year, 1974
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