Alan Alda

Alan Alda


1/28/1936, New York City, New York, USA

Birth Name

Alphonso Joseph D'Abruzzo



Also Known As

Alphonso Alda, Alan D'Abruzzo, Alphonso D'Abruzzo
out of 10
User Rating
174 votes


Alan Alda, born on January 28, 1936, began his acting career at the age of 16 in Barnesville, Pennsylvania. While in college at Fordham University, Alda was able to perform on stage in Rome with his father, the late Robert Alda, on television. However, his acting career began…more


Trivia and Quotes

  • Trivia

    • Alan's favorite pasta dish comes from Naples and oddly enough, you don't even boil the pasta when preparing.

    • One time Alda gave up a $50,000 job because he wouldn't do a cigarette commercial.

    • Alan took part in an in-studio discussion with Ben Miller, John Barrowman and Eddie Izzard to mark Radio 4's "Big Bang Day" (2008).

    • At the 33rd Annual Summer Writers Conference on Long Island, Alan will be reading from a Roger Rosenblatt one-act, in July, 2008.

    • Alan performs in a one-man show, Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself.

    • Alan has received Honorary Degrees from the following institutions:

      St. Peter's College (1974)
      The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University (1979)
      Emerson College (2002).
      Southampton College (along with is wife, Arlene) (2003).

    • Alan was the only actor who appeared in all 251 episodes of M*A*S*H.

    • Alan considered running for the United States Senate in 1995 for the state of New Jersey.

    • Alan was raised in a Catholic family.

    • Alan started out his career as a member of the Compass Players comedy revue during the 1950s.

    • During Alan's junior year of college, he studied at the Sorbonne.

    • Alan spoke at the 108th commencement for Caltech in June of 2002, and he also gave the Commencement Address at Southampton College in 2003.

    • Alan had emergency surgery to clear an intestinal obstruction on October 19, 2003 in La Serena, Chile.

    • Alan attended Archbishop Stepinac High School in White Plains, New York.

    • Alan is Italian-American.

    • Alan is 6 feet 2 inches tall.

    • Alan and Arlene Alda dedicated a Central Park bench (somewhere near an entrance on the lower West Side); the inscription on the bench's plaque bears their names.

    • Alan won his 6th Emmy Award for his work on The West Wing.

    • Alan knew from the age of eight that he wanted to be a writer.

    • Alda is an active Democrat.

    • The exact time of his birth was 5:07 AM on January 28, 1936.

    • Alan and Loretta Swit were the only two M*A*S*H stars to appear in both the pilot and the finale.

    • Alan's mother, Joan Brown, is a former Miss New York pageant winner.

    • Richard Hooker, the author of the book, M*A*S*H, did not like Alan's portrayal of Hawkeye Pierce on the series.

    • Alan's wife, Arlene, is a well-known photographer, author, and clarinetist.

    • Alan has a half-brother, Anthony Alda.

    • Alan's mother was a schizophrenic and once tried to stab his father in the face. Because his father owned a burlesque theatre, she was afraid of extra-marital affairs. The two went on to get divorced several months later.

    • He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

    • While he was playing Republican Senator Arnold Vinick on The West Wing, he also played Republican Senator Owen Brewster in the movie The Aviator. When asked if it was a stretch to play a Republican because he is not one, he replied, "I was never asked that when I played a murderer."

    • Alda only took one acting class while attending Fordham University: "Theater Games."

    • Alda's theatrical debut began when he was 16, he starred in the play Charley's Aunt in Barnesville, Pennsylvania.

    • Alda was said to have earned $200,000 each week for M*A*S*H for the last two years of the show.

    • While in the military, Alda was secretly dating Arlene, who would later on become his wife. In fact, he went AWOL every weekend to go on a date with her.

    • Alda received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his role in The Aviator. However, Alda lost the Oscar to Morgan Freeman.

    • Alda's father, Robert Alda, had wanted Alan to become a doctor. However, Alda decided to become an actor, and eventually played the role of a surgeon on M*A*S*H.

    • Alan's Broadway Appearannces:

      Only in America as Telephone Man (1959).
      Purlie Victorious as Charley Cotchipee (1961-1962).
      Fair Game for Lovers as Benny (1964).
      Cafe Crown as Dr. Irving Gilbert (1964).
      The Owl and the Pussycat as F. Sherman (1964-1965).
      The Apple Tree as Adam, Captain Sanjar and Flip, Prince, Charming (1966-1967).
      Jake's Women as Jake (1992).
      Art as Marc (1998-1999).
      QED as Richard Feynman (2001-2002).
      The Play What I Wrote as a Mystery Guest Star (2003).
      Glengarry Glen Ross s Shelly Levene (2005).

    • Alda didn't become an official cast member of M*A*S*H until six hours before they began to film the very first episode, "The Pilot."

    • Alda was the host for the Museum of Television and Radio on Influences in 2000. The program was aired on Bravo cable.

    • During his early acting days, Alan got by working many odd jobs. He worked as a doorman, a cab driver — even a clown.

    • Earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Fordham University (New York City, USA) in 1956.

    • When he was a young boy, he suffered from polio. His treatments to battle the effects were intense massages and applications of near scalding hot towels.

    • Alan's stage name was given to him by his father. Alda was a combination of letters from his father's birthname; (Al)phonso (D'A)bruzzo.

    • He commuted from LA to his home in New Jersey every weekend for 11 years while starring in M*A*S*H (1972). His wife and daughters lived in NJ, and he did not want to uproot the family to LA, especially because he did not know how long the show would last.

    • In September 2005, Alda released his autobiography Never Get Your Dog Stuffed... and Other Things I've Learned.

    • When he and his wife, Arlene, first met, she was playing "Quintet for Clarinet and Strings" by Mozart on the clarinet. He ended up writing this piece into the final episode of M*A*S*H.

    • When he won the Emmy for the M*A*S*H episode "Inga," he did a cartwheel on his way up to accept the award.

    • AWARDS Directors Guild of America Awards 1983 - Outstanding Directorial Achievement in a Comedy Series for the "M*A*S*H" episode "Where There's a Will, There's a War".
      1982 - Outstanding Directorial Achievement in a Comedy Series for the "M*A*S*H" episode "The Life You Save".
      1977 - Outstanding Directorial Achievement in a Comedy Series for the "M*A*S*H" episode "Dear Sigmund". Drama Desk Award Outstanding Ensemble Performance for Glengarry Glen Ross (2005) (Won) Emmy Awards 1982 - Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for "M*A*S*H" 1979 - Outstanding Writing in a Comedy or Comedy-Variety or Music Series for the "M*A*S*H" episode "Inga" 1977 - Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series for the "M*A*S*H" episode "Dear Sigmund". 1974 - Actor of the Year-Series for "M*A*S*H" 1974 - Best Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for "M*A*S*H" Golden Globe Awards 1983 - Best Performance by an Actor in a TV-Series - Comedy/Musical for "M*A*S*H" 1982 - Best Performance by an Actor in a TV-Series - Comedy/Musical for "M*A*S*H" 1981 - Best Performance by an Actor in a TV-Series - Comedy/Musical for "M*A*S*H" 1980 - Best TV Actor - Musical/Comedy for "M*A*S*H" 1976 - Best TV Actor - Musical/Comedy for "M*A*S*H" 1975 - Best TV Actor - Musical/Comedy for "M*A*S*H" Humanitas Prize 1980 - Thirty Minute Category for "M*A*S*H" National Board of Review Awards 1989 - Best Supporting Actor for "Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989)" New York Film Critics Circle Awards 1989 - Best Supporting Actor for "Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989)" People's Choice Awards 1982 - Favorite Male Television Performer 1981 - Favorite Male Television Performer 1980 - Favorite Male Television Performer 1979 - Favorite Male Television Performer 1975 - Favorite Male Television Performer Writers Guild of America Awards 2000 - Valentine Davies Award Theatre World Award 1963-1964 Season - "Fair Game for Lover" (Won) Tony Awards Best Actor in a Musical for The Apple Tree (1967) (Nomination) Best Actor in a Play for Jake's Women (1992) (Nomination) Best Featured Actor in a Play for Glengarry Glen Ross (2005) (Nomination).

  • Quotes

    • Alan: (about a picture of him his mother kept) On the edge it says, 'My beloved son, Allie.' And I mean, that was a very important moment for me, because I saw through all of the psychosis, all the illness, the mental disorganization. And I saw through to this woman who loved her boy.

    • Alan: (on his mother's mental health) She thought people were trying to kill her. She thought I was trying to kill her. She thought I was trying to kill her very often.

    • Alan: (about early childhood memories) My earliest memories are standing in the wings watching my father singing while the chorus girls danced half-naked.

    • Alan: (about his recent nominations) It's better than that. It's...I really mean's encouragement. It means I'm making progress. That's what it meant to me.

    • Alan:(about their daughter)...,she was smiling at us. It wasn't gas; it was love beyond the limits of anatomy. We called her Eve. For us, she was the first woman ever born.

    • Alan: (On Tolerance) A peach is not its fuzz, a toad is not its warts, a person is not hsi or her crankiness. If we can make distinctions, we can be tolerant, and we can get to the heart of our problems instead of wrestling endlessly with their gross exteriors.

    • Alan: I sat next to a young woman on a plane once who bombarded me for five hours with how she had decided to be born again and so should I. I told her I was glad for her, but I hadn't used up being born the first time.

    • Alan: I want you to have chutzpah. Nothing important was ever accomplished without chutzpah. Columbus had chutzpah. The signers of the Declaration of Independence had chutzpah.

    • Alan: (To a graduating class American Academy of Arts) Show up on time. Know your lines. Respect your director, your fellow actors and yourself.

    • Alan: You can't get there by bus, only by hard work and risk and by not quite knowing what you're doing. What you'll discover will be wonderful. What you'll discover will be yourself.

    • Alan: (From his memoir) My mother didn't try to stab my father until I was six.

    • Alan: The good thing about being a hypocrite is that you get to keep your values.

    • Alan: (on the success of "M*A*S*H") I think it was because we did stories about people that really lived. Those people in the MASH units really went through hell, the patients and the doctors and the nurses. We tried to tell their stories, certainly with comic invention. It wasn't a documentary, but we based many of our episodes on what the people really went through.

    • Alan: Be brave enough to live life creatively. The creative place where no one else has ever been.

    • Alan: It's too bad I'm not as wonderful a person as people say I am, because the world could use a few people like that.

    • Alan: Begin challenging your own assumptions. Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in awhile, or the light won't come in.

    • Alan: Republicans are as capable of coming up with great ideas and moving this country along as anyone - they just don't do it.

    • Alan: Begin challenging your own assumptions. Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in awhile, or the light won't come in.

    • Alan: Laugh at yourself, but don't ever aim your doubt at yourself. Be bold. When you embark for strange places, don't leave any of yourself safely on shore. Have the nerve to go into unexplored territory.

    • Alan: It isn't necessary to be rich and famous to be happy. It's only necessary to be rich.

    • Alan: Originality is unexplored territory. You get there by carrying a canoe - you can't take a taxi.

    • Alan: The creative is the place where no one else have ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you'll discover will be wonderful. What you'll discover is yourself.

  • Alan Alda's Favorite Books

    Don't hate! I've read a bit about him from his wiki to books that influenced him: Seems like he's done so o o o o o o o o o ooo o o o o o o o o o o o o o oo o o o o o o o o o o o o o ooo o o o o o o o o o o o o o oo o o o o o o o o o o o o o ooo o o o o o o o o o o o o o oo o o o o much :)))moreless
  • Well, I have the pleasure of being the fifth editor for this comedic genius.

    I'll be honest, the majority of what I know about Alan comes from his work on MASH and his book, "Never Have Your Dog Stuffed". Alan is quick witted and has a charisma that just overflows with oneriness.

    But with his background with his actor father and mentally ill mother...Alan gained the ability to read ppl and a situation quite quickly abd clearly.

    He also has a keen interest in how the world works and continues doing shows on science or supporting work on the sciences.

    I may not share all of his liberal political views but I can respect him for keeping an open mind.moreless