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Alan Alda (1936)

Alphonso Joseph D'Abruzzo

Type :  

  Summary  

Alphonso Joseph D'Abruzzo , better known as Alan Alda, is an American actor, director, screenwriter, and author. A six-time Emmy Award and Golden Globe Award winner, he is best known for his role as Hawkeye Pierce in the TV series M*A*S*H. He is currently a Visiting Professor at the State University of New York at Stony Brook School of Journalism and a member of the advisory board of The Center for Communicating Science.

In 1996, Alda was ranked #41 on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Stars of All Time.

  Biography  

 career
 Early acting
Alda began his career in the 1950s, as a member of the Compass Players comedy revue. In 1966, he starred in the musical The Apple Tree on Broadway; he was nominated for the Tony Award as Best Actor in a Musical for that role.

Alda made his Hollywood acting debut as a supporting player in Gone are the Days! – a film version of the highly successful Broadway play Purlie Victorious, which co-starred veteran actors Ruby Dee and her husband, Ossie Davis. Other film roles would follow, such as his portrayal of author, humorist, and actor George Plimpton in the film Paper Lion , as well as The Extraordinary Seaman , and the occult-murder-suspense thriller The Mephisto Waltz, with actress Jacqueline Bisset. During this time, Alda frequently appeared as a panelist on the 1968 revival of What's My Line?. He also appeared as a panelist on I've Got a Secret during its 1972 syndication revival.

 M*A*S*H Series (1972–83)

In early 1972, Alda auditioned for and was selected to play the role of "Hawkeye Pierce" in the TV adaptation of the 1970 film MASH. He was nominated for 21 Emmy Awards, and won five. He took part in writing 19 episodes, including the finale, and directed 32. When he won his first Emmy Award for writing, he was so happy that he performed a cartwheel before running up to the stage to accept the award. He was also the first person to win Emmy Awards for acting, writing, and directing for the same series. Richard Hooker, who wrote the novel on which M*A*S*H was based, did not like Alda's portrayal of Hawkeye Pierce (Hooker, a Republican, had based Hawkeye on himself, whereas Alda and the show's writers took the character in a more left-wing direction). Alda also directed the show's 1983 2½-hour series finale "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen", which remains the single most-watched episode of any television series. Alda is the only series regular to appear in all 251 episodes.

Alda commuted from Los Angeles to his home in New Jersey every weekend for 11 years while starring in M*A*S*H. His wife and daughters lived in New Jersey, and he did not want to uproot his family to L.A., especially because he did not know how long the show would last.

Alan Alda, father Robert Alda, and half-brother Antony Alda appeared together in an episode of M*A*S*H, "Lend a Hand", during Season 8. Robert had previously appeared in "The Consultant" in Season 3.

As more and more of the original series writers left the series, Alda gained more control, and by the final seasons he had become a producer and creative consultant. Under his watch, M*A*S*H more openly addressed political issues. As a result, the 11 years of M*A*S*H are generally split into two eras: the Larry Gelbart/Gene Reynolds "comedy" years (1972–1977), and the Alan Alda "dramatic" years (1977–1983).

In his 1981 autobiography, Jackie Cooper wrote that Alda concealed a lot of hostility beneath the surface, and that the two of them barely spoke to each other by the time Cooper’s directing of M*A*S*H ended.

During his M*A*S*H years, Alda made several game-show appearances, most notably in The $10,000 Pyramid and as a frequent panelist on To Tell the Truth.

 Post-M*A*S*H
Alda's prominence in the enormously successful M*A*S*H gave him a platform to speak out on political topics, and he has been a strong and vocal supporter of women's rights and the feminist movement. He co-chaired, with former First Lady Betty Ford, the ERA Countdown campaign. In 1976, The Boston Globe dubbed him "the quintessential Honorary Woman: a feminist icon" for his activism on behalf of the Equal Rights Amendment. As a liberal and often progressive activist, he has been a target for some political and social conservatives.

Alda played Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman in the play QED, which had only one other character. Although Peter Parnell wrote the play, Alda both produced and inspired it. Alda has also appeared frequently in the films of Woody Allen, and was a guest star five times on ER, playing Dr. Kerry Weaver's mentor, Gabriel Lawrence. During the later episodes, it was revealed that Dr. Lawrence was suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer's disease. Alda also had a co-starring role as Dr. Robert Gallo in the 1993 TV movie And the Band Played On.

During M*A*S*H's run and continuing through the 1980s, Alda embarked on a successful career as a writer and director, with the ensemble dramedy The Four Seasons being perhaps his most notable hit. Betsy's Wedding was his last directing credit to date. After M*A*S*H, Alda took on a series of roles that either parodied or directly contradicted his "nice guy" image. His role as a pompous celebrity television producer in Crimes and Misdemeanors was widely seen as a self-parody, although Alda has denied this.

 Recent work

In 1995, he starred as the President in Michael Moore's political satire/comedy film Canadian Bacon. Around this time, rumors circulated that Alda was considering running for the United States Senate in New Jersey, but he denied this. In 1996, Alda played Henry Ford in Camping With Henry and Tom, based on the book by Mark St. Germain.

Beginning in 2004, Alda was a regular cast member on the NBC program The West Wing, portraying Republican U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Arnold Vinick, until the show's conclusion in May 2006. He made his premiere in the sixth season's eighth episode, "In The Room," and was added to the opening credits with the thirteenth episode, "King Corn." In August 2006, Alda won an Emmy for his portrayal of Arnold Vinick in the final season of The West Wing.

In 2004, Alda portrayed conservative Maine Senator Owen Brewster in Martin Scorsese's Academy-Award winning film The Aviator, in which he co-starred with Leonardo DiCaprio.

Throughout his career, Alda has received 31 Emmy Award nominations and two Tony Award nominations, and has won seven People's Choice Awards, six Golden Globe Awards, and three Directors Guild of America awards. However, it was not until 2004, after a long distinguished acting career, that Alda received his first Academy Award nomination, for his role in The Aviator.

Alda also wrote several of the stories and poems that appeared in Marlo Thomas's Free to Be... You and Me television show.

Alda starred in the original Broadway production of the play Art, which opened on March 1, 1998, at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre. The play won the Tony Award for best original play.

Alda also had a part in the 2000 romantic comedy What Women Want, as the CEO of the advertising firm where the main characters worked.

In the spring of 2005, Alda starred as Shelly Levene in the Tony Award-winning Broadway revival of David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross, for which he received a Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actor in a Play. Throughout 2009 and 2010, he appeared in three episodes of 30 Rock as Milton Greene, the biological father of Jack Donaghy .

In 2011, Alda was scheduled to guest star on Law & Order: LA, portraying former police and naval officer John Winters, the father of the former main character Rex Winters. It is unknown if he filmed his role before the series was redesigned and Rex Winters written off.

While starring in the movie Tower Heist, Alda was so devastated, when on December 7, 2011, he lost his idol and decades-long friend Harry Morgan to pneumonia, who replaced McLean Stevenson as Colonel Sherman T. Potter on both M*A*S*H and its sequel, AfterMASH, which Alda was unavailable to continue his role, due to him pursuing other projects. Harry played the character for nearly a decade. Prior to Morgan's death, Alan said of his mentor's final meeting with him, at a dinner celebration, along with the surviving cast, especially Jamie Farr, his best friend in the series, who played Corporal Maxwell Q. Klinger was: "We had just a wonderful time reminiscing. That was the last time I saw Harry."

stage
  • Only in America
  • Purlie Victorious
  • A Whisper in God's Ear
  • Fair Game for Lovers
  • Cafe Crown
  • The Owl and The Pussycat
  • The Apple Tree
  • Jake's Women
  • Art
  • QED
  • The Play What I Wrote
  • Glengarry Glen Ross

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Alan Alda", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.